Friday, March 12, 2010

Go Slowly

People in countries driven by technology tend to move at mach nine speed. Cars, airplanes, cell phones, computers and internet access allow us to move fast from place to place, process large amounts of information with amazing speed and communicate long distances no matter what we are doing.

But what is the true cost of the ease and speed at which we move? Do we become desensitized to the less obvious details that only become noticeable when we take time to slow down? Do we lose touch with our inner feelings and emotions? Are we missing some of the most important things in life without even realizing it?

In rural Nepal where there are no cars, computers or cell phones, people bid farewell by saying, "Go slowly". They do not have the resources that can make things happen fast. People often carry heavy loads on their backs making it difficult to go quickly. Footing can be difficult on the rocky trails and many Nepalis walk barefoot or in minimal footwear. But this cultivates a sense of patience and awareness of each step that is very different from our lifestyles. Their physical lifestyle is more difficult than ours, but their level of stress is much lower.

Although many Nepalis do not have the resources to move with speed, we do have the choice to slow down and "smell the roses". It may not feel like it because there are often so many pressures, so many responsibilities, so many opportunities. But so often we kid ourselves with how important our "to do" list is. The fact is stress causes many physical, emotional and mental problems.

If we practice yoga with a sense of impatience going from pose to pose just to keep moving quickly, we miss out on many of the benefits that are available through yoga. Moving too quickly can make us insensitive. We may never learn how to bring our bodies into optimal alignment. It is possible to injure ourselves by going too far in a pose when our bodies are not ready for it. On the other hand we may never experience how deep we can go in a pose when we are ready.

Instead of trying to do everything as quickly as possible and piling up a list of accomplishments, take time to savor the smile of a stranger, the song of a bird, the smell of the fresh rain. Slow down enough to think about what is really important amid all of the chaos. Set your priorities on spending time on the things that bring you the most joy instead of the most money or fame. It is the small things, easily overlooked, that often bring us our deepest peace and serenity.

1 comment: