On the Radical Nature of Slowing Down


This morning brought a wonderful opinion piece in the New York Times by Cassady Rosenblum. Work is a False Idol speaks of the "lying flat movement" and "the transformative power of rest." It's a reminder that sacrificing your life for a career need not be mandatory. The idea of a slower life "of reading, exercising, and doing odd jobs" is evidently gaining traction. I say evidently because one of my personal rules is to check social media accounts, at most, once a day. That's part of my own slowing down and my own resistance.


I led a mini-retreat this weekend, and during the mindful movement, I was thinking about how my mind and body used to fight the slow pace of mindful yoga and mindful walking. It seemed to unnatural years ago. That's kid of funny because you're not supposed to be thinking during the mindful movement--you're supposed to be paying attention to the sensations in the body that accompany movement.


Are You Being In Your Life?

I've always been a striver, a doer, and someone who's constantly in motion with goals, benchmarks, and rubrics. Maybe that's why I gravitated toward teaching mindfulness; I was engineering space for learning how to be in my life. I had to pay a bunch of money and allot all kinds of time to the endeavor. That's what I needed to do; it was the price of learning how to be.


During this weekend's retreat, there was 10 minutes that didn't involve leading a practice. Ten minutes of just being. Can you do that today? Can you take 10 minutes to look up at the sky, watch the birds and the butterflies, sit on the beach doing nothing, sit on your porch doing nothing? Not exercising, reading, writing, listening to music . . . just being in your life as the sounds wash over you and thoughts and sensations come and go. No need to take a picture or post it anywhere.


Learning How to Be In Your Life

It's weird, I know, the idea that anyone would need to learn how to be. But somewhere between discovering the world while learning how to walk years ago and today, all of that luxurious being was replaced by doing. After all, that's what responsible people do. That's what grown-ups do.


But I beg to differ. That photo above is from one of my retreats at the Garrison Institute. I'd say that I would sit in that chair doing nothing for hours, but it was more like minutes as it was so uncomfortable! I learned how to be with that discomfort for a bit, though, before moving on to the labyrinth for some slow walking.


I don't know about you, but I had to learn how to slow down. And then there's dealing with a world that values speed. Speed can be intoxicating. Being able to do things well and fast is valued in our culture. We value many of the wrong things.


Join Me for a Class in a New Way of Being

Maybe you have an intuition that your way of being in your life could use some help--some guidance. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is that kind of guidance. We learn how to be with our lives and in our lives. It's a radical slowing down, and it takes time and commitment. September brings MBSR, Mindfulness for Teens (including discussion about social media, decision-making, identity and values), and Mindfulness for Financial Advisors (I have consulted in that industry for years).


Join me, and please share this with anyone you think might be interested . . .