Slowing Down vs Rushing Through Life.

Slowing Down vs Rushing Through Life.

Our lives are guided by natural rhythms that are particular to each of us and cannot be altered by force of will alone. Life itself is a journey made up of processes and events that manifest before us only to be swept away when time marches on. Whether we envision ourselves creating a career, building a family, or developing the self, we instinctively know when the time has come for us to realize our dreams because all that is involved comes together harmoniously. When the time is right, the passage of destiny cannot be blocked. Yet as desperate as we are to touch these beautiful futures we have imagined, we cannot grow if we are not fully present in the evolutionary experience.

The present can be challenging, uncomfortable, and tedious, but life unfolds as it will, and the universe will wait patiently as we make our way into the unknown.

The fate that awaits us is not dependent on our pace, so there is no reason to rush through life to reach those pinnacles of success associated with the paths we have chosen. Enjoying and fully experiencing the journey of life is as important as achieving goals and reaching milestones. There are lessons we can learn during the moments that seem insignificant that we cannot learn at any other time.

However, appreciating these takes patience because human beings tend to focus on the fulfillment of expectations, rather than the simple joys of being. Like many people, you have no doubt longed for the ability to fast forward through certain periods of your life. Yet haste is, by its very nature, vastly more stressful than serene fortitude. When you feel yourself growing impatient because the pace of your development is deceptively slow, remember everything that will occur in your life will occur in its own time.

Quelling your urge to rush will enable you to witness yourself learning, changing, and becoming stronger. There is so much to see and do in between the events that we deem definitive.

If you are patient enough to take pleasure in your life’s unfolding, the journey from one pinnacle to the next will seem to take no time at all.

Text from Daily Om.

Silence.

Silence.

Silence can make us nervous thinking we need to fill the void, but there is immense strength in silence.

All sounds, from a whisper to a classical symphony, arise out of silence and disappear into silence. But silence is always there beneath sound and is the space where sound can exist. We tend to think of silence as the absence of sound, but silence has its own weight and quality. When you listen to silence, you can perceive its intense depth and power. 

Taking the time to experience silence calms the mind and rejuvenates the body. Silence is the void where we can hear the many sounds that we often ignore - the voice of our intuition telling us the truth, the sound of the breeze blowing, the hum of the radiator, and the noises we make just because we are alive.

One way to experience silence is to wake up before the rest of the world has come alive. Try not to move into activity, and leave off the lights, radio, and television. Sit still and simply listen. You may hear your heartbeat or your breath, but keep your attention tuned to the silence that surrounds you. Stay this way for as long as you can, and allow the sound of silence to penetrate your body until it moves into your core. Feel the gentle, pulsing waves of silence and allow it to cleanse you. Five minutes of communing with silence can leave you feeling vibrant and connected to the universe.

At night, choose a moment after everyone around you has retired and tune in to silence. You can also experience silence throughout the day. Even in the midst of activity, moments of silence are always present. Usually we ignore or feel nervous around silence and try to fill these moments with sound. 

Yet silence is always there - vast, potent, and available for us to step into any time we choose.
Rest To Recover.

Rest To Recover.

When we watched as Simone Biles withdrew from her Olympic competitions, we were shownI a vital lesson: even the strongest of us need time to recover, to rest and recharge. So, as we close out the summer months and the temptation to pick up the pace calls, I am consciously pausing and reminding myself to take note of the lessons I have learned. As Simone said, “We also have to focus on ourselves, because at the end of the day, we’re human, too. We have to protect our mind and our body, rather than just go out there and do what the world wants us to do.”

Too often we feel we have to “give it our all” at the expense of our well-being. We’re eager to prove ourselves and show our teams we’re capable and reliable. This became especially true as many people moved to a virtual work environment for the first time and the lines between work and home blurred. For many, the early uncertainty of the pandemic also led to longer days and less time off. With the changing nature of work, it can feel as though this level of exhaustive determination is now just part of the job. If asked how work is going, we say we’re, “giving 110%,” “firing on all cylinders,” and “burning the candle at both ends.” But if we really look at these phrases and consider what they mean, we realize keeping this pace means there will likely be nothing left of us to give — not to work or to any other aspect of life. We end up exhausted, depleted, and burned out — a feeling that is all too familiar for many people. 

