Slow everything...

A SPIRITED SOUL - Jeannie E. Javelosa (The Philippine Star) - June 30, 2013 - 12:00am

I have slowed down. Well, life literally forced me to slow down through asthma, which I realized I can’t cure but need to learn to live with. So I have been engaging in the nature and power of slowness and have decided to make it part of my life.

My friends who know me won’t believe me, but for the speed I am used to, I have pretty much slowed down. It started when I was working on my 2013 diary and I realized that the year hadn’t formally started and yet my pages were already quite full with endless meetings and appointments both here and abroad. Going full speed ahead is a thing of the past for me. I firmly believe that slowing down helps beat stress, improves relationships, boosts energy levels, raises the bank account (because one shouldn’t have the need to buy everything cute, eat everything delicious and travel to every exciting place written about) and enhances life in general. After all, the cult of speed obviously isn’t working. It makes us sicker and greedier as it catches us in the merry-go-round of having to work crazy hours to buy the pleasures of travel, fashion and cuisine.

Let us all just slow down.

Eating slow.  In the practical sense, we shouldn’t gobble and gulp down our food anyway. It’s been said that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to send signals to the brain to proclaim that it has had enough. If you eat slower, the chances of overeating are less. Also, eating will be a true pleasure when you take time out to enjoy it. Recently, every time I put a morsel into my mouth, I think of how the food was planted, where it came from and how it was prepared. With the rise in the number of chefs in the city, it truly is a joy to savor and enjoy food. Remember those times when you personally prepared food for your family or friends, whether or not there was a special occasion? Or laid out some flowers at the dining table? When people who are important to you come together, that is a very special time to sit down, talk to each other and appreciate the food. That is food for the soul.

Talking slow. Let us ask ourselves, how much value do we place in an act or a moment? When I sit down with my partner, my parent, my sibling, my friend, how much of myself can I give? Sitting with your daughter as she tells you about her day while surreptitiously checking your BlackBerry does not a connection make. Try having a conversation. Take note that conversing is different from talking, where the latter involves giving updates, instructions and is nothing more than a quick exchange. Having a conversation is like meandering along a summer street and bits and pieces, odds and ends about life are shared, topics merge, digress then find themselves again and for that moment of catching up, a connection is shared. The catch is, you have to make the time and space for it in your life.

Going slow is like putting in a new computer chip, uploading a new program inside, without needing to hide away in the mountains. It is about arriving into the moment of each life, totally embracing the moment. You don’t need to make huge changes, but just re-adjust through small changes. Put on the brake. Do less.

Slow vacations. When people think of slowing down, they think of taking a vacation. But those vacations are usually as stressful as a week in the office where days are spent checking tourist landmarks and mall-hopping for the latest foreign fashion craze. You have to find moments when you can get off the grid and slam on the brakes. Read a book, lie under the sun, do some cooking, practice yoga or take a walk. Choose carefully the people and events and things you want to be involved with. You will feel energized, more aware and more engaged in the present as you never were before. Allow yourself to rediscover who you are and where you want to go. You might even find some peace.

Slow parenting. When you are aware of slowing yourself down, the next step is slowing your family down. A family’s schedule mimics a demanding business where deadlines and to-do lists are the norm. Pressure is so intense on children today, to get the best grades, to be the best at guitar, piano, soccer, swimming… the list is endless. Teach your kids that it is important to do things the best way and not necessarily the fastest way. Kids have to have enough time and energy to explore the world as well as bond with the family because in the end, those are the ones that count. Reinstate time in a different manner where we control time and not the other way around. Unlearn the habits of gluing your hand to a laptop, iPad or a mobile phone. You do not need to be connected to the world 24/7. But stay connected to those who matter. Technology is around to make our lives richer and better, for us to get more from our modern society. Allow it to do its job.

Slow living doesn’t require any fancy or hi-tech equipment. It just means keeping schedules under control so that there is more time for yourself and for your family to be together. Impromptu or planned, when families and friends stop and share the wonders of the world, a deep breath by a beach, a baby squealing with delight, a heartfelt hug with a loved one, these produce a priceless closeness that leads to finding more enjoyment and fulfillment in life.


(Follow the writer on twitter @jeanniejavelosa.)

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