My husband always reminds me to go slowly. You see, I have this habit of talking faster than I can think, and thinking faster than I can do, and well it tends to leave me quite jumbled up sometimes. All of my frustrations, glitches, and difficulties seem to arise the moment I start getting ahead of myself and leave the present moment.
As a result, I’ve started working on going slowly, not only in my speech but in all aspects of life. And I’ve surprisingly realized that simply by slowing down, I'm able to respond more often than react. I’m able to think and communicate from a place of greater Love and calm.
Going slowly allows us to become more conscious, mindful and aware of our state of being, and therefore our state of doing. It allows us to process and respond, rather than to react. When we go slowly, we’re able to see things more clearly and fully experience life. Our society, and entire lives for many of us, has been built on multitasking, hectic schedules and running from one thing to the next. When we take a moment to go slowly, however, we come to realize that we are in full control, rather than our thoughts, emotions, and schedules controlling us. By slowing down, our actions follow our awareness rather than the other way around.
So what are some ways we can go slowly in our everyday lives? Here are my favorite tips to help get you started!
- Pause Before Speaking. Even if you think you know what you want to say or have the answer to a question, pause before responding. Allow your mind a moment to process things so you can respond from a place of deep awareness, rather than react on autopilot without even realizing it. By pausing we allow ourselves the opportunity to make a conscious choice rather than remaining stuck in our habitual way of doing things. We open ourselves up to the possibility of change.
- Learn to Listen. Rather than waiting for someone to finish speaking so you can say what you’re itching to say, try to truly listen to what another is saying before jumping in. This can be a lot harder than it sounds! I never realized how often I interrupted others, or how much my mind was busy formulating my next response that I missed an opportunity to truly hear another’s words of wisdom. But with a little practice and conscious awareness, it's become easier and easier for me to be an active listener. The next time you’re having a conversation, check in with yourself to see if you’re really paying attention or simply thinking about the next thing you want to say. Redirect your attention to the speaker any time you catch your mind wandering back to you. It’s amazing how much we can learn when we take a moment to stop and truly listen!
- Be Where You Are. Whatever you are doing, be there fully. Try not to focus on the next place you have to be or task you have to complete. If you’re walking up stairs, for instance, try to remain present at the step you are on rather than thinking about what you have to do when you reach your destination. Notice how the ground feels under your feet with every step. If you’re washing the dishes, be with the warm, soapy water on your hands rather than getting lost in tomorrow's to-do list. No matter what you're doing, focus on being there and nowhere else. Immerse yourself fully in the experience, whatever it may be.
- Practice Eating Mindfully. There's no better way to slow down in the middle of a hectic day than taking some time to mindfully eat a meal or snack. Rather than eating as you typically would, or while doing another task (ahem, scrolling through your phone or watching TV), try focusing on each and every bite. Feel the sensations of chewing your food and your taste buds activating on your tongue. Experience your food getting smaller and smaller and traveling down through your esophagus as you swallow. What do you notice? I’ve found by practicing this throughout my day, I not only enjoy the experience of eating so much more, but I also realize that I’m satisfied with a lot less than I normally would scarf down on autopilot ;)
- Do One Thing at a Time. Instead of multitasking, try focusing on one task at a time. Allow yourself to be fully present in the task at hand until you’ve completed it before moving onto the next. Not only does this help reduce cognitive load, but it also allows you to improve your sustained focus, which is the key to making deeper connections and thinking creatively. Any time you catch yourself jumping to another task, simply pause and take a few deep breaths to help you refocus.
- Be with Nature. Take a few moments every day to stop and spend time with nature. Go for a walk without needing to be on your cell phone and breathe in the fresh air. Observe the trees and plants around you. Give your mind (and eyes!) a much-needed break from bright screens and experience nature’s beauty. Anytime I find myself stressed or overwhelmed, a quick walk down the block and a breath of fresh air always give me the reprieve I need.
- Breathe! Stopping to take a few deep breaths is one of the easiest and quickest ways to slow down during a busy day. Simply pause, close your eyes, and take 5 nice, long, full, deep breaths. Nice and slow. How do you feel? You might be surprised at just how effective it can be ;)
Love + Light,