From an early age, I was always one of those people who rushed around trying to get everything done as quickly as possible, running from one place to the next and not really taking in much else around, me; having tunnel vision so to speak. In today’s busy society it seems that it’s ingrained in us to always be seen to be busy, to always be ‘doing’ something. However, it has been proven over the years by many people that this constant need to be busy is in fact counter-productive… “More haste less speed” as the old proverb, and my Mum would say- ie. the faster you try to do something, the more likely you are to make mistakes…which ultimately means it takes you longer than if you had slowed down and took your time doing said thing. But why it is it so important to slow down?
I listened to a wonderful Ted talk the other day (The Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore) which said that “in an age of constant distractions, nothing is more important than paying attention”. I completely agree, and it is only when we slow down that we can fully take in what is going on around us. The irony is that when we’re so caught up in having to do everything quickly and speeding up our life, we fail to pay attention to the negative effect that this speediness is having on us; our health, our diet, our work. If we slow things down a little and take our finger off the fast forward button, we can then become more aware of these effects, and ultimately take steps to rectify them.
When I say slow down, I don’t necessarily mean take forever to do job that could take one hour to do, or lay around in bed all day being lazy and unproductive, I think we can all agree that that’s not going to get your far in life. What I do mean is to take the time to appreciate life, slow down and smell the roses, be aware of where you are and what you’re doing, rather than constantly rushing from one place to the next.
I can use my own experience in life as proof that slowing down does contribute to making you more successful, happier and calmer. I studied and worked in law for 9 years from the age of 17 to 26 because it was what I thought I had wanted to do with my life. Throughout this time, I was aware of the niggling thought in the back of my mind telling me that I wanted something different, but throughout all of this time I never actually took the opportunity to sit still, calm my mind and listen to this niggling thought, to work out what it was I actually wanted to do. It was only when I began to meditate, that my thoughts calmed down. When this happened, I stopped rushing around constantly, took time to realise what it was I actually wanted to do and began making plans to make this happen. If we are constantly in a rush all of the time this, stop, think and plan system just doesn’t work- there’s no time for it (oh the irony!).
In the same way as our lifestyle, our mind is also constantly on the go, always thinking, planning, analysing, worrying, remembering etc, and when we are in this state of busyness ourselves, our mind never gets chance to rest either. However, by practicing meditation, we change our mind and ourselves from ‘doing’ mode to ‘being’ mode; we give ourselves and our minds a chance to just be still, to reflect and find calmness in the chaos of the world all around us. By simply being we can re-charge our batteries and re-set our speed to a pace where we can enjoy life and take things step by step, achieving the best results.
Since starting a daily meditation practice, my outlook on life has completely changed and I now realise just how counter-productive this constant need to be busy all the time is. I have come to understand the importance of being still and through being still I have learned that life is so much more enjoyable and so much more is achieved by simply slowing down your pace. There is always time to do what you need to do… don’t exhaust yourself by trying to get it all down at once. I’ve also learned that the best things in life cannot be achieved if you rush them!