Mindfulness Made Easy – Practice #9 Go very Slow

Here is the ninth of my 50 Mindful Practices  from my upcoming book. Please sign up for my weekly emails if you want to get the rest automatically in your email box. I welcome your feedback and please pass along to your friends!


Practice 9: Go very slow

“Not causing harm requires staying awake. Part of being awake is slowing down enough to notice what we say and do. The more we witness our emotional chain reactions and understand how they work, it’s easier to refrain. It becomes a way of life to stay awake, slow down and notice” Pema Chodron

What it is. You may have heard of the internationally successful slow food movement. It was started by a handful of people who believe that we should not rush food. We should not rush growing food, harvesting food, preparing food and eating food. They wanted to reclaim the natural cycles of food and help humans get more in touch with the very nourishment that keeps us alive.  They have taught us how to savour food and relationships! What a great idea! Now there is even a slow medical movement, combating the speed at which we diagnose and resolve medical issues.

We live our lives in a complete rush. We move from catastrophe to catastrophe in continual movement – seeing, responding, reacting, planning, eating, yelling and rarely pausing. We launch into situations and before we know it we are flipping out and blaming others for their foul moods, bad  tempers or inappropriate responses.  In reality, much of this could be preventing simply by slowing down a bit, and giving yourself time to pause before moving from one situation to the next.

How to do it. Think back over your first waking hour this morning. Recall in as much detail as possible what you did and who you spoke to. Did you wake slowly and eat your breakfast calmly? Did you leap out of bed, speed into the shower, and shovel down your breakfast, or skip it altogether? For the next hour try to go as slow as you possibly can. Notice your internal urge to pick up speed and where you feel it in your body. If you catch yourself rushing simply stop, take three slow deep breaths, drop your shoulders, smile and continue.

The key to slowing down is mostly noticing how you are moving.  When are you moving at break-neck speeds? When are you calm and in the flow? When are you completely still? Over time and with some reflection you may begin to understand the deeper reasons for your compulsion to speed.

What to notice. The most obvious benefit to slowing down is the sense of relaxation you feel. It feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Slowing down also causes your mind to clear. You are able to see and think more clearly. It’s as if the fog lifts, if only for a second. You will be able to observe things that moments before were just a blur.  Over time you may discover that there is a little voice (I call the slave driver) in your brain that is telling you to never stop. This voice may be telling you things like, “If you stop you will be worthless or broke” or “No one will likes lazy people.”   Being mindful of this voice (also called the ego) helps you understand the deeper roots as to why you find it so hard to slow down.

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