Hurry Up and Slow Down

 
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Time.  There’s never enough of it.  So we try to rush through the day’s never-ending to-do lists.  We get hooked on the rush of adrenaline. And we look up to the Type A’s in our society as the ones who “succeed”. 

But the more we rush, or try to accomplish in a day, the more susceptible we are to making mistakes.  And mistakes can be costly.  I ought to know.  Six weeks ago I was “rushing” to get to a friend’s for lunch.  Yet I thought I could get “one more thing done” before heading out.  I was fixing a flat tire on a wheelbarrow and going too fast.  I wasn’t paying close attention to what I was doing.  I ended up injuring my right thumb so severely that I had to have surgery to repair a torn ligament.

Woah.  I had to really face how far I had strayed from practicing what I preached. And to recognize the impact not only on my ability to function, but my colleagues who now had to sub my classes, and my husband who now had to do ALL the spring chores indoors and out. 

Life can be the best teacher of all.  Here’s what I’ve learned (and re-learned):

1.       Remember To Slow Down:  Sometimes we get so caught up in the whirlwind of our crazy lives we literally forget to slow down.  The first step is noticing when you are rushing.  Perhaps there are clues – feeling wired, chaotic thoughts, heart racing, fidgeting. Be friendly and curious about what you notice.

2.       Give Yourself More Time: Most of us are pretty deluded about how long it will take for us to complete a task.  Try doubling it and if you don’t have the time, cross something else off the list.

3.       Slow Down: I have become aware of how fast I walk.  Today, I walked across the grocery parking lot much more slowly, feeling my feet, sensing the temperature, looking around at the people and cars.  I was actually “present” in my body rather than lost in my head.  It felt wonderful!

4.       Activate The Relaxation Response:  There are many ways to do this and experimentation will help you to choose which way works best for you.  One way is to take 3…slow….deep…breaths and simply notice… what you are thinking, what emotions are present, and what sensations you are feeling in your body.  Then congratulate yourself for taking a pause and notice how you feel.

5.       Give Your Full Attention To The Task: I always know I’m rushing when I’m not paying attention.  My husband, bless his heart, patiently closes the cupboard doors and turns off lights behind me. Another opportunity to recognize when I’m going too fast. 

6.       Mindful Listening: Deliberately pausing and being genuinely interested in listening to another person radically shifts the dynamic of the conversation in positive ways. After all, how many of us ever feel really listened to?  And I’ve also noticed that dogs come to me like “bees to honey” when I slow down and give them kind, gentle and loving attention.

Jill Dunkley is a yoga therapist and mindfulness teacher who lives in Lanark County and is continually reminding herself to stop and smell the roses.  For more information click on Jill’s therapeutic yoga classes/privates or mindfulness courses.