RECOVERING OUR BIRTHRIGHT TO JOYFUL MOVEMENT
There is more to life than
increasing its speed.
SLOW DOWN (YOU MOVE TOO FAST)
©2016 KarenGuertler.com. All rights reserved.
Why slow down, you ask?
To experience what is,
Not what you expect.
Alexander Technique teacher
We know our final destination is
the cemetery. Why are we in such a
hurry to get there? ~Thich Nhat Hanh
You’ve got to make the moment last.
The message from an old pop tune has never been needed more than it is today. The tendency of people in this century to equate speed with productivity and “too much to do” with our own importance has led many to look for ways to return to a saner pace of living.
Larry Dossy, M.D., has coined the term “time sickness” to describe our belief that there is never enough time, that we must pedal ever faster just to keep up. We multitask (proven to be inefficient, as if we needed a study to confirm that) our way through the day and wonder where the time went, why we didn’t enjoy ourselves, why we had to repeat some tasks that we didn’t do well because we were distracted, and why we are always so tired. We believe that instant gratification takes too long.
Our work ethic run amok has put our health at risk. The fastest nations are also the fattest. The Japanese have a word, karoshi, meaning death by overwork. The inevitable result of our trying to do too much by yesterday is that sleep gets shortchanged. Fatigue has played a role in disasters (Chernobyl, Union Carbide, Exxon Valdez), and drowsiness causes more car accidents than alcohol.
Perhaps we need to remember that the principle of evolution is the survival of the fittest, not the fastest.
If we want to get off the treadmill, there is support. A worldwide “slow food” movement toward restoring reason to meals is spreading. People take time to prepare wholesome food, often with friends, take time to eat while enjoying company and the taste of the food, and take time to relax afterward.
The change goes beyond mealtimes. Bra and three other Italian towns have pledged to be unfrenzied havens, more livable communities.
This global slow movement is not just about resisting haste, but rather shorthand
for a philosophy of life, ways of being and interacting with all connections to our world.
Spirituality and meaningful connections to others are, by nature, slow.
Sometimes slow yields faster results than fast. Every being, event, and process has its own inherent pace, and there are times to move quickly, but much of our sense of urgency is self-imposed.
I see hope in the dramatic increase in the number of farmers markets that have sprung up in
the last two decades and in the interest in all things artisan. I take heart in the steady increase in
organic farming. Intensive farming (more, faster, bigger) yields poor quality of livestock and products.
But the movement is about more than slowing down. It is more about being aware of each moment as it happens (yes, we are finally getting to Alexander Technique). It is more about a mindset, as the war against the cult of speed is inside our heads. It is not anti-tech, but more about examining our habitual frenetic pace and considering a more conscious balance between habit and new possibilities. Just as we are most comfortable when we allow our bodies to determine our best movement patterns, so our minds can operate most creatively when we aren’t forcing them to race around at warp speed.
Am I suggesting that we always move at a slug’s pace? Of course not. What I am recommending is that our extreme busyness might present an excellent opportunity to experiment with modifying our velocity, even if for only one meal per day, one ten-minute leisurely walk, or a five-minute “time-out” on a park bench. Perhaps allowing multiple short pauses throughout our days in which to be fully present will help us learn to bring that poise seamlessly into our lives, improving them in countless and unexpected ways.
What I hope is that we learn to choose consciously how we structure our time, our attention, our “must do’s” so that they enhance and enrich our lives, rather than merely fill them up.