Milan Kundera writes in his novel La Lenteur (1993) something that goes like this: When things happen too fast, nobody can be sure of anything, nothing really. Not even ourselves.
Things like friends, family, community, connect us to this planet – and they require time so that they can flourish.
During the holidays I realized: I don’t want a family that communicates with notes on a fridge, are in a hurry in the mornings and have a full schedule planned for weeks ahead on the door of fridge. Nope! But when you start to slow down, it also means less money. You need to give up on something and make sacrifices. For us this means, for example, that instead of making lots of money to buy a big apartment, we are going to get a little one – if we want to follow this path and stay in Finland.
Last autumn, I attended to a Mindfulness course at the Adult education center. This course was important in so many ways. Because of the low price, we were a group of variegated people: pensioners, young students, middle age women and men already tired of the working life, housewives and curious minds like me. Everyone had their backgrounds and reasons to attend this course. However, one factor was common: they all seemed to suffer from a strong stress experience and a feeling of inadequacy in their daily lives. From the mindfulness course they had come to seek more conscious presence and stress management skills in their everyday life.
During the course we did meditation and relaxation exercises, we ate a candy in a mindful way (very slowly) to taste all its variations. We did a walking meditation a playground near by and discussed. At the end of the course, a spouse who had recently lost her husband stated that she had noticed the benefits of doing regular mindfulness exercises in her everyday life. She said, that she felt less stress in her everyday life and she had started to do things more consciously, such as, for example, washing the dishes.
During Christmas, I did a social media detox and went offline for some days. Although, I think my Instagram use is still under control, I did notice that without a phone in my hand every “boring time” I did get to experience sweet boredom … even when I did get things done more efficacy than usual, I did get to actually feel a bit bored – the felling that we hardly experience today. We have so many things to do all the time. I could have take my computer and write a new blog post or to advance my work projects, but this time I decided to surrender for this sweet feeling of boredom. After a couple of days when I finished my detox, I forgot to open my Instagram and I realized I wanted to be more offline. A pause did its work.
During those days I had more time to think in clear mind and make place for new ideas.
In his book Slow – Live Slower, Carl Honoré summarizes the philosophy of slowness in one word: balance. And for that, there’s no shortcut or magic button to press. For experience balance in life we just need to practice more conscious presence in our everyday life.
After I participated in a meditation and relaxation teacher training, I find that, I have become a bit more hippie than before, but I feel that the most important thing we can do to maintain balance in our life is to practice conscious breathing, where the thoughts are guided for this moment and your breathing rhythm only. For me, this insight has helped me in everyday life and all the challenges that I have faced. Always: just take a deep breath. I recommend. Try it and make it a habit.
Instead of starting the year in a rush and putting the barrier even higher, I decided to lower it this time. For my family and me, our common theme for the year 2019 is slow growing in various areas in our life. Its cornerstones are presence, balance and enjoying our time here in this planet.
I wish you a conscious and slow year 2019!
Picture: Christophe Adam, Raahe, Mikonkari.
A slow down list for the autumn