The Power of Slow

There’s not enough time’. A common perception. Can you relate? When I felt overwhelmed on Saturday morning and chose to slow down for a yoga practice instead of hurtling into my day I realised on my mat that this was my problem. Not the lack of time, but my belief that I didn’t have enough time. The thought ‘there isn’t enough time’ is the problem. Because there is really only one problem, unhappiness. If you’re happy, tuned into your innate bliss, then there are no problems, Only opportunities, adventures, and experiences.

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Cats don’t hurry, they’re natural masters of taking life one nap at a time.

But our bliss so often gets blocked by unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. It occurred to me on Saturday that this ‘not enough time’ perspective is in fact my default modus operandi. I’m always focused on ‘the next thing’ I need to do. I always feel slightly behind, hurried and rushed because I want to get so much done. This creates a subtle level of stress and anxiety. But why am I rushing to do more at the cost of enjoying less? What’s the point of doing anything if your mind is constantly at the next thing and you’re unable to enjoy the present moment?

Yoga teaches us to challenge and face down anything that blocks the experience of our true nature which is ananda, bliss. In this particular situation, I realised that my belief that I didn’t have enough time was blocking my bliss. So what if I turned it on its head? Believed the opposite? What if I consciously switched the narrative in my head to ‘I have all the time in the world’, ‘there’s a time for everything I want and need to do.’ Wow. Suddenly everything feels more spacious, more easeful. How joyful. We might still have the same amount of things to do. We may still do the same amount, or more, or less, but, crucially, we can shift the way we feel and experience life and hit those things with a sense of joy.  We can weed out unhelpful thoughts and plant new ones. How powerful is that? We get to write our own story.

What’s your modus operandi? What unchallenged thoughts and beliefs are limiting your joy right now? Can you reframe the story, believe the opposite? Unleash the joy!

If you need to shift your relationship to time like me then here are my…

Practical yoga tips to slow down time

Uni-task

I’m terrible for multitasking to the point of only getting 10% out of each thing I’m doing. I dread to think how many podcasts I’ve ‘listened’ to while checking social media and eating, and probably a few other things thrown in for good measure.

Multitasking is like junk food, it leaves us hungry for one solid bit of nutrition, one fully presenced experience.

I need to work on this one. A lot. I want to work on this. Part of my insight from this weekend is that I want to enjoy more, which means doing one thing at a time. Because I value enjoying life more than ticking stuff off a list. And trust me, I love ticking things off lists, that’s why it’s taken me so long to realise the power of slowing down.

Use a mantra

Never underestimate the power of a few choice words dropped in at the right moment. When it feels like the world is hitting you like a torrent of water quickly erect a mental dam with a mantra.

Here are a few I’ve been using to slow down time when it all gets too much:

I have all the time in the world

There is time for everything

Nothing is mandatory, except being nice

The universe is expanding. My life is unfolding. It’s all happening

I’m here now, I’ll be there later

I’m allowed to take it easy

Instead of ‘I have to _____’ switch to ‘I get to ______’
(I find this one really switches on a childlike excitement for even the most mundane tasks)

I’m not overwhelmed. I’m saturated with possibilities.

Fortunately, ___________ is not required for happiness.

Savasana – Sacred Relaxation

We absolutely have to balance all the doing with non-doing to avoid overwhelm. And you don’t get more non-doing than dead. Savasana, or corpse pose, is yoga’s antidote to the stresses and general speediness of daily life. Savasana is the simple (and practically full-on rebellious) act of lying down and being still. Doing nothing.

The four key ingredients to accelerate your relaxation in Savasana:

  • Stillness – outer stillness is the beginning of our journey to inner stillness, resist any temptation to fidget , resist!
  • jaspereyes
    You really want to cover your precious eyes for optimum relaxation – cats know all about this, what with being masters of relaxation!

    Darkness – covering the eyes adds considerable depth to the relaxation, an eyebag is ideal as the weight of this adds gentle pressure around the eyes which helps release tension commonly held in the eye muscles

  • Quiet – use earplugs if you’re somewhere noisy. If you can’t get the sort of quiet you’d like then just accept whatever you can get. Other people don’t have to be quiet for you to find quietness inside, practice surrendering to what is, don’t look for excuses to not relax!
  • minkywarm
    My furry guru demonstrating how to stay warm while deeply relaxing.

    Warmth – wrap up warm and cover yourself over with a blanket, you’ll cool down quickly as you lay completely still and you don’t want this to be a distraction.

 

Cooking instructions, or ‘how to practice’:

Either use a yoga mat for padding or find a spot of soft carpet to lie on.
Lie down on the floor with your spine straight and your body as symmetrical as possible (this helps to reduce distractions to your brain)
Let your feet roll out, have arms out about 45 degrees aways from the body, palms facing upwards (the palms have many nerve endings and are one of the most sensitive parts of the body, we’re intentionally decreasing the number of signals getting to the brain here)
Be still – no fidgeting!
Ask yourself can I get softer in my brain, my eyes, my heart?
Let go of all expectations.

Gather the four ingredients, follow the instructions above, cook for 20 minutes.

You can stay longer of course, but 20 minutes is a good minimum time to really sink into relaxation and experience the benefits.

You might find that your mind is anything but still here. It might look more like a pan of boiling water, with all sorts bubbling up vigorously to the surface. Perfect! That there is decompression. You’re literally letting off steam and purifying your mind by the simple act of lying back and doing nothing.

If you fall asleep, you’re sleep deprived, do some radical self-care and go to bed early.

If you’ve been thinking about starting a home yoga practice or a meditation practice then savasana is a great place to start. Savasana is a practice of pratyahara (sense withdrawal) which is the precursor to dharana (concentration) and dhyana (meditation).

A CHALLENGE (i.e. a way to frame savasana within the ‘doing’ framework we love so much)

I double dare you to a 21-day savasana challenge: 20 minutes of savasana, for 21 days.

I’m half way through my savasana challenge and I’m already experiencing the power of slow.

Let me know how you get on!

Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.