Slow down, live better

motoi-yamamoto

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. Ferris Bueller

Slow food, slow business, slow cities, slow travel, and slow sex, it seems like everyone is trying to go slow. ‘Go slow to go fast’ is the new mantra – whatever that actually means. (Don’t think about it too much, it will make your head hurt, like a buddhist koan.)

My boyfriend thinks the slow movement is hilarious. He thinks the proponents of ‘slow’ all sound like we are lauding our mental deficits as something to aspire to.

All jokes aside, the slow movement does sound somewhat of an anathema to the usual ideal of striving harder, faster, better. But I don’t think it has to be.

There is more to life than increasing its speed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

According to Wikipedia, The Slow Movement advocates ways to slow down the pace of life. It all started with the Slow Food movement, initiated by Carlo Petrini’s protest against the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna, in 1986, and has spread to concepts as broad as medicine, schooling, science, and travel.

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In 1999, The World Institute of Slowness – created by Geir Berthelsen – presented a vision for an entire ‘Slow Planet’. Carl Honoré’s book, In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed, coined the phrase ‘Slow Movement’ and investigated how the Slow philosophy might be applied in all fields of human endeavour.

It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting. Carl Honore

Carl Honore cites the trends towards speed meditation, speed yoga, speed dating, and speed sex, as examples of things that there are good reason for taking time over. If you can’t spare time for relaxation, relationships, and enjoyment, maybe the problem is not that it takes too long, but that your work-life balance is out of whack.

But it’s also about taking ourselves less seriously, The International Institute of Not Doing Much (IINDM) is a humorous approach to the slow themes of addressing the modern ills of time poverty, incivility, compassion fatigue, and workaholism.

Carl Honore sums ‘slow’ up beautifully in his TED talk:

 

The best things in life aren’t things. Art Buchwald 

The Slow Movement is similar to the concept of voluntary simplicity. The idea that by scaling back our pursuit of material goals, particularly rampant consumerism, we can achieve self-fulfilment.

These are not just lofty goals, Abraham Maslow believed that once we have fulfilled our physical needs, we begin to evolve towards self-realisation and true fulfilment as human beings. But how can we evolve beyond the material if we always think we need to chase more stuff?

If we can accept a simpler lifestyle, we can begin to focus our attention and energy on developing our selves, our gifts and skills to contribute to the world.

We can become cultures of people living to our fullest potential and not draining our life force away chasing the ever-elusive dollar, without real meaning or purpose in our lives.

Not to mention, protecting our natural environment through responsible use of resources. Slow living is sustainable living.

I have been thinking a lot about slowness in the last few weeks, ever since I went to the launch of the Slow School of Business.

The Slow School of Business (Slow School) is inspired by the Slow Food movement. Founder Carolyn Tate believes business can be done better using the slow model, driven by purpose and collaboration, not profit.

Workshops and dinners at the school focus more on emotional, spiritual and physical wellbeing, creating an environment of deep connections and collaboration, where like-minded professionals are encouraged to share problems and solutions.

These are the soft skills vital for the hard task of building a sustainable business with purpose and vision. Carolyn Tate

So what is the meaning of slow?

Slow: unhurried, leisurely, measured, moderate, deliberate, steady, sedate, slow-moving, slow-going, easy, relaxed, unrushed, gentle, undemanding, comfortable. Merriam Webster Dictionary

Slowness, but not stopped-ness. Moving with purpose, at times stopping, at times moving faster, if called for, but not racing through just to get to the other side. Like the proverbial chicken crossing the road.

Recently, I feel that I’m being forced to slow down. All aspects of my life – business, work, family, love – seem to be encountering obstacles that are a counter-force to my usual bull-at-a-gate approach to life.

And why would we want to slow down?

Slow is about doing the things we do for the sake of savouring the experience, not just as a expedient means to an end. It’s easy to get so super-efficient that we forget we are supposed to be living life, not doing it.

