This Week Of Living Slowly

I’m really enjoying the idea of living slow – this last week I have had plenty to do but because I have had the 59th Street Bridge Song by Simon and Garfunkel running almost constantly through my head (and now it is on high rotation in my car because I found the cd that song is on!) I have been moving through my week with a different attitude, made a few decisions and tried a few different skills.

During our last Sacred Essence Circle we talked about the idea of our lives overtaking us – our actions overwhelming our emotions and draining our energy. This is exactly how I’ve been feeling … and it’s clear from the reactions I have had to my previous post that I am not the only one who has been feeling a little out of control.

I will try to talk a bit more about our discussion about the lemniscate over at our Sacred Essence blog – and how it relates to the way we recognize and create our own sense of balance and equanimity in our lives … but for now I will say that since this discussion at our Circle I have been able to better practice mindfulness in my daily living – and although my week did not ‘slow down’ at all in terms of what I needed to achieve, the way I moved through my week did. I feel tired in a satisfied way rather than an exhausted way.

Here is what I tried to do:

DRIVING – Can’t avoid it, have to accept it, might as well enjoy it. Unfortunately it is a necessary part of living where I live. So drive time is a time to relax. I am lucky that I can choose a route that avoids the busy roads and traffic lights. I can drive past farms, bushland, rivers and cows. I choose this route frequently. Drive time is a lovely time to share stories with my children (the little ones go with me everywhere!) and to share songs and our favourite music. If I don’t feel like telling a story, or if I need to concentrate on a busy road then I play one that I have recorded on my phone from the previous evening’s storytime (just sit with your phone on lap and record while you read!). I watch other drivers go past in a hurry and I look at their knotted eyebrows and grimacing faces and it reminds me to relax my face and smile. Enjoy the journey, don’t rush.

I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE – You recognize it, don’t you, when you are in a situation that you don’t like? There is a little voice in the back of your consciousness that whispers to you – “don’t go there, make a different choice!” Most of our days we relive the same experiences over again – in our rhythms and routines and relationships. We often make the same choices over and over again even though they do not serve us. I’ve been listening to my little self-speaker this week and when she  helps me remember that the last time I was in this situation I made a choice that ended badly then I listened. It is so powerful to be able to stop, breathe, and think before you speak or act. Ok – well I’ll be honest and say there were a few times I didn’t listen. There were times I deliberately chose to ignore my sweet-talking self speaker (I’ll show you where to put your conscience!) and of course those situations ended horribly and I had to brood about it for a while, then go and apologise/forgive/rethink/redo … it just makes more work for me when I ignore it, and then I get stuck in a cycle of negative reactions. So after all, that lets say I was aware of this ‘recognition’ and mostly responded positively, and that is a great beginning 🙂

MOVE SLOWLY – actually walk slower. Talk slower. Take time to breathe and chew and look and listen. Just doing this seems to stretch time even though initially it may feel like you are wasting it. What’s the rush – does it really make a difference to be in a hurry? Moving slower allows you more time to consider what you need to do and make a plan for how things can unfold for you. Somehow it seems to work for me, when I remember to do it. Habits are hard to change, but new skills and new attitudes can help us change our habits.

Well that is a pretty good start – my week also ended in a MAJOR declutter. Oh. My. Goodness. What a difference it makes to EVERYTHING when you clear out the crap. Our home is a representation of our body, and we in our homes are a representation of our souls in our bodies. While attending many Anthroposophical conferences in past we would sometimes ask each other “How are you in your home?” Well .. I will tell you more about that it the next post. Let’s say I found Buddha again. I have found my heart-space, I can breathe and move and stretch and think clearly (because I can find what I am looking for!).

So I think this month I am going to dedicate to living slowly –  I’d love to hear about your experiences living slowly too.


Living slowly and feeling groovy …

I’m being very conscious of slowing down my life at the moment. There are a lot of things in my life that dictate how busy my day is – many of these are choices, and some are things I have to put up with until a new choice can be acted on … just at the moment it has become a little overwhelming.

I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland and part of living here means that you have to accept that you will be driving almost everywhere you need to go, and anywhere you need to go is between 20 – 45 minutes away. You have to actually double that time for your return trip. Some days, between the school runs and a few odd jobs in town I can spend up to four or five hours in transit, with my little girls in the back of the car with me.

Then there’s the things that you have to sort out – the stuff that goes on your “list of things to do today” as urgent, but often get carried over to the next day or the next week, despite their urgency because they simply cannot be attended to today (because I’ve spent four hours in the car!)

Then of course there are meals to be planned, shopped for, made, eaten, washed up. There are bathrooms to be cleaned, sheets to be changed, floors to be swept and mopped (after you have put away the general household debris that is strewn about) and laundry to be found, washed, hung out, folded and put away.

And then there is my work – which is varied – and the things that I want to do so that I feel fulfilled.

And children and my husband who need more nourishment than food provides – love and cuddles and sanity from someone who can be present to their needs because their days have become as busy as mine.

I re-read this and it makes me sound like I do everything around here – I don’t. My husband and kids pull their weight. But I do a lot of it merely because I am the one who is here to do it. I don’t resent the things that must be done in my life, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have a lot to do.

The problem isn’t that I am busy. I like being busy. I have many projects on the go that I know will not be finished in my life time (but it is about the process, isn’t it‽) I will always be a busy person. My problem is when my days appear to be mapped out for me before I even leave my bed – in fact often my days are mapped out the night before as I lie in bed making my list for the next day. I feel chained to THE LIST and chained to car.

When I wrote to my friend about my spinning mind and the feeling that my life is living me and not the other way round, she wrote back with some of the lyrics to one of my favourite songs: The 59th Street Bridge Song by Simon and Garfunkel. And so this has become my anthem when I feel busy – it cheers me up and makes me giggle. It helps me remember that I have a choice to move fast or to make things last …. like Dunbar from Catch 22 who spent his time serving in the 2nd World War finding ways to stretch time so that he could  live longer, or at least have the illusion of living longer (which I think is the same thing) So it is time to slow down, to remember that like my craft projects, my life is a process for something that will never be completed because it keeps evolving into something new!  Living slowly allows you the time to enjoy the process.

Time to ask  – am I enjoying this moment? What is important here? Does this need to be on the list? How can I arrange my time more efficiently or solve this problem differently?  How do I support my needs here? Do feel rushed or do I feel groovy?

I prefer to feel groovy 🙂 I just have to take the time to live it. I can’t feel groovy when I am rushing about like a headless chook. I can feel groovy when I breathe deep and walk slower and enjoy the moment.

The Serenity Prayer also comes to mind. Here is the full version – when I read it to myself I understand the reference to God as the divinity and the sovereignty within me – my own sense of power and peace, my intuition, my strength, my wisdom and life experience – all that makes me aware that magic things happen when I live with conviction about what is right for me.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;

Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

And here’s The 59th Street Bridge Song, performed by two guys who know how to feel groovy.