Thursday, December 28, 2006

Learning to Slow Down


This was yesterday's Daily Om:
The Time of Your Life
Learning to Slow Down

Throughout our lives, we are taught to value speed and getting things done quickly. We learn that doing is more valuable than merely being, and that making the most of life is a matter of forging ahead at a hurried pace. Yet as we lurch forward in search of some elusive sense of fulfillment, we find ourselves feeling increasingly harried and disconnected. More importantly, we fail to notice the simple beauty of living. When we learn to slow down, we rediscover the significance of seemingly inconsequential aspects of life. Mealtimes become meditative celebrations of nourishment. A job well-done becomes a source of profound pleasure, no matter what the nature of our labors. In essence, we give ourselves the gift of time—time to indulge our curiosity, to enjoy the moment, to appreciate worldly wonders, to sit and think, to connect with others, and to explore our inner landscapes more fully.

A life savored slowly need not be passive, inefficient, or slothful. Conducting ourselves at a slower pace enables us to be selective in how we spend our time and to fully appreciate each passing moment. Slowness can even be a boon in situations that seem to demand haste. When we pace ourselves for even a few moments as we address urgent matters, we can center ourselves before moving ahead with our plans. Embracing simplicity allows us to gradually purge from our lives those commitments and activities that do not benefit us in some way. The extra time we consequently gain can seem like vast, empty stretches of wasted potential. But as we learn to slow down, we soon realize that eliminating unnecessary rapidity from our experiences allows us to fill that time in a constructive, fulfilling, and agreeable way. We can relish our morning rituals, linger over quality time with loved ones, immerse ourselves wholeheartedly in our work, and take advantage of opportunities to nurture ! ourselves every single day.

You may find it challenging to avoid giving in to the temptation to rush, particularly if you have acclimated to a world of split-second communication, cell phones, email and overflowing agendas. Yet the sense of continuous accomplishment you lose when you slow down will quickly be replaced by feelings of magnificent contentment. Your relaxed tempo will open your mind and heart to deeper levels of awareness that help you discover the true gloriousness of being alive.
This has been one of the crucial lessons for me over the past couple of years. I used to think of time not spent being productive as being lazy. So even when I tried to get off the treadmill of responsibilities, I gave myself a hard time for it and never really relaxed into being present in the moment. My inner Critic and inner Pusher still get uneasy if I take two hours out of my afternoon to watch a movie (like I did yesterday) instead of reading or blogging.

Still, it's a work in progress. I tend to move as though I am late, always, and when I step back and look at myself, I see someone who is too tied to the clock, too focused on getting things done rather than actually doing them.

I think we can be slower and more relaxed and still be doing, rather than having to unplug completely. We simply need to be mindful and present in the moment instead of living in the next moment and the next.

Periodically, I rededicate myself to being mindful in my daily life. It's that time again. With the craziness that is January in the gym soon to arrive, cultivating the ability to stay centered and mindful amid the chaos is necessary.


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