It’s the theme of the week, the month, the year, these past two years. It’s one of the messages embedded in covid. We’re moving too fast. We can’t catch our breath. We can’t drop into our bodies. We can’t find center.
Everyone I talk to says the same thing, “I’m so tired. I can’t keep up. I’m trying to keep all of the balls in the air but they keep falling. I want to slow down but I’m having a hard time doing it.”
So Victoria and I wanted to address this on Gathering Gold by talking about The Hidden Gifts of Slowing Down. And Victoria had the brilliant idea of recording the episode at the pace of the topic: slowly, with pauses between our thoughts, and sometimes between our words. We worried that it would be “boring”, but we addressed the topic of boredom as well.
Come with us as we float down the slow-moving river of conversation. We encourage you to listen when you can drop down to a slow pace and take it in, one thing at a time, resisting the urge to multitask. Notice what arises in your mind and heart, what happens to your nervous system, your body, your thoughts. Do you catch a deeper breath than you’ve gotten all day? Do you find a quiet spot in your mind where before there was only noise? We certainly did while recording.
We hope you feel embraced by the slowness. We hope you feel the shame or fear or resistance loosen, and kindness, warmth and compassion enter, as we ponder how to invite slowness in—and what awaits us when we do.
I wrote the following in anticipation of the recording, and wanted to share it here. This is what arises for me when I slow down. What arises for you?
In the summer, I walk most evenings at around 7:30 PM. The sun has dipped below the mountains and it’s cool enough to walk the streets of our neighborhood. I used to walk at a fast clip, using that time to get some exercise in. Some evenings I still walk quickly, but lately my body has been giving me a very clear message.
The message starts by noticing how tired my legs are, how even the slightest incline in our mostly flat neighborhood feels laborious, effortful, as if I’m hiking up a steep incline.
So I listen to my legs and I slow my pace and as soon as I slow down I start to notice things.
First off, I notice an ease in my body, as if it is saying, “Thank you for listening. Thank you for not pushing. Thank you for slowing down.”
Next I notice the textures in the clouds above me, and the various shades of blues and grays and whites and silvers.
When the rain starts falling I welcome it because I’m in alignment with the natural rhythm of things, not forcing my own agenda but melding into the current.
I notice the sounds of birds’ wings flapping in the trees.
I notice the two dark shapes crossing the road ahead of me and realize that they’re baby raccoons.
When I slow down, it’s as if time slows down. Or perhaps it’s that I am in step with time instead of racing ahead of it, swiftly swiftly charging through an evening walk.
And when I slow down, I stop scrolling through my phone looking for a podcast to listen to. I stop calling my friends hoping that one of them will answer.
When I slow down I am filled up with the good company of my own song. The urge to reach out and fill my mind and heart with outward things is reflexive, but it’s not actually what my soul needs. At least not right now, in this moment.
I don’t have the energy anymore to push past my capacity. I emptied that reservoir long ago. I don’t know that any of us have the energy to push past our capacity. It’s become clear to me and to many others that one of the messages of this time, one of the messages brought by covid, is that we urgently need to slow down. When covid first hit this country in March 2020, the message became startlingly clear to many people as we were forced to re-prioritize and re-organize our lives.
But as we have emerged back into the world it seems that the pace is faster than ever, as if we’re trying to make up for lost time. I don’t think we’ve gotten the message quite yet.
We’re still trying to multitask. We’re still switching and scrolling and clicking and posting at a mad pace. I do it too. I’m not immune.
But then I remember.
My legs tell me.
My back tells me.
My eyes tell me.
My feet tell me.
My breath tells me.
My body tells me.
These bodies. These extraordinarily wise teachers that we have with us all the time. They tell us everything we need, if only we slow down long enough to listen.
When I listen…
I remember that it’s in doing one thing at a time, mindfully and slowly, where my deepest joy lives.
I remember to return to this moment, to put the screens and airpods away, to slow down, to come home.