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Slowing Down: The Energy of Pausing


This entry was posted on Sep 22, 2022 by Charlotte Bell.

Relaxation and Meditation

Slowing the tempo of our lives transforms the mundane into the transcendent. It teaches us how a lot there’s to understand in simplicity.

Years in the past I took a trip to Baja, to go to some pals who had relocated. One morning I made a decision to take a stroll on a abandoned seaside. As my tempo slowed because of the mushy sand, I started to note issues alongside the way in which that I may not have seen if I’d been dashing alongside at my common tempo. I observed a wonderfully formed conch, glowing pebbles, multicolored sand crystals. One specific pile of tide particles caught my eye. I ended to look extra intently.

Right here had been minute shells simply millimeters lengthy, vibrantly coloured, iridescent, unimaginably stunning. The longer I squatted within the sand inspecting the particles, the extra beautiful the scene grew to become. Even the tiniest shells had been attractive, painted and lacquered with care as if by miniature artisans. I mused that if I squatted there lengthy sufficient I would be capable of discern the character of every grain of sand within the beautiful pile of particles. I used to be grateful I had nowhere to go, no essential process to perform. This jogged my memory of the chic fantastic thing about slowing down.

The Observe of Slowing Down

I initially grew to become acquainted the observe of slowing down on my first vipassana meditation retreat a few years in the past. That is the place I first realized the formal observe of strolling meditation. As the times glided by, the observe of slowing down started to filter into every part we did—consuming, brushing tooth, washing dishes, showering, consuming a cup of tea, practising yoga asana.

From the surface, we most likely seemed a bit odd, possibly a little bit sleepy and lackluster. However the interior expertise couldn’t have been extra vibrant. Slowing down and connecting with the myriad micro-movements that make up every motion made me really feel totally, consciously alive.

“We’re all sensation junkies,” stated writer and meditation instructor Sylvia Boorstein on a retreat I attended at Spirit Rock Meditation Middle. We’re a tradition that craves stimulation, a tradition of velocity and pleasure. As a individuals we’re drawn to driving quick, being scared out of our minds by movies, watching aggressive sports activities and listening to loud music. These items are thrilling and stimulating to us. Feeding our sensation behavior helps us really feel extra important.

How Speediness Can Obscure the Second

The yoga sutras outline yoga as “the settling of the thoughts into silence.” After we velocity alongside at our routine tempo, our actions turn into mechanical. Our minds are anyplace however within the current. However it’s within the current second the place our minds can settle into silence. After we decelerate, we are able to extra simply glimpse the silent thoughts, the infinite sky of consciousness.

In the identical means the tangled mass of particles on the seaside can remodel right into a implausible panorama, the sensations of residing in our body-mind will be fairly compelling. However we have now to decelerate to expertise them. From the vantage level of readability, what we see, really feel, hear, contact, odor and style generally is a celebration.

By means of quiet yoga and meditation observe I’ve discovered the refined energies transferring via the physique to be fascinating. After we are keen to decelerate sufficient to look deeply, new worlds confide in us which are profoundly satisfying and enlivening.

Nevertheless, practising slowing down on a meditation retreat, the place it’s a important a part of the observe, is kind of completely different from attempting to calm the velocity of our every day lives. In Twenty first-century Western tradition, having a full schedule is taken into account to be an indication of advantage. Taking time to loosen up is taken into account to be an indication of weak point or sloth.

It’s, actually, enjoyable to interact in actions that stimulate. However residing in a state of fixed exercise, with no time to decelerate or cease, shouldn’t be a state of steadiness. It’s from the bottom of steadiness—the ever-changing centerpoint between motion and relaxation—that we dwell most gracefully on the planet.

Gradual Down, De-Stress

It’s debatable that stress is the plague of our time and tradition. Many people preserve the lightning tempo of our lives by way of adrenaline. Our adrenal glands and nervous system work additional time to maintain us on monitor. The adrenals are supposed to assist us via occasional nerve-racking conditions, not the regular onslaught of a packed schedule. With out occasional relaxation, they put on down. After they put on down we turn into drained and really feel harassed.

Gradual motion might alter our physiological steadiness in a means that’s replenishing to our nervous system. Roger Cole, Ph.D., is a yoga instructor and analysis scientist who specializes within the physiology of rest, sleep and organic rhythms. He research the advantage of gradual actions, resembling yoga and tai chi, on the human nervous system.

“They supply regular, mild, nice enter to the nervous system from kinesthetic sensors within the physique (muscle spindle stretch receptors, golgi tendon organs, joint place sensors),” he says. “Simply as after we get a therapeutic massage, this might assist induce reflex rest of the muscle tissues and make us really feel mentally secure, lowering the ‘fight-or-flight’ response the mind (and thereby lowering the degrees of stress hormones circulating within the bloodstream).”

How Slowing Down Would possibly Really Make You Extra Productive

Maybe the physiological advantages of slowing down would possibly even enhance our potential to perform what we have to do. After I take time every day to drop my schedule and do one thing utterly unrelated to work or to do nothing in any respect, I come again to my obligations with extra readability and equanimity. Some days might permit an hour to decelerate; others might not.

On the extra tightly scheduled days I would do one thing easy. This might embrace:

  • taking a leisurely stroll across the block
  • practising a number of yoga asanas
  • mindfully washing the dishes
  • taking part in with my cats
  • savoring my dinner
  • mindfully consuming a cup of tea

It doesn’t matter what I do to. What issues is that I permit myself to go to the second totally, to expertise its richness and wonder. How a lot work I accomplish is much less essential than the spirit and care I carry to what I do. Slowing the tempo of our lives transforms the mundane into the transcendent. It teaches us how a lot there’s to understand in simplicity.

About Charlotte Bell

Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and started instructing in 1986. Charlotte is the writer of Aware Yoga, Aware Life: A Information for On a regular basis Observe and Yoga for Meditators, each printed by Rodmell Press. Her third e-book is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and folks sextet Purple Rock Rondo, whose DVD gained two Emmy awards in 2010.

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