Living the Slow Fast Life

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

In the quickness of our haste
It seems we forget how to live

~ No Doubt, World Go ‘Round

It’s not that I don’t know slowing down helps me a great deal. It’s not that I don’t know how to slow down. It’s not even that I don’t like slowing down. It’s more that slowing down is…well, slow. I find that I just can’t sustain slow any more than I can sustain fast anymore.

Imagine holding a 10lb dumbbell in your right hand (or go pick up a 10lb dumbbell). Whether in your mind or in reality, raise the dumbbell into a bicep curl, using a quick 2- or 3-count and the same to lower it. Now do it again using a 10-count to raise the dumbbell and concentrate on the crease in your elbow as you raise the weight. Use a 10-count to lower the dumbbell to its starting position. Big difference, right?

This is the slowness I simply cannot sustain. One of my goals last year was to meditate for a total of 7 hours during the month of January. If I’d meditated every day of the month I’d need to do so for just over 13.5 minutes every day. If I meditated only on weekdays, I’d need to bump it up to 20 minutes per session, given the 21 weekdays in January. Sounded completely doable when I proposed it to myself. I even felt the kick inside to do so.

Until I realized it was January 31 at 8am and I still had 158 minutes (2h, 38m) left to meditate to reach my goal.

Throughout the day I managed to meditate for four times, averaging 18 minutes per meditation. The first two were relatively simple.I focused on being still and being inspired on the inside. During the third meditation my anxiety began to build, and I address that anxiety during the fourth one. Which cleared my conscious from feeling the need to do a fifth or god forbid, a sixth and seventh meditation, just to meet my goal.

Instead, I opted to journal with the prompt: “I’ve learned from meditating…”

Here’s some of what I learned:

I’ve learned from meditating that the stillness calms me when I’m able to engage in it. I’ve learned from meditating that it will not fix what I believe to be broken. I’ve learned from meditating that I am still the same person on the inside, regardless of how many minutes I log in meditation. I’ve learned from meditating that using meditation to do anything other than meditate is useless for me. I’ve learned from meditating that I don’t have a prescribed amount that I need on a daily basis. I’ve learned from meditating to listen to my body. I’ve learned from meditating that my body doesn’t lie to me; my mind, on the other hand, does. I’ve learned from meditating to allow thoughts to wander and observe their paths. I’ve learned from meditating that there is no right way or wrong way to do it. I’ve learned from meditating that I love my imperfections.

I went on for nearly 1,000 words in my journal on what I learned from meditating, but what struck me most was that I felt obligated to meditate. I felt obligated to finish my task. I felt obligated to honor my expressed value. And what I know of myself is that when I feel obligated (versus feeling the kick of joy inside), I end up resenting whatever I’m doing, no matter how great the value or how much I’m learning.

Thing is, there’s just as much learning in the slowness of life as there is in the quickness of all its moving parts. There must be movement in order to grow, whether quick or slow. What we must sustain is movement, not pace. We must sustain life, not obligation. Obligation is a distraction from your purpose in life. If you have a value you want to honor, simply honor it.

Don’t ride your obligations to your value’s death.

  • Devon

    “Don’t ride your obligations to your value’s death.” Wow! Something I need reminding of. What a fantastic thing to consider as I embark on trying new things, and continuing to form better habits.

    • I’m reminding myself of this under similar circumstances! We’re always a work in progress, aren’t we? Better than the alternative, I suppose =)

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