Creating your “slow practice”

How do we truly begin to slow down?

Photo by Patti Black on Unsplash

This article is cross-posted from my weekly newsletter, The Sunday Soother, a newsletter about clarity, intention, and useful tips for creating more meaning in your life that goes out every Sunday morning. Subscribe here. I am also a coach who works with sensitive people so they can stop second-guessing, make decisions confidently and live the life they’ve always dreamed of. You can learn more about working with me here.

Hello everybody! I’m glad to be back in your inboxes after a mini spring break hiatus. The act of trusting myself to take time off when I need to has been a transformative one for me, and one long in the making.

I’ve continued to be thinking a lot about trust, and its relation to slowness (as you know if you’ve been reading the last few Soothers these topics have been forefront on my mind) and how I can bring the trust and slowness I intellectually yearn for in my mind to actually be embodied in my behaviors, actions and choices in the real world.

I think the discussion of slowness and trust is going to be paramount as we shift back into whatever the world may look like as more and more people get vaccinated and we return to a semblance of the operating world we had before. (If all goes well, by the time you are reading this I will be getting my first vaccine shot!)

Many of us are ready to go back to things like hugs, parties, concerts, socialization, and many of us may also be loathe to leave behind some elements of the past year, too. Those of us who have been forced to move more slowly due to quarantine and lockdowns may be nervous at the thought of moving back to a hustling pace of action.

I wrote this in my Sunday Soother slack (FYI some of you have expressed interest, it is a space for those who have done 1:1 coaching with me or signed up for small group programs in 2021, it is a nice lifetime bonus of choosing to work with me in those capacities):

i think a lot about the unique mix of hypervigilance and concern for the wellbeing of others that sensitive women often have that can make this next transition difficult for us. our bodies can be like “but wait it’s not safe yet, must maintain control!” and our hearts can see that stuff is still so unequal, or people are racing back to norms that never served us and that can be so frustrating. then all the stuff being up in the air — what’s allowed, what’s not, when are timelines, when is stuff happening — adds to some of the confusion. it’s a lot! sending a lot of love around it.

In response, a fellow Soother Slacker wrote the following, which I thought was beautiful: I have also been sitting with the idea that our bodies’ logic moves at a slower pace than our thought logic. The disconnect between our revised narratives on what’s okay now and how our bodies need time to catch up.

For me, these days, when I want to make sustained and embodied change in my life and behaviors, I’m learning to start not with the intellectual mind, but with the body.

Something I’ve been trying as I adjust to the changes coming up in society, and continued presence around my nervous system and hypervigilance, is cultivating a “slow practice.”

For me, this looks like really slow, soft, yoga for a bit, coupled with lots of childs pose and legs up the wall sprinkled in. Then slow, conscious breathing and perhaps lying in shavasana for 10 minutes or longer, with a warm blanket over me and a bolster under my legs.

Other ways I’ve been playing around with a slow practice, using my body:
-Doing the most mundane tasks and chores as slowly as possible, on purpose (ie folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher)
-Sitting with silences on my calls or in other interactions, before rushing to say something just to fill the space
-Dancing really slowly to, you guessed it, slow music
-Noticing when I’m walking fast to get somewhere and consciously slowing down almost to a pace I might feel like I’m underwater
-Eating a meal as slowly as possible

Also, in your “slow practice,” observe all the areas in your life where you go quite quickly, especially when it involves your body. Do you eat or drink fast? Walk fast? Flick from tab to tab on your laptop? Get incredibly impatient when a Jeopardy! contestant takes all of two whole seconds to answer a clue (I had this experience the other day, lol).

And can you, also as part of the practice, identify where you, whether it’s consciously or unconsciously, have deemed quicker as good or “better” than being slow? Can you question that assumption?

As we transition back into this next iteration of the world, I encourage you to think about what a “slow practice” could look like for you. Maybe it’s something as simple as a gentle yoga practice, or as mundane as taking 20 minutes to brew a cup of coffee.

When we’re trying to make change, to hold on to something, to truly embody it, I believe now that we can never start with our mind. A lifetime of going quickly lives in spaces other than the intellectual, and its opposite must be practiced in those other spaces as well.

Instead, let the body lead; the mind will follow.

Teaching awakening + healing through vulnerability + self-compassion. Finding hope in a messy world. Author of the Sunday Soother.

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