It may seem like a paradox, but when you want to get more done, you need to slow down.
Martin Luther King Jr. used to meditate for an hour every day. If there was something really important happening, he’d meditate for two!
When our mind is racing and our thoughts become obsessive, we can feel exhausted before we’ve even gotten out of bed. Our anxious brain tells us we have to get moving, things really need to get done, and if we hurry, we can fit it all in! So off we go, focusing on our next task before we’ve even completed our first one. And heaven forbid anyone try to stop us for conversation! Though we’d like to chat, we really don’t have time to spare right now…
Does this sound familiar? I know it does to me. If there is one thought my mind likes to repeat over and over it’s, “I don’t have time”.
The interesting thing is my mind will tell me this even when it’s not true. Often, I really do have some time, or at least a few extra minutes. But I’d become so used to cramming every minute with a task that when I stopped and began slowing down, my body didn’t know how to respond.
So how do we turn off the treadmill?
We begin retraining our nervous system to feel what it’s like to have time. We start leaving space where we’d normally fill it. We practice what it actually feels like to slow down.
Whether it’s driving to an appointment, stopping to eat lunch, or doing an errand, give yourself permission to just be at rest with what you’re doing – even if you have to pretend it’s okay to do so. (I call this, “healthy denial”:)
Learning to slow down means we start putting our peace of mind ahead of anything else. This doesn’t mean we become irresponsible, it simply means we become aware of our state of mind and daringly choose sanity over the pressured feelings of “have to” or “should”.
When we do so, we will actually perform better at whatever task we’re doing. Why? Because we’ve changed the energy and raised the vibration to a higher, more positive state.
It’s not easy to retrain the mind. It’s why the first stage of my program is called the “Undoing”, and why I spend so much time on this portion. The Undoing can seem to go against everything we think is true, and yet, when we break free of it, we’re actually surprised to find that things turn out okay, and we are a lot happier.
Just for today, try telling yourself you have plenty of time and that you’ll be okay. Try pulling your mind off your next task and put your full self in this one. Begin to notice the freedom you feel and the expansiveness that goes along with being present with where you are, doing what you are doing.
It’s a simple tool, but it takes practice. Lots of it!! (Except maybe if you’re the Dali Lama…:)
So do what you need to do, focus on the task you are doing, and don’t be surprised when you find yourself stopping to make polite conversation just because you feel good.
If you’d like other tools for getting out of overwhelm, check out these: