A Short Guide To Slowing Down
There are moments when I am putting my daughter's hair in a ponytail, or making dinner with my husband, or taking my first deep breath of the day on my yoga mat, that I feel a rush of joy for being here, present, as a mother, wife, woman.
We can live in the relentless rush of our bottomless to-do list, or we can live in the pulsating rush of presence-- that alive feeling that comes with awareness of breath, awareness of heart-beats, awareness of sensation wrapped in gratitude.
I've learned in order to appreciate the gift of presence I have to make a practice of slowing down.
Slowing down allows us to ride the wave of every moment, a wave that carries back again and again to the shores of joy.
This is a short guide to slowing down so you, too, can witness and experience more joy no matter how crazy your day.
#1: Wake Up
How do we wake-up? Blink open your eyes and take a deep breath. We breathe an average of 23,000 times a day. That's 23,000 thousands opportunities to wake-up and come back into the room. When we feel ourselves breathing we know we are present. Mindfulness on the breath is the quickest, most effective way to slow down. Use a guided meditation like the ones I created for you in the Breathe with Love Collection if you want help connecting to your breath and feeling sweetly present for your life.
#2: Practice the Art of Paying Loving Attention
All love begins in the act of paying attention. Slowing down is a love practice. We don't slow down by force. It's not helpful to judge yourself or shame yourself into slowing down. Just begin by paying loving, curious attention to what is going in you right now. The state of mind we enter into when we practice self-compassion is a state of mind of ease and flow. It naturally slows us down. No barking required.
#3: Feel the ground
Our physical senses guide us back into presence. "The body is a gateway to now." Eckhart Toelle If we struggle with slowing down and feeling present it is often because we struggle with being/feeling embodied. Noticing the feel of the ground beneath our feet or the feel of the chair beneath our bum reminds our brain that we have a body. When we sense our bodies we naturally slow down. Living in our heads can create a feeling of being untethered. Thoughts move at light-speed, but bones move at a much more relaxing pace. Feel the ground and connect back to your bones.
#4: turn off all notifications
Screens and digital devices keep us in a state of high-alert. Every notification, ding, ring, alarm and vibration floods our body with hormones and trains our brain to feel addicted to these digital hits. When we are chasing after emails, app updates, text messages, and social media likes and comments, we never stop running. In our world, the practice of slowing down requires getting intentional about our relationship with our digital devices. A good start would be to turn off all notifications. Bonus practice: Take a a digital detox once a week for a day, or a few times a year for a week or longer. Grab the Just Be Here With Me Digital Detox Guide to make that life-giving practice super-doable and easy.
#5: FOCUS ON Your Big Toes
This may sound crazy, but it works! Focusing on your big toes is a quick way to get you out of a mental rut. If worry is something that tends to prevent you from being able to slow down, try this practice. When you catch yourself in an worry loop, regroup and focus on your feet. You can look at your big toes or feel your big toes in your shoes. Spend 30 seconds wrapped up in toe-ness. The more wholeheartedly you can focus on your big toe, the less trapped you'll feel in your own mind. Making your brain work in this way creates new firing patterns that can life you out of your rut.
#6 Delight in Your Senses
There is a reason we have the saying, "Stop and smell the roses." Delighting in our senses is an immediate life-enhancer. Finding joy in what we are seeing, hearing, tasting, feeling, smelling, is often times all it takes to shift our perspective back into a healthier, happier state of mind. Delight connects us back to gratitude. Gratitude reminds us we don't have to strive so hard to be happy. When we realize we don't have to strive, our whole being shifts gears to go at a slower, more present and delightful pace.
#7 Make tea
For centuries, tea has been a useful ritual, inviting the tea-drinker to slow down. The time it takes to boil water and steep the tea leaves is an invitation to just be here.
#8 Listen to a Guided Meditation
It's okay to let it be easy. It's okay to just sit back and push play and breathe. Guided meditations are a great way to slow down and get rest for your body and brain. I created a free one for you to try. It's called "Breathe With Love" and in it I'll walk you through the breathing technique I use every single day to help me slow down. Get it here.
Slowing down takes dedication. In our busy world, slowing down can feel like swimming up stream. The good news is, we can get better at it. We can create new habits just by committing to do the smallest amount, daily. For instance, commit to 2 min, or even just 20 seconds of mindful breathing. Set a reminder on your phone and when the alarm rings, honor your new tiny habit of slowing down and breathing with love. A little can go a long way to shift your day.