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Can’t slow down? Try going faster.

By Elijah Bedrosian - 03/26/2020

 

I often move fast because I have things to do, places to be, dreams to achieve. As I move faster, at a certain point my effectiveness reduces. The quality of my efforts go down. I need to slow down to be more grounded, settled, and to make better decisions. So why is it so tough to slow down from going fast?

Transitioning from one speed to another in and of itself can be hard (i.e. getting out of bed in the morning, coming down after an exciting game, etc.). There can also be a compulsive or addictive quality to being busy, going fast, feeling like you are being productive. Much of American culture is about doing, and doing more. There can be a “high” associated with doing. The habit of doing becomes even more ingrained if you grew up in a family culture and or are in a work culture that champions productivity or achievement.

When I try to go from a fast pace to a slower one, it can feel irritating, annoying, like I am wasting time. I believe in mindfulness, not as a buzzword, but as a state that is useful to access. I am able to do this to varying degrees throughout my day. It helps to become more aware, and when I am more aware I am closer with my intuitive side. But when I am going fast and I think of slowing down, I just want to hurry up and slow down to get that out of the way. That approach has not worked all that well for me.

What has worked is using movement as a way to more gradually settle and be more tuned into myself and my surroundings. It starts with awareness. Can I be aware of the pace I have been going? If so, I have the chance to do something differently. Mindfulness is about attention; where am I placing my attention?

When I awaken to the moment, and find that I am racing, I have options. I can actively slow down, become aware of my breath, become aware of my movements. When I have struggled with slowing down, I have often continued the same pace while noticing my breath, noticing my movement, paying attention to the 5 senses. From this place I can gradually taper my speed to settle back into my body, back into the moment. Having a regular and frequent practice of mindfulness (with movement or being still) helps with being able to settle in this way. My mind is more apt to go back to a more mindful state if it is a recent and familiar mind space.

If I am struggling with slowing down, there are times I have sped up. Sometimes it is ok to just get the energy out and move fast. Once I have done that, I have noticed that my awareness is pretty thin at those higher speeds, and I am usually able to begin to slow gradually. This can be done through walking, art work, writing or other kinds of movement.

Self-regulation is largely about awareness. I believe in anchoring to the present moment through awareness of normal breath (not deep breathing necessarily), and through movement as needed. From this place of awareness, movement of different types and speeds can be used to come to a more settled place.

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