Live for a while in our turbo-charged, multi-tasking, drive-through, microwaved, instant-access, act-now-offer-ends-soon world and it will seem that full-on, super-fast is the only speed worth talking about. We love instant gratification and super efficiency and getting’ ‘er done. It’s no wonder: fast is fun and dramatic and exhilarating.
But actually, slow is the speed where the good stuff is happening. Slow like honey.
A friend told me of the first time she went to a Nascar race. She hadn’t wanted to go. She thought it would be boring. But it wasn’t. She loved it. The speed, Susan, she said. The speed was hypnotic, intoxicating, I couldn’t get enough.
Speed is like that. It’s a rush and a high…and speed is deceptive. Debby Rosas, one of the co-founders of The Nia Technique says, Speed is the illusion of mastery.
And it’s true: do something fast and you’re likely to skip over the nuances, leave out the details, pay more attention to how fast you’re doing it rather than what you’re actually doing.
Tai Chi is one of the Nine Movement forms that sets the energetic foundation of Nia. Years ago, my t’ai chi teacher, Hiromi Johnson explained that historically, martial artists learned fighting movements slowly — training their muscles, their minds and their nervous systems with precision — before they could deliver those movements with speed.
Slow like honey is a powerful practice in your body, mind, emotions, and spirit.
Body. Walk across the room at a normal speed and then walk again and half speed. Notice what part of your foot touches the ground first. Notice the tiny movements happening in your ankles and lower legs. Notice the push off your back foot. Slowing it down gives time to pay attention and respond to what’s happening.
Mind. I’m in the process of building a web site and it is a mind-bender and a half. Most of the time, I don’t know what I’m doing and not the first thing about how to solve the long string of problems that come up. When things are really confusing and I don’t know what to do next, the best thing I can do is stop, slow down, take a breath, even walk (slowly) away from the computer (as much as I want to throw the godforsaken thing out the window). My mind somehow gets off the manic crazy gerbil wheel and always gives me a next step on the path.
Emotions. When I feel the heat of anger or the twist of frustration, slowing myself down is one of the most skillful things I can do. Stop. Take a breath. Check out what’s happening in my body. Respond instead of react. Emotional wisdom never comes in lashing out. Slowing down is also a great practice for positive, joyful situations. When you’re feeling happy or excited, slow down your breath, soften your eyes and truly let in what is happening. Slow down the handshake. Slow down the hug. And by all means, slow down the kiss.
Spirit. Inspiration can come in a rush but the process of creating benefits from making space, slowing down and letting the next inspiration flow in. I notice this when I’m writing and drawing, in particular. I may think I know where a piece is going but when I stop, and slow down the process, often better ideas and directions pop in.
Build the strength of slow. True mastery is in slowing down.