Beautiful things are everywhere, if we will simply notice.
Yesterday, sitting at my desk I looked up to see three ladybugs on the screen outside my window. Three ladybugs. Where did they come from? Why did they land on the window beside my desk? They were about the size of a stud earring in a deep red color. I watched them and felt a tingle of joy in the middle of my chest. About twenty seconds is all that moment lasted, but my day suddenly became brighter because of it.
Such a small thing, but in my past life watching ladybugs was the last thing on my mind. I stayed in the fast lane for about 45 years, starting at the age of 6. As the oldest child of five, responsibility was my taskmaster, my life model and eventually my engrained pattern. Married at 21, I home schooled my seven children and published 20 books. If I had a slow day, I invented a cleaning project or started a craft.
Slowing down can be a challenge.
Once my husband took our children to an event and I had a day alone at home—something that almost never happened. I so looked forward to that priceless day, then spent the entire time restless and unhappy. I didn’t know how to step off the treadmill.
That sense of urgency shows up as internal dialog saying, “Hurry up! Let’s go! Let’s go! Let’s go!”. It steals the joy from life. Determined to slow down, focus on being present and find joy in everyday life, I consciously made the following changes in my routine.
Three Ways to Slow Down
Start the morning slow.
Change your coffee habit. The best way to break the morning-rush habit is to break it. Instead of setting up the coffee pot to start automatically, make your coffee after you shower. Switch out your coffee pot for a different kind or go to a coffee shop and people watch.
Cover up your clocks. Tune in to your body’s rhythms for when you get up and when you eat. Personal alarm clocks weren’t patented until 1847. We weren’t made to roll out on schedule. Allowing your body to move at its natural rhythm will slow you down.
Spend time in quiet reflection early in the day.
Sit Quietly. Reading a book or magazine, going to the park to watch the dogs—whatever you find relaxing—do that. The practice of quietness lets your body balance, brings down the fight-or-flight hormones and calms that inner urgency. Studies show that calming the firing of your brain will help reduce the chances of dementia and maybe even extend your life.
Find a meditative hobby. Most people think of yoga or a zen practice for meditation—and those are great—but many other quiet activities also slow the brain. Take an art class. Fish off a lonely pier. Go bird watching. Lawn care and wood working can be meditative, as long as the focus is to patiently enjoy the process.
Quiet the Inner Urgency
Slow the breath. In the checkout line or while waiting to be seated, consciously slow your breathing just a little bit. You’ll notice your heart rate calming and your mind as well.
Get a massage. Massage calms the brain. Deep below the skin are nerve receptors that trigger the autonomic system to slow down the mind. Scheduling a weekly massage for a month or two will help break the cycle of rushing.
Pause to Smell the Daisies.
Appreciating and enjoying life doesn’t just happen. I learned I must first stop rushing around long enough to pay attention to what might bring joy in the moment. Breaking old patterns is easier said than done, but can be accomplished with determination and practice.
What a lovely thing to stop, car keys in hand, to notice the contrast of the clouds against the cerulean sky, to enjoy a deep cleansing breath of the crisp air on an autumn morning, or to savor the taste of a favorite morning brew. This moment, right now, is the most important one. This moment is the place where we truly live.
“Alarm Clock” Wikipedia.com https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alarm_clock
Robert Schleip, Fascial Fitness: How To Be Vital, Elastic and Dynamic in Everyday Life and Sport, (Chichester, U.K: Lotus Publishing, 1 edition. June 1, 2017)