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Being slow is not about being lazy

When under pressure, the ability to act slowly and deliberately is a benefit.

In last week’s article in the series SLOWING DOWN we looked at the importance of leisure in our lives. To read this article click here.

Slowing down is about keeping your head when all those about you are losing theirs. Maintaining a sense of calm when others are stressed and panicking is not easy. Slow is not about being lazy.

Thinking and considering before acting takes a level of impulse control that’s missing when we become overly stressed.

Haste makes waste is a well-known saying. The wise carpenter measures twice and cuts once. Taking time to read the map instead of blindly heading off in what you guess might be the right direction makes sense.

It’s actually harder for a start to be slow. We are so use to doing things quickly. One could say, “stop being so fast and being lazy!” Being slow takes practice.

How many of us have heard our mothers tell us not to gobble our food? Children eat like animals until they are civilized. We eat and run. Is it possible that eating slowly can help you lose weight? Taking your time to chew your food releases the nutrients. It’s easy to overeat, but slowing down can help. At ACM’s National Summit in December last year our evening meal was spent together using chop sticks, a great way to be present and experience the slowness of eating.

In Australia, we talk about being full up after a meal. Food is seen as fuel. You are more likely to eat quickly if you eat alone. You are more likely to eat quickly if you are working at the same time. When we gulp down food our stomachs don’t have a chance to digest it properly, nor signal to our brains that we are satiated.

Eat slow for 10 minutes and you will start to feel a sense of being satisfied or full. Taking a break between courses or eating smaller portions and waiting, eating with others and taking time to digest what you eat is a good way to practice slowing down.

If you’ve ever tried to lift weights at the gym, you’ll know that doing it very slowly is far more demanding than doing it quickly. The idea of weight lifting is to build muscle. However, it’s common to see people rush through their routines counting repetitions, as if more is better. If they went more slowly and used less weight they would get the result they are after more quickly.

Avoid using too much adrenaline, slow down and feel the muscles working rather than creating bursts of energy.

When we slow down, we notice more. Noticing your breath is an easy slow exercise. That’s all, just notice how you are breathing. What could be easier? And, breathe through your nose not your mouth, this creates a gentleness and calmness that reinforces a slow approach to life.

And what about multi-tasking? It’s impossible not to multi-task to some extent. Our bodies are alive with electro-chemical reactions. We are constantly breathing, thinking and monitoring our internal and external environments. Yet we can choose to do fewer things in order to concentrate better.

When driving we can choose to drive safely, not to answer the phone, or listen to the radio, or talk to passengers. We can choose to just drive. Slowing down can teach us to notice more of what is going on around us.

Slowing down helps give our full-attention to what we are doing. Try walking more slowly. Pause before responding to questions. Speak more slowly. Does this feel awkward? Why?

Personal energy, attention and time are limited. By slowing down we can use these better to our advantage. Slowing down is counter-intuitive. It’s not easy to go against the grain no matter how much sense it makes.

Next week in the series SLOWING DOWN we will look at tell-tale signs of being busy.