International Day of Slowness

According to “The Slow Society” yesterday (21st June – the Summer Solstice) was the “International Day of Slowness“. I only just found out about it (what do you expect really? This is about “slow” after all…). It is one of several “International Days of Slowness” I have come across. The great thing about the Slow Movement is that is not organised control or dictated by one central body and is a cultural movement by groups of individuals and organisations around the globe (the Slow Movement is essentially anarchic in it’s approach which is something I like about it), so there are several organisations that exist that promote the Slow Philosophy and each have their own calendars.

It is nice to have a day devoted to something, as the collective focus and energy of all the people involved can have a real effect, but if you missed it (like I did), then there is no need to worry or beat yourself, you can have you own “Personal Day of Slowness” whenever you want.

In fact, isn’t the aim to have a “Day of Slowness” every day anyway? But what I would recommend is to set aside a day every week (or month, or whenever you can manage it for now) to really slow down, almost grind to a halt in fact (isn’t this what Sunday’s used to be? Before our 24 hour, 7 days a week hare-brained culture really took over?)

Robert Wringham in his most recent Escapologists Diary (Escapology and Slow make good bed fellows) discusses a day he recently stayed in due to the rain (you can read it here), which, to me, encompasses an ideal “Slow Day” (although, obviously the content can change to suite your tastes and needs).

So, how to do go about having a slow day? And what do you do in it?

1. “Go Dark”

Switch off your phone, Internet, TV and radio (apart from Radio 3 or some other soothing sounds.). We are bombarded for almost 24 hours a day with news, information and demands. As little as 15 years ago, very few of us had the Internet or mobile phones and we got on perfectly fine. Remind yourself that technology is your servant not your master by switching it all off once in awhile.

2. Go for a Stroll

We think at walking speed, yet life forces us to think and act much, much faster. No wonder we are stressed, flustered and feel under constant pressure to “keep up”. Walking is not only excellent form of idle exercise, it is a way to reconnect with and slow down our thought process, contemplate and ponder. Who knows what ideas you will have or what amazing insights you will uncover.

And whilst you are out and about…

3. Look Around!

Look at the beauty that surrounds you, pay attention to nature, watch the clouds and make shapes in them, really notice the things you look at every day, but rarely see. We only have this moment, yet how often do we truly live in it? How often are lost in a memory or a daydream of the future. Be in the now, this is all there is.

4. Have a Nap

There is nothing more energising for the mind, body and spirit than a quick nap in the afternoon. You know, that lull after lunch where you are not sure what to do next and feel a bit sleepy as your body digests its food. Go one, have a kip…

5. Read a Good Book

How many books have you got on your bookshelf that you have always wanted to read, but somehow never got round to? Pick one, get comfy and lose yourself in it.

A friend once told me that you should always read. If you don’t read you only get to live one lifetime, if you read you live thousands.

6. Cook and Appreciate All the Food You Eat

How often do you heat up pre-prepared food and then wolf it down whilst sat in front of the TV? There is something liberating about cooking your own food from scratch and then taking the time to appreciate it. Own cooked food tastes better and is healthier (and often cheaper to make) than pre-prepared stuff. Take some time to plan your meal, cook it and then sit and eat it at the table, not in front of the TV and really savour it.

If that is a bit too much at this current stage in your slowing down process, then just bake your own bread, it is very simple, cheap and easy to do and incredibly satisfying.

7. Catch up with Old Friends, the Old-fashioned Way

With email, text, instant messenger and facebook it has never been easier to stay in touch with someone. But when was the last time you really connected with your friends? Had a good sit down and a chinwag? Modern technology gives us the illusion of being connected with someone without actually being connected.

So, invite your friends round for a cuppa, go to the pub, drink and be merry, or make a telephone call (from your landline…) if you can’t get to see them face-to-face.

8. Write a Letter

Feeling a bit adventurous? Can’t get hold of your friend right now? They live too far away to pop round? Then write them a letter!

Emails are a great way to send instant messages. They are fine for business or quick bits of organisation or fact finding, but can you put a pressed flower in an email? Can you seal it with a loving kiss? Letters imbue part of the writers soul onto the paper; the effort and ritual of finding some nice paper, a good quality pen and, with your best handwriting, commit your thoughts and feelings to paper gives a letter something an email can never have.

And you can get it delivered anywhere in the country, next day, for less than 50p, or anywhere in the world, in just a few days, for the cost of a pint! Isn’t that great value? Isn’t it worth it?

Of course, these are just suggestions, you may have your own ideas of what you would do on your slow day (and if you tried to do all these things you would be pretty busy!). Really you can do anything, as long the intention is to do it in a Slow way, to be mindful, unflustered and unhurried, to be frugal and use just enough resources (time, energy and money) to do each thing. And to enjoy it! Slow isn’t about being puritanical or pious! To me Slow is mindset that leads to a new lifestyle, do things with the right intention behind it and everything becomes “Slow”.

Matt