Well-being should be a priority in our personal and professional lives if we are to thrive in mind, body, and purpose. Growth requires us to add value, find opportunities, and bring new insights, but rest is required for accessing these skills. We are encouraged to make time for our physical, emotional, and financial well-being, set boundaries, and listen to warning signs instead of ignoring them — tasks we mistakenly think will take away from our focus at work and in life. However, when we carve out this time, we find we have more to give to work and everyone around us.
We all pride ourselves on having a great work ethic. And we’re missing a “rest ethic.” Having a strong work ethic — without a correspondingly strong rest ethic that we take every bit as seriously — is what’s burning us out. We should see time off as an investment into productivity, and into creativity.

It’s so important to commit to recharging our internal batteries regularly. In doing so, we find our reservoir of energy replenished instead of drained and we’re able to bring more passion to all that we do. Yes, our daily demands are calling but we’ll never achieve the growth we are seeking by simply “powering through” them. Instead, we should make real time to unplug and reset. 

So, while our work calendar fills up with engagements, client meetings, and travel (maybe), also find time to enjoy what’s left of our warm summer days — because the time spent on our own rest and recovery is just as important for our collective growth and success. 
When Your Body Tells to Slow Down.

When Your Body Tells to Slow Down.

It’s only natural to feel stressed from time to time. When we do, it’s important to address the feeling head-on. When we ignore our bodies’ signs that tell us to slow down, our stress can build up and eventually escalate, which can lead to burnout.  

Thrive asked its community to share with us the little hints from their bodies that tell them it’s time to slow down. Which of these signs are you experiencing?

You’re having trouble focusing 

“If I notice I’m having difficulty focusing during the morning, and by noon I’m reaching for more coffee to wake up, I know I’m trying to do too much. When I notice it, I step away from everything and set my timer on my phone for three minutes to do some alternate nostril breathing. This strategy increases my energy and ability to focus.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and life coach, Royal Oak, MI

You feel sore and achy

“Over the years, I have been more mindful about the clues my body is trying to tell me. One physical sign that I need to slow down is tension in my upper body, especially in my neck. When that happens, I know that I need to amp up with my self-care. Some of my favorite activities are walking and listening to a guided meditation. There’s something about being outdoors while getting some movement that feels both rejuvenating and relaxing to me.”

—Pamela Biasca Losada, health coach, Pittsburgh, PA

You’re more cranky than usual

“I get cranky when I’m overworked or feel stressed. I know I can’t put a finger on one single trigger and that’s a signal to slow down. I either take a nap or call up a friend who makes me feel better. After that, I  give myself some breathing space to relax.”

—Aakriti Agarwal, psychologist and coach, Hyderabad, India

Your eye is twitching

“I get a little eye twitch when my body hasn’t had enough rest, whether it was a busy work week or I had loads of home commitments. I used to power through the twitches during the week and try to sleep in on the weekends. What works better for me now is to commit to going to bed 20 minutes earlier for a few days. My body still wakes at the usual time it needs to wake, and the little extra time slowly gets me back on track.”

—Donna Peters, executive coach and MBA faculty, Atlanta, GA

Your neck feels stiff

“One small way my body tells me to slow down is when I feel tension at the base of my neck. The tension is the warning signal, but if I ignore it, the tension can turn into a knot. The inflammation surrounding the knot feels like a throbbing pain, making it unbearable to work at my desk or sleep peacefully. To ease my stress levels, I’ve rearranged my schedule to incorporate more mindfulness exercises throughout my day. I begin my day with meditation, prayer, and gratitude journaling. And midway through my schedule, I take a walk outside to reconnect with nature.”