There’s more to experience than ticking the boxes on our to-do list every day. Behaving with passion, purpose, and presence, is both invigorating to us, and to the activities and relationships we engage in.

When you feel tired all the time and like you’re just going through the motions, getting through the many things on your To-Do list but not engaging with them deeply or enjoying them very much. You don’t remember things as vividly when you rush through them. You feel like you’re racing through your life instead of actually living it. Carl Honore

Salt-Art-by-Motoi-Yamamoto-12

In this month’s Slow Magazine, alongside my friend, Carolyn Tate’s fabulous interview about the Slow school of business, I discovered this amazing Japanese artist, Motoi Yamamoto, whose work features throughout this blog post.

Motoi Yamamoto has used salt as his primary medium since the death of his sister to brain cancer 12 years ago. Salt is traditionally used in Japanese culture, specifically the Shinto religion, to purify. In Shinto, piles of salt outside houses are traditionally used to placate and clear away spirits, and protect the house from the energy associated with death and grieving. Yamamoto further believes that ‘salt has a force to heal grief.’

Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go. Oriah Mountain Dreamer

His work is reminiscent of the sand mandalas of the Tibetan monks, after spending hundreds of hours creating his pieces, they become interactive, with the public walking, touching, and playing with them. As such they are a symbol of impermanence.

 

Death has a way of reminding us of the finite nature of life. I realise I tend to hold life at arm’s length, waiting for the time I am ready to let it in. When I’m fitter, slimmer, more together, when my house is tidier, when I’ve done my tax, and finished my Chakradance space.

When I have life sorted and all my ducks in row – then I can slow down and enjoy the moment. But that time never comes.

Slow to me, also means letting life be messy and imperfect, and yet savouring it just as it is.

I have noticed in myself, a dogged attachment to my never-ending to-do list, ‘I just must get this and that done.’ And not really paying attention to present moment, to what’s really important.

When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. Ann Voskamp

Yesterday, I shelved my to-do list and had an impromptu day with a couple of lovely girlfriends. These times enrich my soul. Deep conversations about friendships, relationships, business, death, and ageing. Exploring the concept of becoming crones or wise elder women.

It was the perfect example of what happens when I slow down.

Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it. Daniel Kahneman

It’s easy to avoid the stickiness of life when you skate over the surface. Slowness involves the intention to be fully present at each moment with attentiveness to our inner world and our intimate connection with others. Deep conversations can be uncomfortable, difficult, challenging. This is not small talk and automatic responses. We are not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

A helpful analogy for this could be water skiing versus scuba-diving as a way to experience water. Water skiing is a super-fun and fast way to glide over water, yet by scuba diving we experience all that is beautiful beneath the surface.

It’s not that fast and exciting is wrong, it’s just it shouldn’t encompass our whole lives. We should be able to choose the fast and fun activities and the slow and meaningful ones.

Our minds and bodies need down-time to recuperate, to be creative, to heal themselves. Our lives should have a varied pace. The natural ebb and flow. Connectness and conscious decision-making should be valued above expediency.

People who are cognitively busy are also more likely to make selfish choices, use sexist language, and make superficial judgments in social situations. Daniel Kahneman

salt art impermemance

Based on all this contemplation of the slow, and after some inspiring conversations at the Slow School Of Business, I decided to rejig my business plan, based on the seven chakras.

The chakras have proven to be a reliable system for me, addressing all aspects of living from a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual perspective.

I have already written about the fabulous book, Creating on Purpose: The Spiritual Technology of Manifesting Through the Chakras by Anodea Judith and Lion Goodman, which uses the chakras as a system for manifesting. It’s a great method of using the chakras as a framework, both energetically and practically, for creating things.

In this framework you work from the top chakra down, starting with the creative spark and finishing with the substantial results at the base chakra. It goes something like this. (And it’s a work in progress, I might add, this is just the beginning. But y’know, I’m taking it slow.)

Crown chakra- Inspiration – Divine vision – Creative spark

Why do I feel inspired to teach Chakradance?

