What Is Slow Living (and How To Embrace It)

You might wonder what slow living is and how it might benefit you. The idea of slow living or living with more intention could be likened to peeling off the layers of an onion or slowly unravelling a ball of yarn. In a practical sense, it might look like supporting ethical and sustainable brands, reducing your ecological impact and approaching life in a calm and considered way.

When you step out of the busyness of life, even for a brief moment, you enter a space that allows observation or presence, rather than just merely catching a glimpse as the world blurs by like a car on the highway. A kaleidoscope of colours, sights and sounds.

Slow living is about cultivating slowness

It might start with something so simple, as you sit and drink your morning coffee, two hands wrapped around a mug, you notice the warmth that makes its way through the vessel and into your palms.

For a brief moment, you tune in to the sound of birdsong, a clock ticking, the humming of the fridge and cars in the distance as the world begins to come to life.

Say you are surfing. Focus on the cold water streaming on your skin, the sound of the waves breaking or the quietness in the lineup.

Or say you are surfing. Focus on the cold water streaming on your skin, the sound of the waves breaking or the quietness in the lineup. It is these little ‘in-between’ moments of ‘being’ rather than ‘doing’ that the awareness of your surroundings and yourself are free to emerge.

Who are you without a schedule, a persona, or a life driven by influence as opposed to intuition?

When you make space for the things you enjoy and allow yourself more moments of ‘flow’ instead of being reactive to your current environment or circumstances, life begins to unfold in a more coherent way, and synchronicities arise.

So how do we move from a state of ‘busy’ to a state of flow and learn how to slow down in life? In other words, how do we embrace slow living?

First, notice the little things

Sometimes life offers gentle reminders or gestures to encourage us to slow down and consider our path and how we are moving forward. A sore back, a gut feeling about something or a small mistake from which you learn something new.

Other times life forgoes the niceties and comes at you with all guns blazing in the form of chaotic life events that stop you in your tracks and force you to stop and pay attention.

It seems to me there are two ways to learn and grow whilst navigating our life path. The former being an intuitively lead course of action and a more subtle approach where you take the time to consider the bigger picture and follow the path that feels right. The latter being a reactive and sometimes painful way to either grow or continue around in circles.

Do your immediate surroundings connect you to a sense of freedom and inspiration, or do they contribute to feelings of overwhelm and disharmony?

Noticing the little things and beginning to create a life with more intention can be as easy as sitting at home and quietly observing what surrounds you.

When you look at the items in your home, how do they make you feel? Do they tell a story about your life or reflect your values? What materials or fibres are present? Where did items come from? Are they mass produced or hand made?

Extend this observation to the other rooms in your house, your bathroom cupboard, your wardrobe, the food in your pantry and fridge…

As you make your way around your home, you begin to create a profile. You begin to see how you fit into the present situation. Do your immediate surroundings connect you to a sense of freedom and inspiration, or do they contribute to feelings of overwhelm and disharmony?

Slow living allows you to step into what you want

Reflection and observation are quite easily done. But determining what it is you truly want can take some time. For example, do you like where you are? Do you connect with the environment and objects that surround you? Do you enjoy how you spend your time and the people you spend your time with?

When purchasing or supporting things like clothing brands, food, and household items, do you feel aligned and happy with your choices? When you consider the bigger picture of how everything is connected and the impact everything has on the earth, are your lifestyle and choices sustainable?

Once you begin to determine your values and what you want your life to encompass, you can closer look at what makes up each day or week. You can understand how much of your time you are freely spending on things that bring you joy. From daily habits, relationships, work and family commitments, each area forms a piece of the puzzle to a slower and more connected life.

While you may not be doing exactly what you love right now, you can identify how much time per day you can set aside to spend working towards your dream goal.

In a practical world, there is no doubt we all need to pay bills and earn an income to support ourselves and our families. While you may not be doing exactly what you love right now, you can identify how much time per day you can set aside to spend working towards your dream goal.

Whether it is part-time study or immersing yourself in creative workshops on the weekend, setting aside a few minutes per day to write a daily rhythm or to-do list, connecting with people who you would like to work alongside in the future, or simply making space for stillness so you can gain insight to what it is you truly want. Little consistent steps are the key to cultivating a life with more intention.

Keep in mind that time management, organisation and being realistic with your expectations are key elements when it comes to cultivating a life in the slow lane.

Trying to pack in a million different things into a day, or setting yourself unrealistic deadlines or outcomes are not beneficial in setting yourself up for a more peaceful ride.

Surrender every day

Our minds are creatures of habit and will always veer down the well-beaten path. The one they have come to know. Even if that path isn’t really offering us anything worthwhile.

For example, scrolling through Instagram or Facebook is a great time filler, but how much value does it bring to your life? Are you using the time you do spend on social media to connect with like-minded people who inspire you or are you idly sitting by, watching other people’s highlight reels and dwelling on comparison?

Slow living is about surrendering every day, and accepting that life is unfolding before our eyes encourages us to feel a sense of freedom.

Creating new habits sometimes brings with it resistance to change, fear or self-doubt. Take a moment to acknowledge these thoughts, then actively create a new path for your neurons to travel down. This, in turn, will reshape your brain, your thoughts, your beliefs and your perception of yourself and the world.

Slow living is about surrendering every day, and accepting that life is unfolding before our eyes encourages us to feel a sense of freedom. While you can hope to orchestrate a life containing only the good moments, the practice of not being too attached to outcomes allows us to navigate the harder times with grace and acceptance. To go gently with purpose, kindness and love.

Slow down and enjoy the ride

Cultivating a life lived in slowness and intention is a journey. There are so many aspects that make up our lives, our impact and our contribution to humanity and the planet, which can all be explored and unveiled piece by piece.

You are already on the journey. It is not a future place, it is where you are right now. Slow down and enjoy the ride.

Jane Deane

Contributor

Jane is the Editor and Founder of the independent Australian magazine SLOW journal. She lives by the seaside on the East Coast of Australia with her husband and two young daughters. She spends her days writing, gardening, creating and always encouraging herself and others to embrace a slower lifestyle.

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