“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast-you also miss the sense of where you are going and why." -Eddie Cantor
I recently was on the Gulf Islands, where the locals talk about ‘Island Time’. There are even bumper stickers that say ‘I’m On Island time’ to notify city people that there’s no need to keep tailgating, I’m not going any faster! After a coffee at ‘Slow Coast Coffee’ (you’re starting to see a theme here too?) I realized that slowing down is something we actively need to value and encourage in our own selves and in our communities.
If we take the time to notice if we are living in such a way that we are constantly feeling rushed and anxious then maybe it is time to ‘untrain’ our brain. Because if we are constantly feeling stressed, anxious, and over worked, our brain becomes stressed, anxious, and overworked. You might even notice when you take a holiday that your brain is so un-used to relaxing that the whirling thoughts continue even when you desperately wish to have a break.
I believe there is a correlation between yoga becoming more popular in the western world as technology continues to increase with texting, emailing and social media. We intuitively know that our mind needs to have rest.
To ‘untrain’ our brain and rest our mind we can actively train our brain to slow down. Meditation and pranayama (breathing) are two ways that we can begin to slow down and really influence our mood state for the better.
This is a good time to take a nice slow breathe in and a lovely leisurely exhale and as you do feel those shoulders soften down.
Here are two very simple practices that you might like to implement into your life.
Appreciation Exercise (a breathing exercise)
Make a list of things you appreciate – people, places, activities, and pets – choose one or two each morning to hold in your heart during the day. Choose an item again at night to hold in your heart while you rest.
After you have done your appreciation list, choose what you would like to hold in your heart for the day and begin to focus your attention on your heart area. If it feels appropriate close your eyes. Breathe a little deeper and slower than normal (check that your shoulders and face are soft). Allow yourself to enjoy the benefits of taking the time to slow down and establish a soothing breathing rhythm.
Next: Imagine breathing through your heart. Picture yourself slowly breathing in through your heart and exhaling out through your heart area. Keep the focus of your breath coming into the heart and exhaling out of the heart.
Now breathe what you have chosen to appreciate into your heart area and exhale it out and all through your body. Continue in this manner breathing in your appreciation and letting it flow through you. Take as long as you like with this.
How do you feel? Do you notice a greater sense of ease, wellbeing or relaxation?
Practice this daily for a week and notice your wellbeing.
Meditation (uplifting if feeling out of sorts)
Meditate on light at the heart center: Assume a comfortable meditation posture (you can sit or lie down), and bring your attention to the center of the chest in the region of the heart. Visualize a bright golden-white light in the heart center. Inhale and allow the light to fill the region, imagine or feel the area softening and then exhale and expand the light in all directions, illuminating every cell of your body, every corner of your mind, your entire being. Visualize the light expanding infinitely in all directions. As you notice your mind wandering, return your attention gently to the light of the heart. Continue to focus the attention on the light at the heart center for the period of your meditation.
You can do this anytime, if you are new to meditation start with one or two minutes, gradually adding on. You will always benefit from taking a short time out and recharging yourself.
“Just slow down.
Slow down your speech.
Slow down your breathing.
Slow down your walking.
Slow down your eating.
And let this slower, steadier pace perfume your mind.
Just slow down.”