“ I do know plenty of people who would say they live an intentional life who would frankly do anything rather than put the brakes on for a bit…”
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This is part 2 in The Life Spotters Slow Living Series, if you’d like an in-depth introduction into Slow living and what it means to live Slow, then read:
Alternatively, for tips on how to incorporate Slow Living into your day to day life, please see:
I think the reason some people fear slowing down is that in order to do so, you have to be reeeeal comfortable with yourself.
A lot of our current obsession with speed and our frantic way of darting from one thing to the next stems directly from a disconnect with Self. We are constantly craving the next thing/ the best thing/ the biggest thing, simply to plug this void in our existence.
There is a gaping hole in our collective consciousness as fewer and fewer people can honestly look in the mirror and say they love the person they see.
Few of us even recognise the person we see there, let alone genuinely adore them.
But when you slow down, when you take away the noise and the distraction and all the rushing, you find you are there. Entirely and fully there.
This can be uncomfortable for some, getting back in touch with yourself in this day and age where we are so very entertained all the time. There is always something to distract us, to perform for us, to delight us. And so what if you strip all that away? What then?
You know when people say they “found themselves”? Or when you hear those stories about people who went on a “voyage of self-discovery”?
The language here is interesting, and yet we NEVER question it…People are talking about having LOST THEMSELVES…they actually talk about finding themselves just like looking for their keys or phone… isn’t that odd? That we are all just like, Oh, OK, cool! I’d love to do that…
So where the cuss are we all? We get left behind while all the rushing about is happening…
Stop. Pause. Breathe.
Find yourself again. Learn to love yourself again.
A fast approach tends to be a superficial one, but when you slow down you begin to engage more deeply with whatever it is you’re doing. You’re also forced to confront what’s happening inside you – which is one of the reasons why I think we find it so hard to slow down. Speed becomes a form of denial. It’s a way of running away from those more deeper, tangled problems. Instead of focusing on questions like who am I, and what is my role here, it all becomes a superficial to-do list.
So how do we untangle these problems? How do we avoid the superficial and “find ourselves”?
Beginning your own journey of self-discovery
You don’t need to go solo backpacking around the world or flee to an ashram in India, you can start your own journey of self-discovery right here and now. Returning to a slower pace and allowing yourself the space to breathe can lead you back to yourself.
Find yourself – S.L.O.W it down
Consider the SLOW anacronym. Now, this is generally only used in reference to slow food, but I think it can be translated into slow living and the art of finding yourself. (Humour me, OK? I’m sure this could be a thing…I’m sure gonna try and make it a thing in any case…)
S = Sustainable
Being someone you are not is exhausting! This is just not a sustainable practice long term. Being comfortable with yourself and maintaining your values and integrity is the art of becoming a sustainable “you”.
L = Local
Hmmm, how can I make this work…Stay where you are?!
Ok, Consider your location:
Are you struggling in your current environment? Where do you thrive? Take yourself on a trip to somewhere that fills you with joy and serenity. Consider it coming home. Whether that is the home you grew up in, your current home, or somewhere totally unrelated but that feeds your soul, like the forest or the beach. Take yourself to the place where you feel most at home and like yourself. Pay attention to what that feels like to you.
O = Organic
Let yourself evolve. Don’t try to conform or fit in, you need to grow. Forcing yourself into someone else’s space will stifle you.
Let yourself develop organically.
W = Whole
You are whole. You are full and wise and lacking nothing. Everything you need is already at your disposal if you would only open yourself up to that possibility.
So S.L.O.W your life. Use this a starting point for self-discovery. Ask yourself:
Take a moment to answer these questions, being aware of your emotional responses
Observe your emotions
It’s something I suggest a lot, (and will continue to do so, because it ROCKS) but meditation will be one of your very best buddies if you are looking to live a slower life.
Meditation is one of the simplest ways to slow your mind and connect to yourself. Be open to what you might discover. It can be difficult sometimes and that is OK.
Be still, be quiet, allow yourself to observe your emotions. No judging, no analysing, just recognising them. When you are done is the time to reflect and question what your feelings are telling you and how you can apply that to your life.
If meditation is a new thing for you or you’ve tried before without success, then please read my ‘Beginners guide to meditation’ for information on how to create a meditation practice that sticks!
Just be. To welcome a slow, still, calm sense of peace into your life you need to learn to just be.
Engage deeply with every moment. Connect. With yourself, of course, but with others and the world around you too. Really connect! Make everything you do sacred. Every word deliberate, every touch sincere.
Pay attention to the details: delight in the swirls of steam rising from your warm coffee cup, inhaling the rich scent, feel the heat of it in your hands before you take your first sip and really taste it.
Be still and watch the world around you, notice when you feel joy, when you feel pleasure. We are so often plagued by feelings of guilt when we take these moments for ourselves. Like we are wasting our time and should be getting on with more important things.
But really, these ARE the important things. These small triggers, the little things that make us tick, the things that inspire us and light our hearts. These are the things that truly matter. These are the clues to where our lost selves can be found.
Find your inner child
Think back to when you were small. What did you love to do? What did you want to be when you grew up? Slowing down allows your inner child a chance to come out and play! Remind yourself how it feels to be childlike and entertained by simple pleasures.
Chances are you’ll find you really haven’t changed as much as you think, and the things that were important to you then still hold real value today.
How far are you from what you wanted once? How can you get back on track?
Reconnect with your purpose
I’m not talking about what you want to do for a living, I’m talking about what you want to do with your life.
Your purpose is what you believe fundamentally, at your core. Your dreams, your hopes. Everything you need to look back on a life well-lived when you reach its inevitable end.
Your purpose is what makes you “you”.
If you want to grow, you need space. Slow down, press the pause button. Take some time to reflect. There is no rush. Allow the heartbeat of your life to pulse and remind you what it is you want. Be authentically you!
If you find you’re still struggling with what your purpose is, I strongly recommend writing a personal mission statement, or as I prefer to call it, a Muchness Manifesto. There is something about having a written ethos which really cements where you are heading! I refer to mine constantly when I am in need of guidance, and it always puts me back in touch with my true, authentic self.
Find yourself with patience
We all get distracted, we all get a little lost from time to time. But taking the time to slow down and appreciate ourselves, to learn to love ourselves, that is something we could all benefit from. Be patient. Slow living provides the space to get back in touch with a sense of who we are, of what we need to flourish and thrive.
Remove the chaos, the noise, the distractions, and find yourself again! And remember, when in doubt, ask yourself these 4 questions:
- Is your current attitude or lifestyle sustainable? Can you maintain this ongoing?
- Are you in a good location? Where do you need to be to flourish?
- Are you allowing yourself to develop organically?
- Are you whole? If not, what is lacking?
Want to know how to apply Slow Living principles to your day to day life? Check out Part 3 in the Slow Living series: Everyday Slow.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Slow living – are you still living in Speedsville but considering moving to a slower neighbourhood? Or maybe you’ve already committed! If so have you found slowing the pace of your life has helped you form a better connection with yourself? Leave a comment below!