“Slow down. Daily contemplation of life is a root for wellness, healing and fulfillment. It is how you gather meaning and purpose. If you are rushing, you cannot see. If you cannot see, you crash into things. Including poor decisions. Breathe. Pause. Contemplate. Gather meaning. Welcome to your beautiful life.” —Dr. Jaiya John, author, poet, and former professor of social psychology at Howard University
To force a flower to bloom decreases the anticipatory joy of watching it gradually journey through the stages of reaching its full beauty. And as we rush the flower to reach maturity, we hasten its demise. Often the longer the wait, more strength the flower is gaining to share its beauty for a lengthy duration. Think of a tree, newly planted. Often in the first years of growth very little growth is seen above ground; little to no height gained during the first three years. Why? The roots are ever reaching, stretching ever deeper and giving the tree that we see above ground the strength to reveal its true and amazing potential. It isn’t until the foundation is firmly nurtured and established, which takes time, and patience for the roots to find their way, the best way to water that is down deep beneath the surface, that the roots send up the energy for the branches to begin to stretch to the sky.
When we race, we bump into things, even if we have all of our faculties of good sight, agility, and awareness. The reaction time we need to drive well demands all of our energy and focus and even the slightest distraction or minor bump can throw us into a situation that brings extra cost, time and potential injury, ironically actually slowing us down further rather than swiftly taking us to where we wish to go. Because we choose to travel at a racing speed, we are unable to notice the opportunity that stood still as we zoomed by. How could we see it? All of our attention had to be on the road that is hundreds of feet down the journey. Because we have to advance our focus miles down the road to avoid vehicles ahead of us, to be present would be hazardous, but what is hazardous to living well is to not be present.
There are many reasons we travel through our days, our lives, at far too swift a pace. For some we are attempting to run away from something, to avoid something or someone that we don’t have the tools or skills yet to know how to do so effectively, and ironically, we actually stay right where we are although the names, faces and places may change, in pain, confused, and our swift pace only deepens the pain because we actually are not confronting it. By speedily traveling through our days with more responsibilities, more activities, a bursting schedule, we don’t give ourselves time to understand what is incongruent in our lives, what is making us feel off-balance, who or what by their words, beliefs or treatment keeps us away from finding peace. For others we are trying to gain acceptance from the world because we have been told and errantly believe we are not enough as we are, so we chase, we hustle, we grind and display great grit, but we do so to the detriment of our well-being. For others still, we have accepted a false truth that to live at a slower pace is to be lazy, uninspired or to waste our life, and so we have been shamed into living at a speed that keeps us constantly off balance and never able to find peace.
No doubt there are other reasons still that people who travel quickly are motivated to do so, and each of us, when we choose to be the student of ourselves, will discover what drives us to whiz through the finite days of our one and only life. But to travel too quickly, (and each of us will have our own ‘speed’ that is slow, that is ideal, that is gentle, that is nourishing, that is optimal) is to race into headaches, mistaken decisions, ‘accidents’ and as Jaiya John, ‘poor decisions’.
In 2020 I wrote a post sharing a detailed list enumerating seven ideas for how to slow down because understandably when we have been traveling at such a fast pace, reducing it will be difficult as we have become accustomed to the rhythm of life, the interactions, the responses, etc., etc. that we encounter in our speedy days of travel. It will initially feel ‘wrong’ or unsettling to slow down and take in all that an everyday moment has to offer, perhaps overwhelming because finally, we are witnessing the entirety of the moment, and we may witness or experience truths that are discomfiting because we then realize we have to change how we live, who we live with, what we do, how we do, etc., etc. in order to honor our true self. We may also become acutely aware of how we, with our default habits, have fanned the flames of unconstructive patterns that have kept us in a life path that doesn’t nurture our true selves and life journey that will bring us contentment. But this is all good news.
It is all good news because we now see clearly because we are traveling at a slower pace and can begin to make different choices, engage differently, live differently. And that leads me to share a list of more benefits gained by slowing our pace of life down. Let’s take a look.
- Decrease your pace and increase your clarity.
- Decrease your pace and increase your patience.
- Decrease your pace and increase your enjoyment in your everydays.
- Decrease your pace and increase your strength to honor your true self.
- Decrease your pace and discover the present moment and all of its opportunities for awe.
- Decrease your pace and heal your being, your mind, your soul, your guiding inner compass.
- Decrease your ‘to-do’s and increase the quality of productivity.
- Decrease your pace and increase the security within yourself.
The irony of speedily going through our days is that while we unconsciously think we are getting away from what we do not want, and the faster we can do that the better, the reality is we actually are more likely to repeat the same mistake that we are running away from. We run from one unhealthy friendship to another, one insecure based co-dependent romantic relationship to another, one unfulfilling job to another, and so on and so on. Why? Because we are running, and our swift pace doesn’t give us the time to reflect, to contemplate . . . to understand what wasn’t working, what we need for us to be fulfilled. Going too fast pulls us away from our inner voice, something that when we finally slow down, as I shared in this post, we are finally able to hear (i.e. understand) what our true self longs for. Here is a quote from the post, “Let your heart guide you. It whispers, so listen carefully.” And if we are racing, life becomes too noisy, and we cannot hear what our heart wishes us to understand, and thus to trust and act upon with wisdom and grounded clarity.
So today, and as you move into this new week, take time to check your speed through your days. Regularly create space to breathe, witness the natural beauty such as the rose above (my young neighbor recently commented on this specific rose bloom describing it as ”the perfect rose”, and indeed, his keen observant eye saw the beauty), relax and be still. If doing so makes you feel uncomfortable, know that this is perfectly normal and a sign that paradoxically, you are doing exactly what you need to be doing. As you move into this slower pace of living in your everydays, such restful moments will become comfortable because once you have taken the time to understand your initial discomfort, make the necessary choices and decisions, thus changes (some difficult, some easy), you know you are on your true journey, headed in the right direction and at peace with your pace of life so you savor in each present moment what it wants to share with you.
Wishing you a wonderful start to the day and final week of September. Bonne journée.
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