I’ve been dabbling with the concepts of slowing down for quite a while. Whether it was my move to Goa in the last part of 2018, or efforts at learning the nuances of mindfulness. I’ve tried to look up some literature online, and oh my God, there is plenty of it to get your pulse to do quite the opposite of slowing down. Hygge, slow living, the slow movement, minimalism, simple living; oh I could spend this afternoon names dropping.
But the truth of the matter is, that haven’t we all, at some point in our life felt quite overwhelmed by it all?
Life is a series of things to do! So where do we, amidst it all, find the time or inclination to slow down. Is it another activity added to our things to do for the day? I’m no expert, I’m still exploring, and this post is about my experiments with slow living.
What is slow living?
Slow living revels in decelerating the pace of modern life. It is a lifestyle emphasizes a slower approach to everyday life. It stems from the Slow Food movement which started in the 1980s in Italy, with a protest by Carlo Petrini when Rome was under siege of fast food retail joints. The Slow food movement is about going back to traditional recipes using locally produced ingredients. That, in turn, gave birth to concepts of slow living, slow cities and slow travel.
Why slow living?
I was tired of the mindless speed that the city offered. Doing so much and doing nothing at all since I hardly had the time to assimilate anything. I didn’t have time to learn from my failures and didn’t have the energy to pat myself on the back when something good happened.
While I was never a big car, bigger car/ big house bigger house kind of girl, but I did start aspiring for other quantitative measures of success. How many views did I get on my blog post, how many Instagram likes did the last picture get, how many people commented on the forum? The blogs that tell you that they get 10k hits a day didn’t help the scenario either. Colin Wright from Exile Lifestyle resolved that so beautifully in a reply to an email. “Honestly, numbers are, unto themselves, not terribly important or useful metrics of success. Focus instead on getting better at your craft. Fixating on such things will almost certainly hinder you in developing your voice as it tends to nudge us toward sanding down our rough edges, when in reality, we should be sharpening some of them: becoming more ourselves, not less”.
Thus this vortex of missing out (FOMO ) and not doing enough/ being enough was pushing me close to an anxiety problem. Having reached that point, I realized that I need to make a conscious change, for my overall well being. This race to nowhere would lead me to exactly there, nowhere. That’s when I started thinking about slowing down the pace of everyday life.
Ways to begin a slow lifestyle
Some baby steps that helped me get started on slow living
A Morning routine:
My morning route is quite sacred to me nowadays. I have designed a regimen to be done daily that gives me a jumpstart to my day. No matter what the day ahead holds, I stick to my morning routine. It could be anything for you- a morning run, reading the newspaper, watering your plans or hitting the gym. A routine to start the day sets the tone for the rest of the day despite the tsunami of responsibilities that we juggle.
Mono task / NOT multi-task:
Doing one thing at a time was advice that my mother gave a decade ago. And I chose to not listen to it and like most things this one came back to bite me. While walking Doe when my head is already in the kitchen peering into the fridge deciding the menu for dinner, I consciously have requested it to stop. “One thing at a time” I remember my mother saying.
“Nature does not hurry and yet everything is accomplished” This saying by Lao Tzu rings even truer if you have plant babies of your own, to water, to grow, to watch them wilt, despite the sun and eventually watch them bloom. This process has proven to be very therapeutic for me and I love this late addition to my list of hobbies. I’m a new plant parent I must admit, but these babies do give you a fresh perspective to things, pun intended.
Learning to say NO
Weekends are super hectic with plans being made with friends, creative projects, grocery shopping for the week etc. I have learnt to use the magic word “ No”. I have made it a habit of prioritizing things and don’t keep decisions for the last moment. You will no longer hear “I will let you know” from me. I try to say yes or no and save myself that anxiety and save the other time. Friends, your real friends, will always understand.
I had to discipline myself into cultivating this habit because gratitude somehow didn’t come naturally to me. Even on my gloomiest days, these notes of gratitude have helped me feel better.
Some of my greatest ideas have come to me on days or moments when I have been bored. I remember too many summer holidays spent during a power cut with nothing to do that I have stumbled upon a “secret project” to do with my brother or a story to write to show my father. We hardly give enough credit to the art of being bored.
I lived 6 months in Goa with my partner and Doenut out of 4 suitcases. When we came back to the city, all those things that seemed so dear to us (read Me) like my favourite sheets, curtains, those souvenirs, didn’t seem so important anymore. It was just “stuff”. I realized we needed so little to live and live happily. So when we moved to the Bombay apartment, we got rid of quite a lot. Chunky furniture, any clothes that I didn’t wear in the last few months and anything in the house that was not likely to be used, was shown the door. We live light, we live free and it feels great. To top it off my friends keep telling me that my house looks super clean.
Benefits of slow living
Finding joy in the little things
Joy is such a beautiful word and slowing down makes you more aware of those little things. Thank you notes, that smile you exchanged with your auto driver, that birthday cake, that phone call to a friend who lives far away. God is in the details they say.
With the effort of slowing down, I have started prioritizing things and being mindful of where I spend my energy. That helps me live a far more purposeful life. Having come to terms with my goals, I know what I see myself doing for the next few years. I invest my weekends in this, I talk (Read bore) to my friends about it, I meet people from communities who also share the same interest. I just feel full. That’s a good feeling to go to sleep with.
Learning new skills
Being more purposeful gives me the clarity of what I want to do and I learn new skills that way. Whether through online classes, classroom sessions or mentors, the whole world opens up.
Ever since I started focusing on quality over quantity, I see my relationships with my friends and family grow deeper. I have more time for them, more mind space and to feel surrounded by people I love is just a wonderful feeling.
We are all WIP. I declared at the beginning of the blog that I’m learning/trying/ failing/doing better on most days. I hope this blog helped you on your journey a little bit. There are some terrific blogs out there about slow and mindful living. If this blog resonated with you, here are some to help you indulge a little more in a slower, more meaningful life.