Slow Down Button from Etsy
I move way too fast.
From the simple (walking, cooking, cleaning) to the more complex (writing, reading, making a decision), I’ve struggled with stillness my entire life. And it’s a struggle that I’ve accepted as normalcy. Rather than focus on the action to change my habits, I’ve become complacent in behaving like a high-strung Energizer Bunny with a fire under its bunny tail.
I was inspired to write this post because of a conversation I had with my roommate earlier today, who pointed out that I move too fast and because of this, am not mindful of the messes I make in the apartment.
I’ve been working from the confines of my small Manhattan apartment for nearly six months. I prepare all my meals at home, taking time to focus on healthy, nutritious foods prepared with the stove top or oven and not consumed via a package or heated up in the microwave.
Preparing three meals daily means I have to clean up after myself three times daily. But admittedly I don’t clean up everything, and the cycle of moving quickly from “meal to work” and “work to meal” means I don’t allow for the stillness to create mindfulness that “Oh yeah, I spilled here” or “I should probably clean these dishes now rather than wait until 10PM rolls around.”
Slow Down Poster from Etsy
We’ve all neglected household responsibilities and I don’t want it to seem like I’m being overly hard on myself. My roommate simply pointed out to “clean as I go” in the kitchen, because in my focus on multi-tasking my life, I forget to see the details (crumbs on the floor, spills on the counter, overflowing trash) and without realizing it, create an uncomfortable living situation for him. Which, to his point, having a dirty kitchen isn’t a comfortable living situation for me, either.
Mindfulness of the moment and the action it calls for is a weakness we all experience.
Multi-tasking doesn’t need to be doing two things at once, but doing one thing and thinking another, which creates blockage for fully carrying out the task at hand. In other words, when I’m pouring coffee into my cup while thinking of someone I have to call, the chance that pour might spill are higher than if I focused my attention on the coffee alone. Which is exactly what didn’t happen to me this morning, when I poured coffee onto the floor instead of into my cup. Woops!
There’s a duality to everything. My Energizer Bunny qualities have helped me accomplish tasks in half the time it’d take the average person. But was the quality of the result more superior than if I had worked more slowly? I don’t know. Here’s where the duality lies, as there’s always a positive and a negative side to everything.
As for me, I’ve decided speed is my normalcy. But is that lifestyle really what’s best for me?
Slow Down Everyone, You’re Moving Too Fast Sign on Etsy
Which brings us to the benefits of exploring the vintage life. To help me undo my habits of moving quickly, I’m can turn to the past for inspiration; to the days when we didn’t have Facebook, iPhones and RSS feeds influencing our physical moves to catch up – and keep impossible stride – with the speed of modern technology.
I may be a 27-year-old living in a 21st century world, but I don’t need to move as fast as my Twitter feed. I can pour my coffee like it’s 1981, leave my iPhone at home like its 1965, and if it were the ’40s, maybe I’d pre-prepare a weeks’ worth of food on Sunday so that I need not messy up the kitchen everyday. Heck, maybe I should start canning food!
My goal this week is to slow down, vintage style. Here are some of my planned exercises – go ahead and join me if you’re inspired.
You Might Want to Slow Down Plate from Etsy
Practice #1: Focus solely on the task at hand. Consciously guide my physical movements so that they’re the only thing that matters in the moment. Redirect my thoughts back to whatever it is that lies before me.
Practice #2: Slow down my movements. Recognize when I open the fridge, pour coffee or cut vegetables at unnecessary speeds and gently put on the brakes.
Practice #3: Breathe more. I’m no Yogi, but I know that breathing is the key to inner calmness. We can only give our full attention on something when we are calm – so breathe more I shall.
Practice #4: Finish one activity before starting another. Our results improve when we focus attention on one step at a time. I get distracted while working by other work! During this post, I stopped writing to edit photos. Then I started writing again, and stopped to italicize words! I should have finished writing, then edited photos and then italicized. But I chose to do all three … at once.
Practice #5: Listen to the thoughts in my head. And I don’t mean listen like, sit around and have a conversation with yourself. Listen to the thoughts and decide, “Do I really want to hear this right now, or can I do away with this un-related chatter?” We often don’t realize when we’re thinking and doing at the same time. Recognize the behavior to stop it and with time and practice, we can prevent the unnecessary chatter from happening in the first place.
What are your suggestions to help me slow down?
Editor’s Note: While writing this post, I took a break to cut a pepper in the kitchen. My pepper cutting was still as fast as Speedy Gonzales, but I did manage to gently lift the peppers from the cutting board to the plate rather than hurriedly brush them over, which would have caused seeds to spill onto the floor (and which I probably would have neglected to pick up).
I realized I was walking back to my room necessarily fast and shortened my stride while breathing deep, embracing slowness rather than resisting it. And embrace I shall do, one slow step at a time.