Last week I was driving through my town, heading toward an appointment. I had nearly an hour to get there, yet I found myself willing the cars in front of me to move faster, hurry up, let's go!
I stopped myself and asked why. Why am I in such a hurry to get somewhere I don't even need to be right now?
Now that the holidays are winding down, think about it: How much did we actually enjoy time spent at the party or baking the cookies or wrapping the presents? Or were we simply rushing through to get to the next engagement?
While we're speeding along, life is moving just as fast. An eye blinks and the kids are grown; a finger snaps and the wrinkles appear.
Maybe now we can resolve to slow down. Smell the roses while they're still in the ground, feel the cool air or warmth of the sun. Try being completely present at each and every party, each and every moment. Linger over that kiss, taste the food we prepare, feel the hugs we give and get.
It all sounds wonderful in theory, but it's difficult in practice. So we may overwhelm ourselves in our efforts to slow down. Be compassionate with yourself and allow for adaptation. Let go of expectation and pressure. Try these simple, small steps adapted from Ayurvedic practices to nurture yourself. Try each new thing until it becomes part of who you are, until rushing no longer makes sense.
• Rise 10 or 15 minutes earlier. Watch the sunrise, or drink a cup of herbal tea. Bring meditation into your daily life to ease a busy mind and let go of negativity, or practice yoga to get your energy flowing.
• Breathe slowly and deeply for 10 to 15 breaths. This will encourage circulation, release toxicity and enliven the mind. Repeat any time you feel rushed or stressed.
• Replace one food that no longer truly serves you with one that is healthy and nourishing. Do this for one week, then replace another, then another.
• Reserve one room, or a corner of a room, as your sanctuary. Keep the space clean, neat and serene. Remove clutter, dust or distraction. Spend 10 or 15 minutes daily in this space (maybe your morning time) in quiet thought or journaling. If possible, remove clocks so your focus isn't all on time.
• Eat a hearty lunch — try warm soups in winter or cool green salads in summer. Enjoy your meal without TV or reading. Taste, sip and tend to yourself and your body's needs.
• Eat a light early dinner. Give your body the time it needs to clear the channels and energize.
• In the evening, stretch to lengthen tired muscles and relax an overworked brain. Try the Cow and Cat Stretch: Kneel on all fours, arching the back, looking up toward the sky and lifting the tailbone as you inhale deeply. As you exhale, tuck the tailbone, drop the head and round the spine like a cat. Continue for five slow breaths.
• Before bed, dip the corner of a washcloth in sesame or almond oil, and slowly massage your face using circular movements. Shower afterward or sleep with the oil on your skin, letting it soften and moisturize.
We often use the phrase "take time," yet time is an illusion manufactured by man. Your moment is right in front of you; life is happening right now. Instead of taking time, try forgetting time.
As I continued to drive that hurried morning, I slowed down enough to notice the birds flying overhead and clouds drifting across the sky, changing shape and color. I was aware, and in that moment, time stopped.
Diana Reed is a Hernando County yoga instructor. Her website is dianareed.net.