… moving real life into the slow lane …
S.L.O.W = sustainable, local, organic and whole
Slow living emerged from the slow food trend in the 1980’s. Slow food was a response to lack lustre, unhealthy prepackaged, fast foods which many felt lacked a soul connection to land, to community, and to a feeling of vitality and wellness. Slow food is all about getting back to the roots, the traditions and joy of food with a focus on growing, rearing and making food in a more traditional way from scratch. This movement marks a renewed interest in growing, pickling, preserving, fermenting, bread making, cheese making and a range of other almost lost skills and knowledge from our collective food history. Slow food marks a transition back to preparing and eating food together where conversation can flow and ideas are tossed around like a salad being dressed.
Slow living has sprung from the slow food concept and has become an acronym for an all enveloping attitude to life, one that is more leisurely relaxed and in tune with our natural rhythms. As our world becomes more digitised we are increasingly saturated with more information leading to overwhelm and a sense of disconnection. As our reliance on technology increases exponentially a need to slow down and actually live life is rapidly becoming a very attractive option for people rather than racing from activity to activity. Slow living is a wish to move back to a more thoughtful, a more considered way of living. In essence, the movement is about letting go of the need to be constantly busy, of constantly doing something, of always wanting to move onto the next task.
Living simply doesn’t mean you have to dump your devices it just means changing your approach choosing to switch off, limiting time on devices and taking time to really connect with yourself, your family and friends, your community and to nature.
Let go of auto pilot and say hello to conscious mindful choices about how to live your life.
Slowing Down with Yoga
Slowing down has been a huge part of my yoga journey. Learning to breathe into difficult poses has helped me do the same in daily life to just breathe when I feel pushed, overwhelmed or just like I am not in a space to respond or make a decision. The simple act of breathing and feeling my body and the way it is reacting to stimulus has given me the gift of slowing down enough to be able to know that what I need is space. Creating space in my life to draw, paint, write, garden or to simply life in my hammock or day bed and read a book or daydream had been a deep healing experience. It has bought balance to my life in ways I would never have fathomed if I had kept up at the ‘expected’ fast pace of modern living
My meditation practice – chanting or sitting watching my breath – gives me time out to observe how fast my mind is racing and what is occupying my thoughts. I have space to take stock of where and what I am spending my energy on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level and this has given me the tools to carve out time, shift my perspective and to slowly change habits.
I ask myself: Does this nourish me?
Tips for Slow Living
Here are some of my tips for slow living
Unleash your creativity by lessening how much time you spend on devices and screen time. Switch your phone off after work, in the weekend, on walks, and definitely when enjoying meals. Try having a digital curfew and only switch devices on when absolutely necessary – this can be addictive in itself once you have experienced the freedom of being present in your life. My friend has all her social media apps in a folder making it easier to resist that habitual checking on instagram or facebook.
I am a huge advocate for getting out into the garden and growing your own food. The sheer delight I get from planting a seed or seedling tending to it and finally having the pleasure of creating something delicious to eat is a fabulous benefit of slow life. You don’t have to try and grow all your food like we try to do rather pick a few easy to grow favourites like lettuce, asian greens or herbs maybe in pots or on your kitchen window sill. Even growing sprouts in a jar will allow you to connect deeply to your food and slow you down.
If preparing food at home from scratch is stressful try creating a selection of simple meals that you can shop for without over complicating life. As we move into autumn slow cooked nourishing foods like soups, vegetable tagines, dahls and curries can give structure and purpose to your evening. Slow food is all about reconnecting with mother earth and the bounty she provides for us. Taking your time to enjoy cooking and eating the food you have grown or prepared is incredibly nurturing and helps you to digest your day as well as set you up for a relaxed evening.
Declutter – oh yes this can really make a difference because having a home full of stuff creates an oppressive feeling and can literally slow you down as you wade through piles of stuff in drawers, tables, desks and cupboards as you try to find what you are looking for.There are plenty of guides to how to go about de-cluttering your home, in fact, apparently you can even hire someone to come in and help you. The way I do it is to start small perhaps just a drawer or a cupboard in the bathroom. I go through what is there and ask myself if the item is out of date – out it goes, has it been there for a long time and not been used – out it goes, could I gift it to someone who may use it – off it goes, and if I am unsure it stays out until I have made a decision. I don’t ascribe to the rule of does it bring me joy because then I would give away items I require to function like my toothbrush – it serves a function but I’m not sure if joy is the word I would use to describe brushing my teeth.
Recently I have started making soap and find great satisfaction in creating beautiful natural soaps for my family and friends. Setting up and making a batch takes around an hour, and a couple of days later I release the soaps from the mould. I then have to wait a few months for the soap to cure so it is nice and hard and will last longer. No shortcuts!
Creative pursuits are a wonderful way of letting go of being busy as you lean into the activity and go with the flow – drawing, painting, origami, gardening, crocheting, preserving or reading a book. Another one of my favourite activities is to walk in the local park, or bush land and taking time to notice the drops of rain on the leaves, the colours of the flowers, the insects moving, the smell of the earth, the leaves, the rain and feel my skin caressing the wind.
Rest deeply it is a necessity. Clear a weekend, a day or even an afternoon and do whatever takes you fancy. Resist the urge to fill your times with chores they can wait – go out watch the sunrise the sunset, watch the waves break on the shore, lie and listen to music, take a long luxurious bath, take that yoga class you have been promising yourself. Rest deeply!
No matter where you are there is space to slow down.
Focus on your breathing, close your eyes and just breathe. Focus on your breath and where you feel it most clearly – nostrils, chest, belly. Take 5 conscious breaths breathing in 1, breathing out 1 if you get distracted n problem just start again.
Scan your body from the crown of your head to your feet and notice how your body is feeling, how is it responding to life – no judging or trying to change it just observe. Move your attention to what you can hear and breathe for 5 breaths now focus on what you can smell and stay with that for 5 breaths. When you are ready come back and move on with your day knowing there is always time to stop and take time for yourself, to slow down.