Last weekend I went to the bank. I didn’t just go through the drive-thru this time, I went in and waited in line. I know, it was a radical act of patience.
While I was waiting to do my banking, I tried an experiment. Rather than being attached to my phone, I just paid attention to what was going on with my body.
I noticed that my body was swaying back and forth, just a little. At first it was a little eerie, like the feeling you get when you stop at a set of lights on a bridge and you realize that the bridge you are on is moving, ever so slightly, with the weight of the traffic.
It slowly dawned on me that my body was constantly in motion. In reality, each of our bodies are constantly in motion, responding to forces of gravity, energy, emotion, equilibrium and even self-identity.
I watched the other people in the line and the bank tellers. Everyone was moving, adjusting, flinching and tilting.
Our planet never stops moving. Our cells vibrate on a cellular level. Our brains are constantly working to maintain, repair or to create neural connections. Our bodies are an extension of this movement.
Our natural world is in movement, but when we ignore our need to regularly stop moving, we become sick. I know, it’s ironic. You would think that having a busy world where things never stop would be natural, healthy. But it is not.
“Slow is fast.” “Life” (the movie)
Recovery means learning that slow is fast… it is the fastest way to feeling better, feeling like you are yourself again and feeling like you have a way to find a little peace.
Recovery is learning to slow down… or more correctly, it is learning when to slow yourself down.
Recovery means learning to pay attention… and when you pay attention, it will pay you back.
“Are we able to stop what we are doing long enough to see where we are?” Barbara Brown Taylor
A part of you will always want to go fast, but much of what drives this feeling is little more than anxiety, expectation, and reaction. We are busy, hurrying and rushing. We expect, we feel anxious, we react and we over-react.
Recovery does not mean that we no longer feel anxious, no longer have expectations or never react. It just means that you allow yourself to wake up. Something as simple as waiting in line can wake you up. Your body never stops moving, but that doesn’t mean that you are defined only by what you do.
“You always think that other people have things together and you are the only disaster in the room.” Fantastic Beasts
Slowing down can change how you work. How you lead and direct your business. How you treat your body, how you treat other people. How you treat your customers and how they treat you. Going slow is one of the greatest advantages. And we often ignore it.
I am often surprised by what I hear when I slow down long enough to listen. I am learning to pay attention to my tendency to rush things. To my mind that can sometimes be an unfriendly place. To the voice that tells me that I am somehow more screwed up, and less capable than everyone else.
Can you stop and pay attention? Sure you can, all you have to do is breathe.
Go ahead, try it right now. Then pay attention. To your physical body. Your heart. To your stomach. And to your mind and what is happening in there.
What keeps you moving so fast? What drives you to move, react and to hurry? It might feel frightening, but noticing that part of you can be a huge step of acceptance.
When you take time to pay attention, it has the power to change you.
“Changing your rhythm can allow new things to happen.” Hayes, Strosahl and Wilson (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)
If you enjoyed this article, I invite you to read some of my other writing:
I write articles that talk about the kind of changes I am trying to make in my own life. I hope that my writing also helps you. My topics include addiction and mental health recovery, relationships, and personal growth. I work as an Addiction Therapist, an Editor for the Good Men Project and freelance writer, and Adjunct Professor at City University, Edmonton. But what is most important is that I have a family and I am in recovery from depression and anxiety. My mental health experiences are part of my personal University degree, but they do not define me.
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Keep it Real
Photos by Thomas Edwards