On Slowing Down

This is the second part of a piece reflecting on time. Wasting Time explored the link between values of achievement and the need to be busy, rushing and filling time.

Slowing down time is about developing our capacity to be still, find pauses, value moments and appreciate time by being present; being in time not working against it.

Slowing down time is about slowing ourselves down.

We can create a sense of time and space for ourselves; only through deliberate choices about our relationship with time.

Manage time by saying no to an unnecessary sense of obligation. Be mindful and realistic about what we chose to juggle in relation to the responsibilities we take on. Prioritise what we need and want to do with our time.

Slow time is essential to our capacity to manage and balance the effects of modern life; increasingly reflecting cultural values of rapidity, efficiency and immediacy.

If this need to slow down isn’t addressed, often it is created through a crisis; a burn out, a sickness; a stop.

Slow time is the unknown time, undefined; the space in between A and B.The time between what we have now and what we don’t know, when we transition across life changes; between one state or place and the next. There is always movement but we tend towards pushing forwards, speeding up, wanting to get to B, to know B.

My relationship with time started changing through experiencing a number of concurrent life events that slowed me down. I see this in clients. Often a result of stress through managing, or not managing, time pressure. And it is only here at the point of crisis, that we begin to evaluate our relationship with time; life style and work balance, and so to re-evaluate our values.

Life events often force us to respond only to what is happening right now. We don’t have the choice. It is here we have to reconfigure, re-shape, as we are knocked off the presumptive path by pause. We have to let go of where we thought we were headed and how quickly.

In processing the effects of my life events, I didn’t feel equipped to live life at the same pace. I had different energy and capacity and I didn’t have a clear direction. It’s then I deliberately shifted my attention to time. I started to be more mindful of the present as the future seemed harder to envision. My parameters altered. Living more in the moment, day by day, meant less pressure about the long term unanswerable and more appreciation of the current and the potential of slow movement, even though slow seemed cumbersome.

How do we manage being slowed down or stopped by enforced interruptions? We can realise the opportunity to re-calibrate our relationship with time in the interval.

This time in between the known and the unknown showed me being, rather than doing. Trusting rather than pushing. Until I accepted that travel, progress, was not about speed, I was frustrated.

Slowing down time is also about choosing the speed we travel.

The faster we travel the less quality time has. But we don’t get to our destination unless we stop. A singular linear relationship to any goal creates the pressure of speed and can also reduce the quality of time inbetween.

I have a tendency to drive fast. I enjoy the experience of speed. One day a friend and I were driving in convoy. He was a steady driver, I was over-taking, accelerating whenever I could. We got to our destination at the same time. It got me thinking, what’s my rush? What’s the point of being fast, if it gets you to the same place at the same time? On further reflection I realised I wasn’t really connected with my body or the car. Driving was about getting from A-B the fastest way through creating an experience of speed. But habitual patterns meant I did this almost unconsciously.

Once we become aware of our behaviour and mind-set around time we can change the experience of time.

I now acknowledge that I’m in between A-B and I will get there when I get there, I don’t need to drive fast at it. I will chose to drive the winding, slow way home on occasion which affords me more time to absorb the landscape I am lucky to live in. I’ve altered my habitual pattern through becoming more aware.

It doesn’t mean I don’t chose to drive fast sometimes.