I’m writing this, and I don’t even fully know how to tell you to slow down because the very deepest truth is, I’m learning how to do this myself.
Slowing down does not come easily to me at all. I like movement. I like commotion. I like getting caught up in the shuffle. It’s exciting and invigorating. Even as frustrating as commotion can be, it’s a little electrifying and fun. And that’s okay. We all need fun. Fun connects us to playfulness, and The God Of Baby Kittens knows we need a little more of that in our lives.
But it’s also distracting.
When my body and mind are too busy, (which I slip into way too easily this time of year), I miss the gorgeously good stuff. Like my son’s new and assured way of running that appeared overnight, or my baby daughter’s eyelashes that tripled in length when I blinked, or my husband’s graceful way of holding both kids in his arms with calm confidence.
One of my very wise Ayurveda teachers told me she had a serious problem slowing down when she was a girl. At one point, it was so bad that she was almost expelled from school because she couldn’t stay focused on any task that required repetition. Her father decided to help her find a way to connect to methodical tasks that required her full attention. Her family ate rice at every dinner, and he gave her the job of washing the rice. She hated it. She had to stand still, be patient, sift the rice through the water.
Fill, sift, wash, dump, repeat, until the water ran clear.
She couldn’t leave her task in the middle of it and do something else. When she took shortcuts, dinner was ruined and her family got angry. Doing this simple task brought her pride when done well, and the important life skill of learning how to slow down. Later, when she went to medical school, she told us how the simple act of washing rice, submerging her hands in water, doing this methodical task, would bring her back from her frazzled, over-stimulated state of being in a matter of 10 minutes. It carried her through her partner’s health crisis later, and her son’s teen years. It even helped her build a thriving medical practice.
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She told me this as I sifted my own rice to make a slow-cooked curry dish. As I stood there, listening to her story, I let the water run into my bowl, and I felt each grain of rice, each gentle rush of water, and found my brain slowing down. She kept talking, and I kept listening (kind of) but I was lost in the simple act of doing something slowly, consciously, and enjoying it. I was shocked how much I allowed myself to find meaningful connection in a mundane task.
Here are a handful of places to start slowing down:
Watch your children.
And I mean WATCH them. See how they move, find joy in their play.
Touch your partner with intention.
A hand on the back or a thumb swiped gently across a wrist. Reach out with warmth and connection.
Write a note to your parents.
Express gratitude for something positive they did that shaped you. And if you don’t have those kind of parents, send one to someone who helped bridge that gap. A phone call would work, too.
Yep, washing dishes engages both hands in concerted movement, which means both sides of your brain are working together. This is excellent for your mental acuity, and you have the added bonus of a clean kitchen when you’re finished.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, simple is better. But there is something so satisfying about crafting a tasty meal from just a few ingredients and SITTING DOWN to eat it. Yep, that’s part of the deal. Sit down to eat.
So, can we all slow down just a little?
Find our awareness through small, everyday acts of service to those we love. Hell, you don’t even have to do anything more than what you’re doing now, just do them differently. Do them with intention. Do them with loving connectedness. Micromoments, a breath, a beat, whatever. Just don’t forget to take time to take in your life.