I’m asking you to slow down during the holiday season. What am I…insane? Well, maybe but that isn’t the point. The point is that holiday season or not, we move too quickly through our lives.
We rush out the door. Ride other people’s bumpers on the way to work. Rush through our workouts, our chores. We throw meals down our gullet without slowing down. It’s a huge problem. And one we need to slow down to figure out.
On my yoga channel, Wild N Free Yoga (which you can check out here), for the month of November I’m doing what I call a slow flow challenge. Once a week, I’m posting a yoga flow that focuses on slowing down, moving fluidly, and abandoning the hunt to hit a pose then hit the next. Instead, by slowing down we’re finding that there aren’t boundaries and that one pose blends into the next.
It brings us a sense of mindfulness.
Yes, mindfulness. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you’ll be familiar with my obsession with being mindful of your body, your mind, and embracing the present moment. We’ll be touching on that too.
This slow flow yoga challenge I’m doing is just part of my latest revelation. It’s everything. It’s bigger than just slowing down. It’s learning how to exist again, as we are supposed to. And I will confidently say that we are supposed to exist in a state of serenity, a state of observation and existing.
I’m a runner. I bike. I like things that go fast. I train martial arts, and I like to go fast. But I’m also a writer. I love nature and I have a very gentle soul. I’ve never been a fast walker. I always notice the smallest thing, the smallest bug skittering down a hallway.
I was naturally like that as a kid, most children are. But I made the conscious decision somewhere in my teenage years to keep being like that. I didn’t want to let go of that childlike wonder. I didn’t think you had to.
And you don’t.
The key to slowing down isn’t to think about slowing down because a lot of times, we can rush and hurry and drive fast and still being calm, serene. We can still be aware of our existence.
The perfect time to practice this is late fall, winter, and early spring. Why? Because there are less things to notice so it’s a little easier to spot them in a barren landscape.
Recently, I started talking walks during the day because I wanted to get more time outside where I was relaxed and not biking or running. I don’t take very long walks but this is something you can incorporate into your daily routine that will help you slow down.
I take three different kinds of walks: look down walks, look up walks, and look straight ahead walks. They’re self-explanatory.
Let’s say you want to try a look down walk. What does that entail?
Look Down Walk
Look around you. What’s the surface of the ground look like? Is there dirt? Leaves? Do you see any pretty leaves? Any random leaves? Any diseased leaves? Stop, squat down. Look at the ground. Follow the path of a little bug. Notice the way roots are protruding from the earth. Or how there is a smushed skittle from Halloween.
Let your mind wander and as it does, take note of what it’s seeing, what it’s processing. You don’t have to be staring directly at your feet, but the point is that you are focusing on one plane and taking in as much as you can. I like to think of it giving existence to things. If I see it, then it exists.
Look Up Walk
Take note of the skeleton outline of the trees. Note their beauty, their power, their flexibility. Are there any buds? Any last little leaves? Are they wearing a dress of snow or ice? What animals are about? Do you see any flocks, any special birds? What does the sky look like? If it’s snowing or raining, look up. Note the enormity of everything from your position.
Let your mind wander. Enjoy being taken aback by your surroundings for a moment. Let nature encompass you and be comforted by knowing you are not anywhere close to being the biggest thing in this world.
Slowing down, in this article, isn’t about relaxing. It isn’t about driving slower or anything like that. It’s about learning to open your eyes to the world around you. So many of us have completely lost our wonder. Our ability to be awestruck. It takes so much and it really shouldn’t. We should feel free and able to cry at the beauty of a rainstorm. We should feel free and able to squat down and look at a small flower in a lawn full of trimmed grass.
There’s this weird stigma around doing that. It’s not “adult”. And I guess it isn’t. But it is fun. Like I said, by looking at something by seeing something, by experiencing it with my senses I am validating its existence. Sure, it’s still there if I don’t see it. But to me, being able to experience something says that that thing has impacted something else. At the same time, I get to validate my own existence. I am being impacted by something. I am experiencing something. I am using one or more of my senses to prove that I am alive.
Not enough of us do this.
Why can’t we slow down? Why can’t we just enjoy life, look out the window of a car during gridlock traffic to enjoy the sunset? Why do we have to be angry? Because it’s the adult thing to do?
Doesn’t seem like a very logical answer to me.
This is something that comes naturally to me because I’ve practiced it and it’s just my personality. But it’s something that is ultimately natural to all of us. We just need to slow down. Focus on things we’d normally ignore.
Go outside. Look around your home. Be a little bit more mindful, more present today by existing in your surroundings. You’re not existing in what you have to do tonight, tomorrow. You aren’t existing in a mistake from three years ago. You can only exist in this moment. So do that!
Exist. Taste. Smell. Hear. See. Touch.
Decide that to exist is to experience.