Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow Down

Our culture moves fast. Fast foods, fast cars, fast sex, fast Internet access. Speed is killing us! The average TV show moves between shots every three to six seconds to keep us engaged.

Dr. Daniel Siegel, author of The Mindful Brain and a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA Medical School found that multitasking can release stress hormones and adrenaline into our systems. In addition, when we try to do too much at once, our brain “doesn’t have the time to make the neural connections in the cortex humanitatis—the part of the brain that makes us civilized creatures.”

We experience greater peace when we slow down and enjoy the journey. Inspiration comes best in solitude. My life has been transformed during times of gentle reflection. I came to know God walking to school and praying for guidance. I have never experienced greater love. I decided the best major for me, whom I should marry, and my life’s path during times of quiet reflection.

So how do we slow down in a fast-paced world? Here are a few suggestions:

• Ask yourself, “Will this really matter in 100 years?” This question makes in so much easier to prioritize. For me, next to my love for God, loving relationships with family and friends matter most, so I make them a priority. It then becomes easier to decide between two attractive choices.

• Take time to worship. Whatever your religious beliefs are, take time each day to access a Higher Power. Ask Him to guide you in paths of peace and to help you carry your burdens. I know God hears and answers all of our prayers, although sometimes He responds in unexpected ways. As we place our lives in His hands, He blesses us in ways that we cannot anticipate.

• If you must choose between fear and love, choose love. Choose to honor your marriage covenants even when the world glamorizes infidelity. Choose to be a survivor and not a victim when life is unfair. Choose to release your worries to a loving Creator and enjoy the gifts of each moment. Our minds are powerful tools. We can choose love.

• Move a little slower. Eat more deliberately, savoring each bite. Walk more slowly, enjoying the beautiful scenery that delights our senses. Speak a little slower, pondering each word spoken and heard. Remember the Simon and Garfunkle song, “Slow down, you move too fast.”

• Learn how to meditate and enjoy the bliss of mindfulness. It was transform your life!

• Simplify your life. Can you spend less of your time on things that matter least and devote more time to things that matter more? Can you delegate, eliminate, or consolidate some chores so that you can spend more quality time with those you love?

Today I heard the story of a grandfather who stood by the window with his young grandson and reflected upon choices that he has made in his life. That moment of quiet contemplation changed the grandfather’s life. He realized that he had made and was making choices that were not strengthening his marriage and family. He suddenly understood that he needed to make some significant changes in his lifestyle and habits so that he could experience greater peace, harmony and love in his home.

The grandfather changed. He now serves others in significant ways and has discovered God’s personal love for him in ways he had never known before in his life. One moment of simple meditation transformed this man’s life. He can do the same for you and for me.

Start today.

Remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi, one of my favorite sages, “There is more to life than increasing its speed."

© Carol Brown

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