—Karla J. Noland, personal development and executive coach, Durham, N.C.

You’re especially tired

“I know my body needs serious rest when I start to feel full-body fatigue and aches, that no amount of coffee can fix. When I start feeling this way, I try to find time for a nap during the day and go to bed early for the next few nights.”

—Holly Fowler, health coach, Los Angeles, CA

Your stomach is hurting

“When I feel stressed or overwhelmed, my tummy starts feeling uncomfortable. This is a signal for me to step away from my desk, go on a short walk, change scenery, and be conscious about taking deep breaths. Being in tune with my body helps me stay productive throughout the day.”

—Isabelle Bart, social impact coach, Orange County, CA

You feel pressure in your head

“It’s really obvious when my body tells me to slow down. My shoulders tighten like a vice until it feels like my head might pop right off! Whenever I begin to feel this way, there is one solution that is free, easy, and always works: sunlight. When I step outside and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, it lowers my stress and recharges me. On days when it is cloudy, I supplement this by breathing in fresh air, which has a similar effect.”

—Joe Kwon, author, Oakland, N.J.

You’re more clumsy than usual

“When I start dropping things, I realize I’m in too much of a hurry. There is no such thing as multitasking. It’s just task shifting when I do that I drop things. I slow down and get more methodical when this happens. I also drop the ‘things’ that are extraneous or too strenuous on my body, mind, and spirit. It’s a reminder for me to slow down without distractions.”

—Mary Joye, licensed mental health counselor, FL

You feel like you’re in “fight or flight” mode

“Last Tuesday was a great example of recognizing my body’s needs. I had a stressful morning at work as I needed to find a solution for an urgent problem. I succeeded but my body was in fight or flight mode for a few hours afterward. I felt like after a few coffees, my breath was shallow, and I started having a headache. This is a typical stress response for me. In these moments, I choose to push back my meetings and take care of myself first. Meditation at the beach and cold dips have helped me to release the tension.”

—Paulina Kabaczuk, manager, Sydney, Australia

Text from Thrive
Presence Rather Than Productivity.

Presence Rather Than Productivity.

When we slow down and turn inward, we're able to better optimize our time and manage our priorities.

There is a better way to rethink your relationship to productivity, sustainability, and a world in flux. And guess what? It’s right in front of you.

For starters: Imagine for a moment that rather than optimizing for productivity, we optimized for presence. (Lest you worry this sounds a bit woo-woo for your business, career, or lifestyle, I assure you it is not.) Allow me to explain. 

The old script, or the way we have been largely accustomed to viewing the world, is obsessed with optimizing for speed, efficiency, and productivity. If you can shave five seconds off your daily routine, or cram one more call into a jam-packed afternoon, that’s victory. 

For a long time, even after I’d started writing my new script, I didn’t question this busyness. I went along with it, on extra-busy days even joyfully. But the more I observed, the more undeniable the disconnect was. And when I slowed down to deepen my observation, I was dumbfounded. Hold on: What are we really doing? How in the world have we persuaded one another—and ourselves— that more meetings will somehow make our legacy more important? How have we convinced ourselves that saving five minutes will somehow save our soul? 

With the new script, rather than measure meetings, you can gauge presence: your ability to be fully in a moment, experience, or decision. One meeting in which everyone is fully present is worth more than a thousand meetings in which people are distracted. 

Ultimately, presence is about attention and response. These things are different, yet closely related: you respond to what you’re paying attention to. When you’re running fast, you’re unable to pay full attention. When you’re scattered, you pay attention to the wrong things, which often botches your response. 

The crux of the solution to our obsession with speed is simple: slowing down improves your chances of getting the issue and your response right. But that’s not all: you discover that time is what you perceive it to be. When you slow down, you actually have more time. When you have more time, you can be fully present.

