How to Slow Down
'There is more to life than increasing its speed.' - Gandhi
Technological inventions are continually saving you time: your car gets you there quicker than walking, the microwave cooker heats up your food in seconds, Internet shopping saves you going to the shops, Internet banking saves you time from actually going to the bank and so on.
What do you do with all that time spared? Like many of us, you probably use it to fit more things into your day, and so your life is more hurried and hectic than ever.
But doing too much is not an effective way to work or live. Moving quickly may make you less effective in completing a task and can be stressful. Slowing down is a calmer and more peaceful way to approach your work.
Take time to do what you're doing instead of constantly looking for ways to save time so that you can fit more in. If you fill you day with things to do, you will always be trying to get ahead of yourself, and that's not mindful.
Instead of trying to cram too much into every day, move at a slower, more relaxed pace and get the most out of what you're doing now.
Slowing down is not always easy. Perhaps you tell yourself you just can't, your job won't allow it or you'll let people down if you don't keep up with all your commitments.
Slowing down takes practice, but it helps you focus on what you are doing and what is happening.
Do less. Prioritize: work out what's important, what really needs to be done. Do one thing at a time and let go of what's not important.
Do it in slow motion. Whatever you're doing at the moment, slow it down by 25 per cent, whether it's typing on a keyboard, surfing the Internet, making a cup of tea or cleaning the house. Take your time. If you do less, you can do those things more slowly, more completely and with more concentration. Take your time, and move slowly. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed and random.
Breathe. When you find yourself speeding up, pause and take a deep breath. Then take a couple more.
Give yourself more time. If you're constantly rushing to appointments or other places you have to be, it's simply because you don't allot enough time. If you think it only takes 30 minutes to get somewhere, perhaps give yourself 45 minutes so you can go at a leisurely pace and not get stressed if delays occur on the way.
Make some space. Don't plan things close together. Instead, leave room between activities and tasks. That makes your day more flexible, and leaves space in case one thing takes longer than you planned.
Reduce your commitments. Stop over-committing yourself at work, with friends, family, hobbies and interests. Learn how to say no. Choose a few essential commitments, and realise that the rest, while nice or important, just don't fit right now.
This is an extract from Gill Hasson's Mindfulness Pocketbook