Slow down…well, you either hear the call, or you don’t. But at a gut level you know it’s there.
Do you remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? The Hare belts forward rushing and racing around trying to get all things done and burns out – the Tortoise just calmly moves along and eventually completes all the tasks, no mistakes and still feels chilled. Which are you?
Which are YOU?
Daily Slow Down Tasks
You know what they all are, however, we all need reminders. Don’t try to do them all at once, (as if you would lol!) that would be silly.
Mindful slowing down is quite simple, but not easy. It’s important to get started and begin making progress.
It’s a little like a baby starting to walk. There seems to be no real progress until one day you stand up, and suddenly you’re up and walking.
Just practice developing the tasks you remember most until they become a habit and then move on to new things….simples. It takes everyone different lengths of time so remember it’s not a competition.
When I first work with new students I ask them to slow down the simple daily tasks they undertake, through habit and by applying Mindfulness thus being in the moment; they get results.
Slowing Down and Mindfulness
These exercises will help you to notice the speed at which you are moving. When you are tense, this is often faster and more spasmodic than necessary. This exercise helps you turn down your metabolic rate. For a few minutes, consciously and mindfully do everything the slightest fraction slower.
Choose a simple activity you do every day. It could be;
- getting dressed
- having a shower
- leaving the house and getting into the car
- having breakfast or a tea break
- watering your plants
- taking the dog for a walk
Allow an extra minute or two, so you don’t have to hurry. Do every movement just the slightest bit slower.
Carl Honoré in his TED Talk discusses the need to slow down and the resistance to it through conditioning and habit Click to watch an inspiring discussion.
Therefore, using Mindfulness as a tool to develop slowing down, consider these actions as you undertake them:
- Notice the pace at which you walk, turn, sit, and lift things. In other words, be natural without rushing in all everyday activities.
- Walking. Most of us walk quite a bit each day, but we rarely think about walking. We also don’t pay much attention to what’s going on around us. Our thoughts are primarily on wherever it is we’re walking to.
- While walking, notice what’s going on around you. Feel the pressure on your feet. Feel the temperature of the air on your skin. Smell the air; yes smell the air – describe it.
- Eating. We’re rarely aware that we’re even eating, and taste well forget that, for many it doesn’t even hit the sides….
Notice your Food!
Try a little experiment.
Take an orange and eat it one piece at a time. Bite into it slowly and take the time to savour each bite. Take a full 30 seconds for each segment. There’s a 50-50 chance you won’t even be able to finish the entire orange. It’s richer than you think.
Lots of fab Vitamins C……
Avoid eating in front of the television or while listening to music so that you can focus on your food and the people with you. When you’re talking, talk. When you’re eating, eat.
Take it Slowly when….
Waiting in line. Maybe you find waiting in line to be especially frustrating. Notice the feelings and thoughts that arise while you’re waiting. But avoid getting emotionally involved. Simply be a casual observer. Breathe in and let go, you have just been given a few minutes to chill – take it!
Observing your Body – Take note when your movements are hurried and jerky why? and again when they are smooth and easy. Do you breathe easily or hold your breath? You may need to review your breathing techniques. We rarely notice our bodies unless we’re in pain or ill. BIG mistake. Our bodies are one of the primary ways we experience the world.
Avoiding multitasking. Just do one task at a time. You’ll get more done, and it’s much easier to be mindful. Remember the Tortoise and the Hare? Once you have become more competent with the simple tasks and let go of the guilt about not multi-tasking you are ready to move onto the next stages.
‘Doing the Doing’
Become aware. This means, be aware of everything in your environment, as well as everything you’re doing and thinking. Keep your focus on the present moment, not looking back at the past or concerning yourself with the future.
Become deliberate. Focus on what you’re doing and perform the next logical step. Keep going until the task is complete. Be focused on the task rather than getting the job over and done with.
Notice your feelings. If you think about it, emotions are nothing more than feelings that we’ve learned to label. When your body feels a certain way, you call it “jealousy,” “happiness,” “fear,” “shame,” and so on. Our brains don’t have the ability actually to feel anything. That’s why patients are frequently awake for many neurosurgery procedures. It ’s our emotions and physical self that ‘feels.’
Regularly take a moment to notice what each part of your body is feeling. Think relaxed or tense? Then make a choice about what you will do – Rush or Relax!
Learn how to regain control. (Top Tip)
If you find yourself unable to be mindful, there’s a great trick to bring your thoughts back to the present.
- List ten things that you see. It’s preferable for you to list the items aloud. Describe each one in some detail.
- List all the things you hear. Close your eyes and listen.
- Describe the smell in the air.
- Describe what you’re feeling physically. It might be, “My neck is hurting. I can feel the pressure of my feet on the ground. My belt feels tight. The air is a little cold on my skin. My body feels tired.”
- Take a minute to notice your breathing. Count your breaths as you feel the air moving in and out of your body.
When you complete this exercise, your mind should be back in the present.
We are all aware of how rushing around leads to mistakes; Psychologically it does us no good what so ever; Our Physiology suffers too; our Stress levels increase….therefore maybe today is the day you start to believe Slow is the Way to Go!
Just Chill and Slow Down
Consider one of the daily tasks you do and decide to slow it down….just one, get into the habit of taking a little longer and begin to see the changes.
You may need to adjust you time management tools/schedule of daily tasks, but you can pop over and see the ‘The Time Doctor’ for that challenge….
Let me know what task you decide on and how you get on….
Until next time