There are one hundred and sixty eight hours in a week. If we slow down to count from one to one hundred and sixty eight – slowly, deliberatelty, mindfully – we can become aware of the amount of time that we potentially have access to. Even a slow count from one to twenty four, in the moments that we first awaken in the morning, can help us to reflect upon the treasury of the new day that has been opened before us.
Those few early morning minutes can indeed be ‘trend-setters’ for the rest of the hours of the day. In those early moments of the day, our minds and hearts are like flowers laden with dew opening towards the rising sun. The dew will surely turn into vapor as the heat of the world around us rises and we plunge into our daily routine. Yet, we have an opportunity to begin our day with a few moments of slowing down, a relaxation.
In an age of acceleration, nothing is as exhilarating as going slow. – Pico Iyer (via @GaryGruber)
We often slow down, relax, unwind at the end of the day, rather than the beginning. We are usually ‘running late’ in the morning, so we tend to plunge head-first into the river of action. We often leave little time for ourselves to appreciate the interplay of fragrance, moisture and morning light. I am well aware of this ‘reverse order’ of slowing down, because I did the same for many years in my life.
And then one day, I decided that I was going to reverse the order of ‘slowing down’. All it took was ‘giving up’ some minutes of sleep in the morning. But I really didn’t give anything up because I discovered that I really loved ‘slowing down’ more than I loved ‘sleeping in and rushing into the day’. I didn’t give up ‘slowing down’ at the end of the day either. In fact, the acts of ‘slowing down’ have become the primary bookends of my days.
It has been a slow, deliberate process that has been almost eighteen months in the making. Meaningful change does not happen instantly. The decision to change may happen in an instant, but the actions necessary to effect that change in the long term takes a commitment to practice. And I wonder if that is why so many of us, including me, have a challenge with ‘slowing down’ in the long term. We may slow down intermittently when we are exhausted, tired of rushing around. We may slow down intermittently on vacations, in (spiritual) retreats or on the ‘weekends’. But the challenge is to create a lifestyle which makes ‘slowing down’ as essential as breathing.
Indulge me when you have a minute. Sit, and close your eyes. Start taking an in-breath. Visualize the air near your nose enter the air passageways as it makes it long way through the trachea and into each lung. It is now traveling through smaller and smaller passages until it reaches the alveoli. Here, the oxygen from the air is exchanged with the carbon-dioxide from the blood brought from the heart. This exchange happens across a thin membrane that makes life possible. Both the air stream (the purifier) and the blood stream (the receiver) have to virtually come to a standstill so that purity can be effected. You have slowed down, and yet only taken half a breath. Now, watch the air leave the lungs as it reverses path and leaves through the mouth or nose. You have completed one breath. One, slow, deliberate cycle of life.
Maybe our spiritual heart works the same way. Is it possible that the medium that purifies our spiritual heart needs us to slow down, to relax, to perhaps even surrender – so that It may do its work of purificiation and renewal?
Let us pause to consider. Let us be aware of the moments that create beauty and joy in our heart. Let our (spiritual) practice help us create more such moments for ourselves. Let us eventually create an environment for those around us that will invite them to create such moments for themselves. For it is then that ‘slowing down’ will create lasting change.
I invite you to ‘slow down’ with us in #SpiritChat on Sunday, July 30th at 9amET/1pmUTC on twitter. We will celebrate another year of our weekly Sunday morning conversations with the community, as we launch our seventh year of practice… Thank you, fellow travelers!
A New Day