“Everything eventually slows down to a manageable pace when we allow our relationship with this moment to matter.” — Sharon Salzburg
Learning to notice that you are sped up and, in response, down-regulate, is a valuable life skill. It is a foundation upon which to build self-awareness, self-regulation, and well-being. Cultivating a slower inner speed is essential to being present and not missing your own life. When you slow down, there is the space to give, receive, connect and enjoy a satisfying life.
Living in a chronic rev, as many of us do, is damaging to your health. Feeling like you are always racing and never have enough time is exhausting and yet, paradoxically, often challenging to shift. Try these steps as a practice to support you in authentically embodying a slower pace.
Step 1: Make Friends With Time
Before you get out of bed, repeat to yourself several times: I have plenty of time. And I so appreciate the time that I have. Notice if some inner voice starts making objections. If so, address them. Have you planned too much? Have you not allotted enough time to get from A to B if there’s traffic? Whatever shows up, acknowledge it with a promise to look into it later and if need, make changes. Then, go back to repeating: I have plenty of time, until you actually appreciate Time as the gift that allows you to experience your life, express yourself in it, and share it with the people you love.
Step 2: Prioritize Well-Being And Let Your Body Be Your Guide
Now that you and Time are friends, notice how you feel. Name the quality — open, present, relaxed, easy, available, happy, soft, alive. Set an intention to be that way throughout your day. Make sustaining that feeling in your body your top priority and move your to-do list down to secondary! Use this feeling/quality as your compass. Whenever you notice you don’t feel that way, shift yourself back. If you experience that you are unable to shift yourself to a state of ease or that you spend most of your day stressed, recognize that you are negatively impacting your health and it’s time to make some lifestyle changes.
Step 3: Cultivate A Daily Meditation Or Mindfulness Practice
It’s vital to spend at least 15 minutes a day in a practice that calms your nervous system, clears your mind, and develops your self-awareness. To be able to slow down and be mindful throughout the day, you need to be able to easily and quickly drop into that slowed down place in your body. There are many meditation, mindfulness, and self-care tools and techniques to choose from. My practice includes:
- Sending my energy and awareness down to connect/ground to the earth beneath my feet. I like to imagine being a tree or mountain and that the earth is holding me.
- Resting back into wherever I am — the chair, the bed, the floor. I release any tension to gravity and acknowledge the support I receive in return.
- Breathing fully and slowly in and out my nose and slowing my inner speed. If I’m going 60 mph inside but I’m sitting or standing still, my feet are on the brake and the gas at the same time! I am out of synch and ruining my engine. So, I very slowing exhale, sometimes making a hissing sound, like a balloon leaking air, to bring my system down to an appropriate speed such as 15-20 mph, alert and relaxed.
- Imagining my eyes widening apart, my forehead expanding like the horizon, and my mid-brain soft and fluid.
- Visualizing someone I love or something for which I am grateful in order to attune to the positive.
- Once I’m slowed down, I notice how my inner sensations have shifted and I acknowledge myself for choosing to make that shift and how much better it feels.
- I practice identifying with my awareness and sitting with what is. I allow what arises and observe with neutrality.
Life happens in the now, moment by moment. If you want to successfully slow down, enjoy your life, be a mindful parent, write a book, get healthier, or create something new inside of a full life, you must value the moments of your life, designate how you want to spend your time, and fully show up for them. Be honest with others about what you want for yourself by identifying the intentions and goals that deeply matter to you, then attend to those first. Prioritize your time and you will become more aware of how much time you need for the things you really care about.
Leah Kalish, MA, is a founder of the yoga in education movement. Through her company, Move with Me Yoga Adventures, she produces play, yoga, and mindfulness-based educational materials and trains teachers nationwide in how to more effectively engage the whole child, enhance social-emotional competence, and improve wellness. Visit www.move-with-me.com.