Mindful Moment: Slow down

January 23, 2017 | Julie Luzarraga

We live in a fast-paced world with unrealistic expectations.  We expect to get things done faster and better than is actually possible.  How many times do you set unrealistic goals for the day or the week; failing to consider what is humanly possible to accomplish in a 24-hour period of time.

There are lots of reasons we feel so pressured.  Social media makes it look like everyone else is getting it all done while taking time for a pretty picture of the accomplishment.  Many workplaces are leaner than ever and attempting to do more with less.  Neurologically, we are hooked on the short blasts of dopamine we get from immediate gratification – communicating in real time, making purchases at any time of the day, seeing our photos instantly publicized for all to admire.  And then there is the irony of wanting to hurry up and slow down.  It’s the trap of thinking if we just get it all done, we can then relax and slow down.  But, it never all gets done.  And, often times, we can get more done when we slow down.

When I feel like I’m moving too fast for my own (or anyone else’s) good, I use one of my favorite quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh to remind me to slow down: “Smile, breathe, and go slowly.”

This week, see if you can remember to smile.  It doesn’t have to be a huge grin (though it could be).  Just let the corners of your mouth turn up slightly.  Then take a breath.  Consciously breathe in and out.  Letting the out breath or exhale be a letting go breath.  Let the shoulders gently come away from the ears.  Then, move slowly.  Take your time.  Resist the urge to rush or move quickly.  You’ll notice a difference in how you feel, interact with others and likely get more done than you expect.

Mindful moments are short practices to be used throughout your week to relax, integrate and center yourself.  Inspired by the wisdom traditions and science, mindful moments are meant to be accessible and simple enough for anyone to practice.  Many teachers and leaders in integrative medicine have influenced our approach to mindful moments. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”  Pema Chodron would say it is “practicing in the gaps.”  Look for the weekly mindful moment every Monday.  May it support you in finding your center to live life to the fullest.

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