This end of year my family and I spent some time in a very small town in the Victorian high country for the end of year and start of 2022. After a busy and dramatic 2021 we need a chance to reset and just experience some time away from the bright lights and pace of the big city. My partner and I have both lived in the country during childhood and as we've gotten older we are both keen to return to our roots.
What I discovered is that the art of slow, conscious or mindful living; whatever you want to call it can be created no matter where you physical live -it begins with your mindset and attitude. It is true that you become what you surround yourself with and for this reason choosing where and how you live as well as who you share your time with is an important choice to make.
When I talk about slow living I have discovered that there are certain aspects to slow living that make it fulfilling and favourable to increasing one's sense of wellbeing. Finding the balance between doing things you love vs things you have to do as well as doing nothing at all and just being in the flow of experience itself where ever you are.
Things like being creative, solving problems, adventure or learning something new is what in coaching we call your 'strengths' and these are generally the things you love that give you energy. Then the things you have to do might be obligations, things you have committed to or aspects of your work or home life that require management and these may be draining.
The rare gem in life is allowing yourself time to just be spontaneous, flexible and in harmony with the natural world. Modern city life is perpetually restless and the underlying anxiety might seem like a normal motivator for people to achieve more and increase productivity but it comes at a cost to our quality of life and the value we create and contribute.
Our city living is organised around the idea if we control or consume more or keep up with Jones we will be safe, secure and feel good but it is a lie and one we must recognise and recover from. The concept of leaning toward relentless progress runs intrinsic to the mechanisms of a capitalist system but it takes us further away from who we truly are.
When we can make space for deep resting, wonder and awe we allow ourselves the time and space to listen and process the experiences. We remain open to the present and for connection to the very nature that sustains our life. This means we step outside of the drivers seat of constantly striving anxiously toward outcomes we imagined will bring us more happiness.
Allowing ourself the time and space to slow down enough that we can fully open our heart and mind to the present reality in way that feels embodied and whole gives our lives another dimension. It gives us a new opportunity to imagine a healthier and more sustainable and satisfying way of being human.
If we can discover our own authentic way to slow down we might change our ideas about growth and come to realise that we can emerge through our current challenges stronger and more purposeful. The art of slowing down requires the conscious effort to care about ourselves, each other and the earth.
As we begin the New Year I invite your intention to be for slow living; including regular rest, retreat time for the mind and body, generous relationships in a small community, local business that support the ecology, spaciousness build into everyday life to wonder on the mysteries and the habit of appreciation for what you give and take from the world.