Time is a completely crazy concept (Ice Age is how old!?). Everybody’s days are the same length, so how come some people have to run full speed and others can flow serenely through the day? (hint: it’s not because the first group are busier!) I feel like sometimes I rush through a day without appreciating or really experiencing anything. I’m still a work in progress, but these lessons have taught me how to slow down, enjoy the moment and to move through life more intentionally and gracefully. Now you can too!
“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it, and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.” – George Harrison
Don’t get too attached
First in how to slow down, is a lesson on non-attachment – something I’ve done a lot of research into recently (this video was especially helpful!). Simply put, it’s the concept of loving things, cherishing them and enjoying them, but not attaching to them. What do I mean by attaching? That’s difficult to define, but I suppose I mean developing a reliance on them – not tying your happiness to them, not believing that they’re yours, when they leave or break or end, being able to cherish what they were, but being content that they no longer are. We, at least in the western world, seem to be aggressively attached (how ironic) to the idea that we own things. We’ve romanticised ‘making things ours’ and as a result, we dread change, loss, and the passing of time.
It’s a tricky concept, only because it can be taken so literally and mixed up with an attitude that simply doesn’t care. This was something I struggled with when I first came across the concept because I’m someone that does care very deeply about things. But practising non-attachment isn’t about not caring, it’s about caring, but being able and prepared to let go, or I suppose, never hang on in the first place.
I think we draw our openness to non-attachment from our faith. Whether you believe that everything happens for a reason, worship a god(s), trust in a greater plan or just have faith in yourself to deal with anything that comes your way, that is what will help you refrain from attaching. To truly embed non-attachment into our lives, we need to make sure that our faith is strong. You need to believe you’d be okay even if you lost every single thing and person you hold dear.
It’s easier said than done, but working those ideas into your faith practice is a great place to start.
Learn to appreciate the little things
Rushing from one thing to the next and feeling ‘busy’ makes us feel important, popular, productive and successful. But when you’re jumping between things and not giving anything more than a tired backwards glace, you’re not really experiencing anything.
How much do you feel the world around you?
We spend a lot of time in our heads, dreaming, evaluating, considering ~ we’re deep thinkers, and that’s okay, it’s what set our species apart. But sometimes, we need to take a step back and remember that although thinking is great, we’re really here to experience (and there’s no sabretooth tiger we need to be worried about anyway).
Really taste your food. Really listen when people talk. Be grateful for all the blissful moments and the amazing things you’re surrounded by. When you catch your mind wandering in these moments, acknowledge and nod at the thought you were having, note it down if it’s important and then bring your attention back to the moment you’re in.
You only get one life (that we know of for certain) so experience it as deeply as you can.
Set your priorities and stick to them
Here’s an interesting exercise to try. In order, write down your priorities (everything from loved ones to wanting a good looking IG page) and then separately, make a list of what you spend most of your time and energy on, again in order.
Compare the lists, does your time list match your priorities list? Why not? Is there anything on your time list you’d like to change?
Becoming more aligned with your priorities is, I think, how you win at life. When you’re spending your time and energy on things you truly care about (and I mean truly, not surface level care about or ‘should’ care about) you’ll be happier, more motivated and generally more alive.
There’s always a way to make things work. I remember for years I ‘never had time to read’ until I made reading a priority – it became a non-negotiable part of my routine. At first, I set aside my commutes for reading, but from there, I started finding pockets of time everywhere. Just two years later and I’m speeding through my 50 books a year challenge.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Do one thing at a time
So few people can multitask effectively. For most of us, it’s completely counterproductive, not to mention stressful. Taking things one task at a time will let your mind learn how to slow down and concentrate. This will make you more productive, more engrossed and connected with the task and the people around you, and will help you better retain information. Most importantly, it’ll just make you a lot more content.
You can even do this with smaller tasks. Try doing nothing else whilst you eat your breakfast. Give all of your attention to that piece of toast and see just how good it tastes. Walk places without headphones. Take time to stop and look at the sights on a walk. You don’t need to do this all the time, but taking that time to just be, to just enjoy something that you’re doing fully, not led astray by distractions makes an experience so much richer.
Again, you’re training your brain here. You’re training it to concentrate, to feel things fully, to take information in one piece at a time and to really process it.
Suggested: 6 Simple Tricks to Help Improve Your Focus
Control the controllables and accept the un-s
This is one of the best ways to learn how to slow down. We frequently overfill our plates. We do need to take responsibility and make the most of the opportunities given to us, but there are some things we just can’t control.
When you realise which things are in your control, and accept that some things never will be (again, your faith can really help you out with letting go here), you’ll get better at spending your time and energy productively and worrying a lot less. When you trust that the universe has your back, that you’re doing what you can and that there’s nothing more you could be doing, you’ll find yourself a lot more comfortable.
You might even find yourself doing the same things day-to-day, just without that overbearing worry hanging over your shoulder.
Speaking of controllables, know that there are practical things you can do here too. Design a routine that helps you make the most of your time. Meal prep in advance, get in the habit of sticking to routines, have bedtime habits that set you up for the following day.
Try a meditative hobby
This doesn’t have to be a cross-legged, singing ‘om’ kind of hobby, nor does it have to be anything even closely related to meditation (although I will always, always vouch for the benefits of yoga), it can be anything that helps you feel peaceful.
Even if it’s just reading for ten minutes in the morning, taking time for actions like this will help you feel like you life is more allowing, that your schedule does have time for you and the things you love. The more you allow these things, the more pockets of time you’ll discover.
It can be helpful to think back to when you were a kid. What did you get lost in? What did you do for the pure joy of it? Those, if they still spark your interest, are likely hobbies that will help meditate.
Suggested: Finding New Hobbies: My Ultimate Guide
When you find peace and calm within yourself, everything around you becomes calm and peaceful too. Often the worries and fears we have project themselves onto our outside world, making every shadow a lot spookier than it really is. You can find that peace, it’s just a matter of training your mind on how to slow down. I hope this helps.
Enjoy every second. Love, Ella-Rose xx