What does this mean?
How can we do it?
What benefits might come from it?
As I attempt to integrate back into “normal life” after co-facilitating an emotional, yoga, healing-centered retreat this past weekend, I find myself trying hard to hang on to the slower pace that I experienced.
Is it possible to still ‘slow down’ even when things are fast-paced?
Can I still slow down even when I don’t have time? Can I slow down when I’ve got two little kids running around me?! Can I slow down even when I have deadlines?
This was the intention of my classes this past week. I did it partly for myself, and mostly for anyone who wants or needs to slow down. It is from my own point of view that we could all use a slowing down.
‘Linger’, by Melinda Yeoh:
Smile a while,
Rest a while,
Laugh a while,
Read a while,
Let your racing heart
Slowly walk a while.
What does it mean to slow down?
What does it mean to you, dear reader? For me, it means many different things.
Slowing down, by definition means “an act of slowing down” or “to be less active and relax more”. -Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries, respectively.
Mary Oliver wrote This passage as taken from a larger poem entitled ‘Entering the kingdom’:
“The dream of my life
Is to lie down by a slow river
And stare at the light in the trees –
To learn something by being
A little while
But the rich
Lens of attention.”
Though it might seem as if slowing down is mostly a physical action, I would like to challenge the notion that it has only to do with the body! As I believe, everything is interconnected. And, as yoga teaches us, all the different layers and parts of our self dance with each other.
You might be able to slow your body down, but can you slow the thoughts?
So how can we slow down other than slowing our physical form? What are other practices that can help us to slow down?
Here are some ideas I have come up with:
-behold (acknowledge without judgement nor expectation)
-honor all that is
-assume positive intent
-go into nature
-turn off your devices and other “noise”
-spend quality time with your friends and family and pets
-Make more time in your day to not rush
-choose to become more mindful
-sip your tea or coffee
What are some other things, dear reader, that help you to slow down?
And when you slow down, what happens?
What do you notice?
How do you feel?
Slowing down doesn’t always have to mean carving an hour or two hours out of your day to rest. Sometimes all you need is one minute, or even just one breath. Sometimes our lives circumstances don’t allow for even a minute, so what then? Then it becomes one breath.
One breath can drop us into awareness. And, awareness creates change.
When we slow down, that’s the moment when we can actually begin to hear what our body needs. We can actually begin to listen to our heart. When we slow down, we are actually able to notice what is present in this moment.
When we have the awareness of what this moment holds, we can begin to discern. We start to begin making sense of our experience. We can start to notice any emotion, or a physical sensation, or notice our thoughts about the situation.
As we continue to observe all that we notice within the slowing down, our intuition and our wisdom can then begin to see the choices and possibilities. We can move from a heart centered place of response rather than reacting. We can even slow down enough just to see that we have choice at all! We don’t have to plow through things and not feel, not discuss, not contemplate, and not process.
From this place of seeing choices, we can take action, even when the action is to take no action. One of my mentors has taught me that we can always “stay, go, or change”.
One of the beautiful aspects to this slowing down is that we can move into better relationship with ourself and with others.
Building these relationships builds trust within the relationships. Slowing down can therefore support self-love and self-care, as well as offering the same love and acceptance to others.
Slowing down can offer peace.
It can offer spaciousness and connection. It might even offer more enjoyment of life! Slowing down often brings about happiness and more compassion. Slowing down can bring us clarity, even allow us to be open enough to observe divine insights. Slowing down might enable us to forgive. Slowing down might offer us, or other, grace. Slowing down invites away of opening up. Slowing down and bites tenderness and love.
Slowing down and can allow us to see possibilities.
In slowing down we make connections and from these connections we might feel a sense of hope.
All of the yogic practices create the space for us to slow down enough to quiet our busy mind and to touch that place of peace within each of us.
When we are able to access that place within ourselves, we can experience ourselves as whole, full. This is why I chose to use the Purna Mantra. Listen HERE.
It’s also why I chose to use the hand gesture, mudra, of the heart. Hridaya Mudra is done by curling your index finger tips into the base of your thumbs. Then connect your thumb fingertips with your middle and ring fingers in each hand respectively. Leave your pinky fingers extended. Rest this gesture and your lap for a few moments and slow down; notice what you notice and feel what you feel.
Slowing down supports us in being able to feel and notice!
The next time you’re rushing to catch a train, to make a meeting, to pick up your kids, or whatever the situation may be, can you slow down in your mind enough to offer yourself grace? Can you slow down in your mind enough to remember that no matter if you don’t catch that train, miss making it to that meeting, or are late to pick up your kids, you are going to be okay?
I believe it is possible to slow down our thoughts enough in a moment of chaos and speed to remember what’s important to us.
This is why I wanted to make the case that slowing down is not always only with your body. But it is also with your heart, mine, and spirit.
“There is more to life than measuring its speed.
Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well.
Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life and during values.” -Unknown
I take a deep breath as I slow down now.
All my love,
Breathe and Believe.