Slowing Down in a Fast-Paced World

People are operating like machines, placing value on their daily production and going haywire when missing a step. Even more unsettling is the fact that busy is the new black. If you’re not perceived as having too much on your plate, running from one meeting to the next, or working on multiple projects, society seems to question your drive and ability to keep up. Even complaining about being busy has become the auto-response to “how are you?” Technology is at the forefront of this fast-paced revolution. With the speed of information-collection comes the fragmentation of thought. With the power of being multiple places at once comes the fragmentation of feeling. Having technology at our fingertips has forced the fast-forward button down and turned the volume of clutter up.

“When you fail to live at the speed of life, you live at the speed of light.” For anyone wondering, that’s not a healthy pace at all. When we constantly speed through our days, we lose sight of what is around us, what is ahead, and sometimes even forget what has been pushing us forward all along.

Poet Mark Nepo sums it up best when he says, “It’s not about never speeding up again, but rather, being able to come back to a place of return. It’s about developing your own practice of return.” The good news is that developing your practice of return is free, beneficial to your well-being, and easy to find. Yoga and meditation have tried and true benefits, creating practices that center on breathing and making the mind less full – a luxury in today’s world. For the average busy bee, however, having to spend more time on a daily practice of rest and rejuvenation is the last thing on their mind. There are other easy options of rest that can boost energy and save time in the long run. It’s all about re-prioritizing the list of to-dos and making number one a chance to collect yourself.

Try spending 1-2 minutes sitting at your desk at work or in your dorm room before starting anything, to simply settle down. Step outside for some fresh air and in the stillness remind yourself that your mind and body deserve a break. Let yourself pause. Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times that “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets.” It is as important as ever in this time and age to not only understand the need to slow down, but understand how helpful it can be. Just as memory is consolidated by sleep, our actions are affected by rest.

Time spent resting, gathering your thoughts, or even clearing your thoughts should be part of the modern day routine. When something unexpected happens, rest. When something hurtful happens, rest. When you are overwhelmed, rest. Even for a moment. Taking a break is not a sign of giving in to pressure, it’s a natural and restorative reaction to life.

Image: Life of Pix