Slow living is essentially about letting go of the need to be busy, to be always moving onto the next task, to trying to do and have everything, and instead being purposeful in what you do, paying attention to what’s happening now and experiencing life as it is. Here are a few suggestions as to how the idea of slow living can be put into practice every day.
Loosen your grip on your digital devices by taking steps to spend less time on screen. Leave your phone at home when you go for a walk, have a digital device curfew, or collect social media apps into a folder on your last home screen to make scrolling through the apps less automatic.
If food shopping and preparation is a source of stress, reconnect with food you eat by growing some yourself, even just one ingredient. With minimal space and time you can grow salad leaves, herbs or tomatoes. If preparing meals from scratch feels too daunting try one dish for starters.
Having a home full of stuff can create an oppressive air and literally slow you down as it takes longer to wade through drawers, shelves and cupboards to find what you’re looking for. Take one room or item type at a time and have a clear-out. Whatever doesn’t have a use or you don’t love can go to charity, to be recycled, into the bin or sold.
Trying to get where you need to be as quickly as possible can mean you’re missing out on hidden treasures in unexplored routes. Leave the car at home and take a walk, ride a bike or travel on public transport to get to your destination, where practical. Make the extra journey time part of the experience and look for what you might have been missing from your car seat.
Find satisfaction in a creative pursuit, such as drawing, paper cutting, origami, crocheting, model building or simply reading a book, that asks you to slow down and take your time. Take a stroll through the local park or bushland and notice the colours of the flowers, the insects living around them, the different species of trees, the sun (or rain) coming through the canopy, the sound of birdsong and the smell of nature.
Clear a weekend of plans and do what takes your fancy when you wake up. Check the weather forecast, see how you feel and consider what you don’t usually get to do because you’ve already made plans. Resist any urge to fill the time with chores and instead think about what you could do just for the joy of it. Perhaps that’s taking a picnic to the local park, playing a board game, watching a classic movie, baking a cake or exploring an unknown area of your neighbourhood.
Create times in the day and week when you connect with each other as a family. Eat dinner together at the table, greet and leave each other in person with hugs rather than yelling hellos and goodbyes, or take part in a family activity or sport.
Gather together a handful of friends to share a meal and a few relaxed hours. Keep the food simple, perhaps suggest everyone brings a potluck dish, and don’t stress about how pristine your home is. The focus is on spending time talking to people you care about and enjoying being with rather than where you are, how much the wine costs or the complexity of the menu.
Consider how you can best make use of taking time away from everyday life to recharge. The urge can be to include as many experiences as possible and while this may be enjoyable you may return home feeling the need for a rest to get over the holiday. Schedule time to sit and people watch, to reflect on where you visited or what you did each day, or just stay in one place and take a slower mode of transport.
Even in the middle of a hectic day you can take a slow living moment. Focus your attention on your breath and where you feel it most clearly – in your abdomen, chest, nose – for a few breaths. Then scan your body from your feet to your head noticing how it feels without judging or changing it. Move your attention slowly to take in what you can hear, what you can smell and what you can see. Come back to your breath for a few seconds more and then carry on with your day. Know that any time you feel the need, you can bring your attention back to your breath for a few moments of calm.
This article was originally published in Issue 8 – Embrace Change