We all know about the benefits of slowing down, right?
Personally, I’m always talking about slowing down. I thought this would be a good time to revisit the value of this practice and share what I learned about slowing down at a meditation retreat I attended last year.
Going into retreat I already knew
Slowing down brings richness to whatever I’m doing. What I’m eating tastes better (and I get more satisfaction from it). Conversations seem more connected (and efficient) when I listen and feel like I’m heard. Events are more memorable and enjoyable.
Everything, if I do it s l o w l y seems to go better and be better.
But slow is so NOT me!
On retreat the first thing I realized is how often I don't slow down. Like many of us, my habit is to squeeze more to-dos into my day. I have to deliberately choose to slow down.
Hurrying and ‘doing’ is reinforced in our world where accomplishment is valued. Rushing has become a badge of importance. It seems ‘normal’ to hurry and skim. Completing a to-do list makes us feel productive. Sometimes we use busyness to avoid what really needs to be done.
As I ‘sat’ in meditation for several hours each day, it became obvious to me that this pace of being was not natural or very familiar to me.
There is enough…time
Sitting for two and a half hours at a time meant I had all the time I needed to appreciate the sounds and sensations in my experience. To notice temperature inside and outside myself. To be aware of the minute alterations in posture that translated into comfort or discomfort. I had time to explore whatever was there.
I couldn't help but let go of my expectations of accomplishment and efficiency. As I became aware of the state of my mind and body, I learned that there was enough time to feel what I was feeling. Time for my mind to catch up with my body. I began to see the pace of my mind slow to match the pace of my body in stillness.
And I noticed a sense of relief – I wasn’t going to miss anything at this speed! Consequently, my mind was able to relax and stop operating on a million levels.
It became wonderful not to rush. Not to hurry. Not to anticipate what was coming next. Just to be.
Choice and slowing down
Slowing down the pace of everything on retreat reminded me that when I want to change something, change only happens if I make different choices.
I found it easier to make these different choices when the options were surrounded by time. Instead of rushing into doing ‘it’ the way I’d always done it, I was slowing down and taking a long look at my choices. Sometimes I saw more options than I assumed were available. Every time I approached things slowly it was easier to make the new choice – it was easier to change.
In areas where I have resisted change and struggled to make different choices, slowing down reminds me that I really do want to change.
The Gift of Slowing Down
I invite you to give yourself the gift of slowing down and see what you want to work on now. Where you want to change/grow? Slow down to figure out why you want to do this work. And slow down so you can enjoy the journey.