I live and work in New York City, it is a big metropolis filled with tall skyscrapers and home to wealthy corporations. Each and every day there is a sense of rush. It is this type of energy, a very male energy that can be felt in most cities like NYC.
I grew up on a farm, much different from big cities, there were mountains and rice fields and in front of that was the sea. It was filled with farmers who farm the field and a thriving fishing community living together, this was nature — female energy.
This juxtaposition of trees, fishes, birds, greenery versus concrete walkways, steel buildings, and grandiose luxury of big cities was a learning experience. Male energy made me strong, create, expand. Female energy made me grounded, and reflect inward.
We need both of these energies. Most are unaware of them, and some are stuck with the male energy of outwardness, they tend to rush, rush, rush — and in the process get lost.
It’s time to make peace with who you truly are NOW. It’s time to be gentle with yourself. Do you know how you can do that? Start by SLOWING DOWN. Learn to slow down everything that you do. Slow down the way you move, act, think, and feel.
“Between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose”
- Stephen Covey
Do you know that between action and reaction, there is a split second where you can control how you react to a stimuli? In that split second you can control whether you become madly irrational or gentle and reasonable. You can facilitate this gap by slowing down.
Slow down and reconnect with yourself if you feel lost. I recommend doing this exercise for a week: slow down everything that you do, start with the things you do everyday like walking and eating.
When you walk, walk slowly and feel your stride and the muscles of your legs and the feel of your shoes as it hits the pavement. By slowing down your walking you will realize you will become more observant of your environment, this is the first thing that you will notice.
The second thing you will notice is you will start observing yourself internally.
This exercise will help you take control of your mind. Learn to see yourself as if you are a fly on the wall — observe your breathing, your posture, the general way you carry yourself at every moment.
Slow down your movement, start with the way you walk.
I am a fast walker, working and living in New York City you tend to walk at a faster pace. By walking slower I noticed many things I did not before, like the beautiful architecture of buildings I usually pass by. I notice the sky and the trees and the beauty that is everywhere. Nature is everywhere, even in big cities.
I also tried slowing down when I eat by chewing the food and savoring it more. I observed that eating this way has another positive side-effect, I end up being full a lot quicker. It seems your body takes some time to process the food you take in and tell you when you had enough. By slowing down and savoring the food you eat, you also take in enough time to observe yourself.
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.”
~ Bruce Lee
Observe your thoughts by slowing down
In slowing down, you will notice something peculiar, you begin to make observations of the thoughts that come into your mind. You will observe these thoughts come to you throughout the day. You can begin to discern whether the thoughts are positive or negative.
When I began observing my thoughts it was filled with negativity. Remember again, negative thoughts attract negativity to you. Once you realize negative thought you can start to turn the vibrations around into a positive one.
Slowing down also enables you to observe the beauty that is all around you. It will cause you to become more grateful of the present moment, savoring your physical experience. It creates a more gentler you, one that is appreciative and grateful of the moment. Slowing down will create this certain feeling — ‘a lightness of being’.
Things I’ve realized by slowing down:
1. I observed the negative thoughts that come in my mind towards other people. This was prevalent the first time I observed myself thinking negative thoughts in the subway about people I commute with to work. I would often become very irritated by them and I would say mean things in my mind.
2. I observed that I am very judgmental towards myself and others. Slowing down helped me become aware of this habit, and correct it. I realized that there were many thoughts that come to me that were negative and critical of myself, often with the way I look and feel. By slowing down I became very observant when these thoughts come to me and I would stop and clear my mind.
How to handle negative and critical thoughts:
I created an exercise to hold these critical thoughts to light and really re-create the energy and vibration from negative to positive. I do this by writing down negative thoughts and examining it. It is very important that these thoughts be written down when they come in otherwise they disappear or become hidden in sight by your own mind. Slowing down helps, otherwise these thoughts just appear and become part of your subconscious and you do not even notice them.
Try to write down prevalent negative thoughts. Once it is written down, question their validity. Re-frame them or set them aside and create constructive, positive, creative, thoughts in place of the negative one.
Slow down by taking things one-step at a time. You cannot enjoy and savor the moment if your mind is thinking of more than one thing. You are also going to lose control of your mind and thoughts if you multi-task because you become less observant.
Try handling one task at a time. We live in a technological era of multi-sensory input and output. When you slow down, do not multi-task. One conversation at a time, one task at a time, one browser window at a time. Just one thing at a time will help.
Simplify. Do not split your attention. Focus on only one thing at a time.
More Exercises and Advice
- Slow down your commute. For one week, walk at a slower pace than you usually walk. Do not rush when you commute to work or school, take your time. In my case for example, I ended up waiting for the next subway car when it is totally full vs. trying to fit myself into one already full and becoming stressed about it. The simple act of slowing down will help de-stress your life.
- Meditation. Try it out. See our guide to mindful meditation here, it’s a great primer to learn how to meditate. Meditation will bring your attention to the ‘now,’ it will help center you, and help slow you down.
I hope you enjoy this one, and remember if you start to lose yourself — slow down.