Monday, May 2, 2011

life lessons: slowing down

I love all the little unexpected lessons in life. We go about our days, doing what we do, and then BAM! Lesson.


I had just started a new yoga class when a lesson hit me like whoa. This class was slower than I was used to, which was good because it gave me time to really feel what my body was doing and learn the poses more thoroughly (don't be fooled, though- I was definitely breaking a serious sweat.) About ten minutes before the end of the class we started cooling down, and the instructor told us to lie down and completely relax our muscles. And then...nothing. We just kept lying there. Doing nothing. Breathing. Probably no more than a minute into this disturbing repose, I started thinking.

It feels like we've been doing this for a really long time. How long are we going to lie here? Did she leave the room? What's going on?

After a while I finally was able to strong-arm myself into relaxation. After we all sat up and namaste'ed I looked at the clock. It had only been five minutes.

This made me wonder. Why is it so hard for me to just lie still for five minutes? What about my life is so urgent that I can't relax and release tension for a measly five minutes?

Danielle over at Sometimes Sweet recently expressed a similar sentiment when she wrote about the value of "unplugging" from social media. I feel that we as Americans have become so used to constant over-stimulation that we have difficulty slowing down and enjoying simple things. It's like food: if all you eat is chemically processed, MSG-laden "food products", then it is unlikely that you will be able to appreciate real, natural, healthy foods. Similarly, if all we experience is television, twitter, flashing lights, garbled noises, and instant gratification, how can we expect to recognize the small moments of natural awe?

So, for the past few weeks I have really concentrated on slowing down and experiencing my life instead of just trying to get through it. I have tried to actually enjoy moments of nothing instead of becoming bored and apathetic. I've been able to focus more on specific tasks, like reading and doing housework, and have been in a much more consistently positive mood (no more road rage! amazing!)

This has made a significant positive difference in my day-to-day happiness. It is a beautiful thing.

Sorry this post was so long, I've just wanted to get this off my chest. Being generally happy is still kind of a new thing for me, so I'm pretty much bursting at the seams with the novelty of it all. Has anyone else experienced this sort of realization? How do you slow down and enjoy the little moments in life?


  1. I could probably write just as long of a reply, but instead I'm going to say cheers. All of life is a learning experience, and we never truly stop growing and learning (about ourselves & others). I just finished reading Eat, Pray, Love a few weeks ago, and the book had a surprisingly profound impact on my outlook - which was already rapidly changing. It sounds like we are in somewhat similar places, despite the different ways of getting there. I love it.

  2. "strong arm myself into relaxation" - I like that. I have to do that pretty regularly; I'm glad I'm not the only one!

  3. Sarah Von - Pretty much every day at some point I have to tell myself, "Chill out, Johnson!" It seems pretty silly that it is a daily battle just to relax every now and then. Why is tension so much a part of our daily lives!?