So how does one learn to optimize for presence? Fortunately, there are many ways to begin. Some may seem mundane and others quirky. Try whichever ones pique your interest, without overthinking! I find that the more bizarre a new practice seems, the more off-kilter the current habits usually are. 

Stillness practice: Start with thirty seconds, then one minute, two minutes, up to five minutes (or longer) of utter stillness. This is not meditation; it is even simpler. It’s sitting, stilling your mind, and seeing where it wanders. Don’t judge; just notice. Is your mind able to unwind, or does it speed up? 

Silence practice: Silence—whether the silence of nature or the silence at the end of a breath cycle (kumbhaka)— helps quiet the mind. Silence can be found almost anywhere: you may have to search a bit, but it is there. Find five minutes to bathe in silence daily. Pay attention to the emptiness. Notice what hangs in the space between you and sound. What is it calling you towards? 

Patience practice: Cultivating patience is one of the most difficult yet most powerful ways to run slower. Pick something that you know will take time—say, waiting for an appointment—and deliberately don’t fill that waiting time with social media apps, calls, word games, or whatever else. Just be . . . and wait. Do you feel tested, or freed? 

Not-to-do (or to-don’t) list: To-do lists help us run faster and stay on the hamster wheel. A not-to-do list does the opposite. Draft both versions and see which one feels more fluxy. (I find that a combination of both can work well, so long as what’s on my to-do list actually matters.) 

Micro-sabbaticals: Brainstorm a list of opportunities to pause, whether for a moment or for a month. The simple act of drawing up this list can help relieve tension. It creates a sense of space rather than rushing and serves as a reminder of the many shapes of slowing down. 

Nature bathing: Nature is a microcosm of constant change and an unparalleled tutor for running slower. Find the nearest spot of wilderness—a forest, lake, or open field—and absorb the environment through all five senses. This isn’t hiking, birding, or camping; this is simply being in nature. The Japanese call this shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing.”(1 )

Technology Shabbat: Once a week, disconnect from the use of all technology with screens: smartphones, computers, tablets, and television.(2) If that feels like too much, start with a few hours and build up to a day. Use the time for quiet personal reflection, perhaps with an old-school pen and paper. 

Running slower shifts your focus of attention from outside to inside, with a goal to really listen to what’s going on internally. 

PROTECT THE ASSET 

The first time I heard this phrase was in China, listening to a panel of international entrepreneurs who had experienced massive health scares talk about coping when health thwarts your best-laid plans. The punchline was: no matter what your mindset, your body still keeps the score.(3) We can’t simply keep treating conditions like exhaustion, anxiety, and burnout by exercising and eating better. We must address the underlying sources of these conditions and meaningfully, consistently slow down. 

“Protecting the asset” acknowledges that when your mind is wound up, your body is wound up too, and neither functions well. Grooving a healthier mindset also requires addressing the somatic aspects of one’s relationship with speed. And there is no way for anyone to heal at speed. Quite the contrary: running ever faster ultimately kills. So we must slow down. 

The first step in protecting the asset is assessing how your body is holding onto, and embodying, speed. I think of this as a micro health check-in with myself. How am I feeling? Which parts of my body are racing? Which are speaking up, and what are they saying? 

Your most powerful somatic tool is your breath. It’s like a Swiss army knife, because it does so much. It is also the bridge between your inner and outer worlds, between body and mind. As you navigate constant change, a committed breathing practice—even a few minutes a day—becomes essential. 

There are a range of simple, yet powerful personal exercises and habits that can help you run slower and protect the asset: eating slower to thoroughly notice and relish each bite, walking slower to pay attention to the details on your path, slowing down the pace of travel by choosing options like walking instead of driving, and dancing rather than walking to your destination.  

Running slower helps you think slower and delay judgment, both of which empower you to manage your time—rather than time managing you—and bring your best self to life. 

On average, bad things happen fast and good things happen slow.

Text by Stewart Brand
Taking Time For Myself.

Taking Time For Myself.

Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. 

Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul's needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

 It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people's requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. 

The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life.