Upon recently returning back to the United States from a 10 day personal cleanse in Canada, I noticed the hurry-up, fast paced lifestyle of the Northeast. I wondered if this was just an East Coast thing, but then I flashed to many past West Coast experiences where I noticed a similar vibe (perhaps it’s just me). In some ways it is industrious, productive and motivating. In other ways it is phrenetic, skittish and disorienting. Across the board many of us could use a bit of slowing down — an integration phase of what we have done during our day, week or month.
Our bodies live in the present moment, but our mind and emotions transcend the boundaries of time and space. Perhaps that’s what this whole mindfulness thing is about these days: taking inventory of self and noticing what’s going on in the present moment — without judgment.
So why not throw a “good old” 10 ways to slow down list? If you’re curious about finding ways to pump the breaks or are in need of a reminder then the following list is for you.
10 Ways to Slow Down
1) Take a deep breath. I’m talking big, deep belly breathing in and out through your nose. Connecting with our breath allows us to pause and connect with our autonomic nervous system. As our day cruises by we may not even notice our breathing. Take 3 minutes to connect with your breath and notice the effects. Check out the Tranquility in 9 Breaths Meditation my website: http://www.juliandevoe.com/meditation-bursts/
2) Take a walk. Walking is an evolutionary accomplishment and has tremendous health benefits. Walking while on a phone call, on a treadmill or taking a spin around your neighborhood can do your body and mind lots of good.
3) Go outside and get into nature. Fresh air! Ahhhh. Reconnecting with nature — because we ARE nature — is something that helps us to connect with our inner and outer nature, to allow the mind to clear and to meditate without even “knowing” it. Some therapists are recommending grounding, earthing or forest bathing as having tremendous benefits on our health. Now doesn’t that just sound cool?
4) Dance — like no one is watching. Put on one of your favorite tunes and shake what your mama gave ya. Great for the circulation, lympathetic system, mind and emotions. Let it loose and cut a rug. Extra credit it for doing it in public.
5) Meditate. Meditation is all the rage these days, and rightfully so. This practice can be intimidating at first, so take it slow — ha! Start with just a few moments. It doesn’t have to be sitting cross legged, yogi style, it can be anything that puts you into the zone. Remember, it’s not necessarily about clearing the mind or having no thought. At first it can be allowing all your thoughts and ruminations to dump out. For some inspiration, check out: http://www.juliandevoe.com/meditation-bursts/
6) Make slow movements. This is the physical practice of slowing down. Sometimes slowing down can be so obvious and physical that it gets lost in the shuffle. Making slow motions is incredibly mindful and refreshing. For some encouragement with slow-motion, check out some of these qigong exercises: http://www.juliandevoe.com/body-bursts
7) Put your technology down. Oh boy, this can be tough, but so rewarding. When waiting in line or at an appointment, when traveling as a passenger on a car or train and especially at the dinner table, put the phone aside. Allow for the moments of boredom to come in, sometimes they are most imaginative. Disconnect to really connect empathetically with yourself and your surroundings.
8) Read. Grab a good old book and turn some pages. This is a great thing to do especially before bed. It will help to create wrinkles (the good kind) in your brain, which will keep you sharp and open your imagination.
9) Journal/Doodle. Putting pen to paper is an age old (well, at least since the invention of pen and paper) technique that can be incredibly cathartic. Journaling can help us witness ourselves and our experiences. Doodling helps us to activate the right side of our brain in new and fun ways. Doodling can even help us concentrate.
10) Take a nap. Besides sleep this is one of the ultimate acts of slowing down. In the hectic, fast passed, keep up, caffeine filled world, rest can be hard to come by. It is crucial for feeling energized, attentive and joyful. Studies showing that we are more productive when we take time to nap. For more information on napping, check out this Harvard article: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/napping-may-not-be-such-a-no-no