Our Fast-Paced Culture is Leaving Us Breathless but There is a Remedy

by | Jul 31, 2022 | Anxiety, HSP, Podcast | 10 comments

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.

Click here to watch and listen to a clip from the episode. 

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.

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10 Comments

  1. I loved this so so much ❤️ Thank you Sheryl and Victoria

    Reply
    • I’m so glad, Meg. Thank you for letting us know. ❤️

      Reply
  2. This is so beautiful. Thank you and bless you Sheryl xx

    Reply
  3. This post reached me at a time where I am sitting on a bench in an old graveyard enjoying some silence and sun rays on my face, eating my simple lunch. I was worried walking down to this place as my legs also feels so tired, and my mind exhausted from all the change the last 2 years. I just needed some peace and silence. Then I read this article sitting here – and thank you immensely for opening my eyes that I am not alone feeing this way.

    Reply
  4. Oh Sheryl,
    Thank you ❤️❤️❤️
    That’s exactly what I needed today! And again, so beautifuly written….

    Reply
    • I’m so glad it landed in a good place, Bettina. Sending you so much love. 💕

      Reply
  5. I listened to this episode. Slowly. Over three sittings. I loved it. It deeply resonated. I feel so much comes back to this irreducible human need to slow down. To take time. To pause. The spirit cannot find peace without it. We cannot organize our lives to not need it.

    I was reminded, as I was listening, of something a spiritual teacher that I was connected with in my 30s told me. She was a white Australia but married to a First Nations man. She said that in Wiradjuri (the language of the First Nations people around parts of what we now call Central New South Wales) the word for “spiritual path” is the same as the word for “going slowly” (I haven’t been able to verify it, but I trust her). I always loved that. In essence, they are one and the same.

    I love your and Victoria’s discussion and reflections, and the deep peaceful presence you both emanated in your conversation. It helped me drop into stillness and peace too. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Thank you Sheryl and Victoria for this episode! I really needed to hear your discussion today. I tuned in while driving home from work, feeling super upset after being repeatedly talked over when I tried to contribute during a 2-hour long meeting. It really is frustrating when that happens, and also dealing with people stuck in a mindset of rushing. When in reality, we have all the time and we don’t have to “fight” for air-time or over who is worthy of speaking. I also came from a family where speaking over one another was the norm, and so in my adult life, like at work, I feel myself silenced again in the corner waiting until it’s safe for me to finally speak. A very upsetting place to be in, but listening to this episode and slowing down was exactly what I needed to process my emotions, journal on my feelings, and write this comment! 🙂 Also, it’s so true that a good therapist is a huge blessing in one’s life because they provide us the gift of unconditional listening. I think taking your courses and going to an amazing therapist was role-modeling for me to become a more empathetic listener for sure. Anyways, I appreciate all you both do and great episode!

    Reply

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