(Some) Benefits to Slow Living
Corrie Ten Boom once said, "If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy." This quote resonates so profoundly in my soul because it's when I'm impatient (in the moment and in life) that I find myself adding more stuff to my metaphoric plate. This busyness then acts as an agent of divisiveness - disconnecting me from my Creator, myself, and from others.
Here's the deal. If you read nothing else, know that a slower-pace helps with:
Stress-relief: there is so much information on the adverse effects of stress on both our mental and physical health
Our relationships with others: recall the "present" you - sitting there still, no place to immediately go, no gadgets to check, and no internal clock ticking. You can listen and be in tune. Now, consider when you are in a hurry... is that person the same?
Being present to the task in front of us
Appreciation of the moment
There are more benefits, but let's start with the five above. Actually, let’s begin with a quote from Queen Winfrey:
"Slow down, because the only moment we can really live is now. Being in the present moment, if you can learn to do that, begins to change your whole life. Just staying focused on what is happening now . . . When we're truly present, we recognize that the ordinary moments are life's greatest gifts.”
HURRY and STRESS
Over-scheduling your day can create "hurry sickness." Hurry sickness causes stress. Stress has been linked to anxiety, depression, digestive problems, headaches, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and memory and concentration impairment. There is even a link to certain cancers. But stress isn't just seen within health (mental and physical)- it's also visible in our personalities, our being.
Studies show that our personalities are negatively affected when we are stressed. Personally, I am a monster when I feel overtired, over-hurried, and overscheduled. I am prone to outbursts, irritability, and pure bratty behavior. When I feel a tight squeeze, I move into survival mode, I am no longer able to be thoughtful, creative, caring, empathetic, or attentive.
A trip to the market is a prime example. If I'm in a rush, I cannot think about whether a product is fair-trade, organic, sustainable, the best price, or even suitable for my boys. I just grab or skip and go. The loud internal countdown is so loud that the still small voice that cares deeply about the treatment of the earth, my fellow world-citizens, farmers, my pocketbook, or even my boys' health is drowned out. Once I get in the line waiting for my groceries, I am not compassionate - I am annoyed at the gentleman, in his late 70's, in the "fast" lane returning his half-eaten carton of blackberries (he can't find the receipt). I roll my eyes and sigh when he then begins paying for his raspberries in change. I cannot see outside of my deadline and my goals.
And I know I'm not alone. In Sabbath, by Wayne Muller, he says,
"A 'successful' life has become a violent enterprise. We make war on our own bodies, pushing them beyond their limits; war on our children, because we cannot find enough time to be with them when they are hurt and afraid, and need our company; war on our spirit, because we are too preoccupied to listen to the quiet voices that seek to nourish and refresh us; war on our communities, because we are fearfully protecting what we have, and do not feel safe enough to be kind and generous; war on the earth, because we cannot take the time to place our feet on the ground and allow it to feed us, to taste its blessings and give thanks."
SLOW DOWN AND THINK
Carl Honoré said, "The central tenet of the slow philosophy is taking the time to do things properly, and thereby enjoy them more."
The most important thing about slow living for me is that it presents places of elevation, enlightenment, and revelation. I'm permitted to be present, prayerful, and reflective during everyday tasks. When I move slow, I feel connected to myself, my Creator, the world around me, and my ancestors. I love working on a task and hitting the flow state or getting "in the zone."
I keep, Liturgy of the Ordinary close to my home desk at all times. Although it's not a book on moving slowly, the idea of finding ways to be prayerful at all times reminds me of All We Know of Heaven, about a young monk searching for his identity within a Cistercian monastery (one of my favorite reads). In the book, the reader can see the way that a slow daily rhythm - even when doing chores in silence - can become a moment of deep internal conversations. In Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren says, "But in my life, time is most often something I manage, or something I resent - something, it seems, that I never have enough of. In my frenetic life, I forget how to slow down and wait. For the good of my own soul, I need to feel what it's like to wait, to let the moments march past. And here I am, plunged into an ancient spiritual practice in the middle of the freeway [in traffic] - forced, against my will, to practice waiting."
SLOW DOES NOT MEAN IDLE
It's so lovely to focus on one thing instead of thinking about what's next. It's nice to spend an entire day without the hustle and bustle. But please hear me, this doesn't mean that you are sitting in front of the television all day. Or that you dedicate an entire day to having nothing to do (although that sounds lovely). Slow-living does not mean crawl into a ball and stop existing. It's merely not putting too much on your plate. It's resisting the urge to be busy all the time. It's the act of being content with who you are and where you are in the moment.
Once we are mindful of OUR individual capacity and our desired designation in the season, we can sort through what needs to happen within our daily rhythm. Slow living is about sincere prayer, reflection, and planning. Moving slow is the balance between saying a few "no's" so that we can say "yes" to more meaningful moments. And while doing the significant tasks, remaining grateful and focused as we resist the urge to think "what's next."
When I am moving slow, I am doing my best - in a task, in parenthood, in life, in my relationships, in my advocacy, and in my walk with the Most High.
I leave you with a quote from Pico Iyer, "In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention."
Shalom & Polepole, friends.
Edited by Ashley Yancey