The inspiration for teaching Chakradance comes from my broader sense of the meaning of life. To know ourselves, to know our gifts, and share gifts and ourselves for benefit of humanity – whether that is family friends, community, or the broader world.

Chakradance has allowed me to explore this inner journey and I want to teach others this technique of journeying within.

Third eye chakra– Vision – Insight – Imagination – Intuition – Focus on the big picture

What vision, insight or intuition do I bring to this endeavour?

My life experiences, my journey into Chakradance, self-exploration, and healing.

Throat chakra– Communication – Creativity – Expression

How can I authentically express my vision?

Writing, talking, collaborating with others gives opportunities to share my vision.

Heart chakra– Connection with others – Service to others – Courage – Co-creation

How can I co-create this vision with others?

Share my vision wholeheartedly with people I meet. Ask potential customers what they need, what are they searching for in their lives. Look to collaborate with other service providers to create easy, one-stop shops for customers.

Solar plexus chakra– Purpose – Life force – Confidence

How can I be confident in planning this vision?

Know my stuff, research other like-minded businesses, planning and preparation, prepare space. Slow down, allow things to unfold without excess force or impatience.

Sacral chakra – Pleasure – Community – Flow

How can I make this an enjoyable experience for others?

Venue, ambience, good sound system, great space, welcoming, sense of community and connection with others. Fun!

Base chakra – Structure – Foundations – Stability – Money and financial security

Good systems, website, booking system, class timetable, structured pricing, clear expectations of the class, and deliver what I promise, when I promise.

Focusing on the chakras, bringing my focus inward, allows me to honour all aspects of my being in my business vision. I begin with the intention of honouring my gifts, experience and authenticity, away from concepts of competition and generic marketing models.

I think there is a good chance if I create something I love, others will love it to. It’s a holistic vision for business as an extension of me and my life.

Slow living is all about balance, remembering that there are times for expedience and times for reflection, appreciation, and connection with the moment.

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why. Eddie Cantor

hakone

Affirmations for slowing down (adapted from personaldevelopmentwisdom.com):

I slow down and I practice being patient.

I trust life. I slow down. I relax. I let go.

I live life at a comfortable pace.

I schedule time to rest, reflect, and recover from the events of the day.

I live my life in a stride that supports me – both mentally and physically.

I am worth the effort it takes to establish and maintain a comfortable pace to my life.

Bless!

 

And a spot of Beck, just because it’s the best slow music ever.

 

Images:

Motoi Yamamoto

 

Further reading:

The Slow School of Business (classes now open for bookings)

Slow magazine

The World Institute of Slowness

International Institute of Not Doing Much

The Slow Movement

In Praise of Slowness

Chakradance

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6 comments on “Slow down, live better

  1. I can’t help but feel the word “slow” for this movement is a bit of a problem. Slowness isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the goal; it is, however, a generally-associated characteristic in the pursuit of a goal – and it seems that goal is focus, and paying attention, putting quality ahead of quantity, work ahead of convenience, and value ahead of expedience. The problem isn’t the “fast-paced world”, (and therefore “slowness” an apparently simple solution), but the shallowness and lack of value and focus that comes with that fast-pace.

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  2. Hmmm. I do see your point, however… I think slowing down is a very good place for most people to start. It’s impossible to focus, be attentive, and produce quality, when rushing. I also think shallowness and lack of value are, to some degree, the by-product of an emphasis on speedy results, and on the desire to pack as much into a day as possible – quantity over quality. But you’re right, slowing down is the starting point of a much greater journey 🙂

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  3. I love this piece Tina. You’ve perfectly described how I feel about the slow movement and haven’t been able to express properly. I was speaking with someone this morning and saying I couldn’t believe I’d been working on certain things for 10 years and still have huge revelations coming up, she laughed and pointed out how grandiose my belief was in thinking I could have figured things out any earlier. Depth, not distance is my take home today. Thanks!

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  4. Pingback: Reading List – Third Quarter 2016 – A Life Less Busy

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