The one key thing to remember about Slowing Down is to not do it too fast! You need to slow down slowly…
If you try and do too much all at once (as we have a tendency and conditioning to do in our hare-brained society) you will just become overwhelmed and end up giving up on slowing down and go back to your old fast life (it is often why we fail to make any changes in our lives; we try and do too much all at once)
It is much better to do one thing at a time to slow down and build up gradually, but one way to introduce more than one change easily is to do a daily (or weekly, or monthly depending on your timescale) Slow Hour. If you can’t do a whole hour, start with a Slow Five Minutes and build up from there.
So, what do you do in this Slow Hour? Well you introduce the key elements of slowing down such as:
Take a few minutes to relax and de-stress yourself, do a few relaxation exercises, for an excellent exercise try my “deep relaxation primer” audio programme.
Focusing on, drawing your attention to and regulating your breathing is one of the best ways to relax, become more mindful and therefore slow down! There are dozens, if not hundreds of different breathing exercises that you can learn, I often recommend a simple full breath, counting to 7 on the in-breath and 11 on the out-breath. For more details click here listen to this SlowCast.
3. Be Mindful
Do everything you do in this hour with 100% focus and attention, pay attention and be mindful. If you find your mind wandering, just slowly draw your attention back to what you are doing. To help return your attention to the task in hand, focus on your breathing, take a few deep breaths, scan your body for tension, adjust your posture (if needed), relax and return to the task in hand.
Avoid multitasking and do one thing at a time. With everything that you do in this hour, don’t allow yourself to be distracted or interrupted. Being mindful will help you to be more single-task orientated and by single tasking you will be surprised hoe much more you actually get done.
5. Do something Slow that you want to do!
Turn off the TV (unless, of course, you want to watch a classic movie) and do something slow that you have wanted to do for ages. Maybe read a book, bake bread, paint, learn to play a musical instrument…
6. Be Gentle!
Remember the Taoist principle of “four ounces”; everything you touch you should not apply more than four ounces of pressure to it. Now, this is obviously a metaphor and doesn’t mean using exactly four ounces! It is about being gentle, both physically and psychologically. Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself being distracted or agitated or interrupted during your slow hour. Just relax, refocus on your breathing and carry on. You will always have the next Slow Hour.
You will find, very quickly (!) that if you do this regularly for an hour a day, soon an hour wont be enough and you will want to spend two hours a day being slow, then three and you will also find you will be more spontaneously slow even when you are not “meant” to, you will find yourself being more focused, less stressed and being able to do one thing at a time rather letting your attention scatter…
Give it a go over the weekend and see how you get on!
Want to learn more? Check out the “Welcome to the Slow Life” audio programme.
I will be back on Tuesday