Slow Down Now
Why doing less, slowly might be the key to our future
I will admit it; I’m addicted to tabbed browsing. I don’t even want to think about going back to the days of only having one website open at a time. It’s simply a necessity for today’s successful multi-tasker.
I always have at least three web pages open. I can comfortably work with up to 12. I have worked with over twenty-something tabs open but I don’t recommend it. I also usually have three to four programs running as well such as Thunderbird, Microsoft Word, Adobe Photoshop and iTunes.
What would I do without all of these multi-tasking abilities the 21st century has bestowed upon me? I would probably do a lot less, a lot more slowly.
When you hear the word “slow”, how does it make you feel? Do you cringe and associate it with the pace of the elderly? Do you close your eyes and dream of how good it would feel to slow down?
I associate it with a turtle, especially the one in the fable of the tortoise and the hare. My thought process always seems to follow the story line. At first I think fast is better, of course the faster animal will win the race. More work equals more success. But the tortoise reminds us that speed isn’t what is needed to win. And that’s why the average American box turtle lives 123 years and the average rabbit or hare lives 10. The Galapagos land tortoise has an average lifespan of 193 years!
It’s really not about how long one lives though; it’s about what we do with the time we have, and all of the time we are guaranteed is now. Are you spending “now” in an activity that brings you stress, anxiety, fear, and worry? How many other things are you doing or supposed-to-be-doing while currently reading this article?
The Slow Movement
The Slow Movement is a grassroots international movement inviting the world to live at a pace that reduces stress, fosters community, and deepens personal connections. Our current fast-paced lifestyle has created a myriad of stress-related health problems, disconnected us from our neighbors, and often kept us strangers to the world around us.
Slow travel is just one aspect of the slow movement. It is where travelers vacation or volunteer their time in one spot for at least a week and learn about and experience the culture of that area. It’s like an immersion process. Slow travelers often participate in local and community activities. They shop at the local grocery store or farmer’s market and get to know the locals.
The slow food movement has been gaining recognition since its inception in the 1980s, although the process of growing, preparing, and consuming food is obviously nothing new. Slow food is food that is grown locally, organically, and cooked properly. It is the opposite of fast food. To eat slow food is to enjoy the entire process and cycle of food preparation and consumption. The slow food movement is meant to get people connected to the food they eat.
To eat locally grown food brings back accountability. When corporations become super human entities and no one person can stand up and take responsibility the organization loses integrity and accountability. Their number one goal becomes profit which usually conflicts with what’s best for us as the consumer.
Farmers take great pride in the food they produce and agriculturally supported communities live with a level of security and comfort knowing where their food comes from. The slow food movement challenges us to think about how our consumption choices affect our own body, the surrounding community, and the world at large.
If schools weren’t driven by standardized tests and grade equivalency requirements, then what would be the structure of our educational system?
Most schools are focused on the outcome, not the process. Slow schools are much more interested in the process: how are ideas conceptualized, how can we support learning and the knowing of how to learn, how can we foster the love of learning and investigating?
Slow schools aim to provide “ecological literacy,” where students learn what makes life on earth possible.
According to Fritjof Capra, “In the coming decades, the survival of humanity will depend on our ecological literacy – our ability to understand the basic principles of ecology and to live accordingly. This means that ecoliteracy must become a critical skill for politicians, business leaders, and professionals in all spheres, and should be the most important part of education at all levels – from primary and secondary schools to colleges, universities, and the continuing education and training of professionals.”
Slow schools believe the process of education should not be about supplying students with heaps of information to be regurgitated on demand. It is about enabling students to learn how to learn. It is about giving students opportunities to hear what others have learnt and to then discuss, debate, and reflect on this knowledge to gain a greater understanding.
Slow schools are also very involved with the slow food movement. They often build edible schoolyards. Students participate in all aspects of planting, tending and harvesting. Then in the classroom they prepare, serve and eat the organic food they have helped to grow.
Slow living can be defined as mindfulness or mindful living. Mindful living is a way of life where one connects with the present moment through peaceful observation. The less busy we are, they more time we have to become in tune with ourselves, our surroundings, and our planet.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School has dedicated much of his professional life bringing the medical community’s attention to the wisdom of the body and the healing that can take place when we get in touch with our senses and our thoughts.
He says: “Mindfulness is a certain way of paying attention that is healing, that is restorative, that is reminding you of who you actually are so that you don’t wind up getting entrained into being a human doing rather than a human being.”
Slow living also emphasizes the importance of the creative process. New ideas, new ventures, new ways of thinking don't happen in a flash of inspiration, they usually surface and start to take shape after a period of brain storming and then incubation.
Sir Ken Robinson, author, creativity expert, and educational guru, says that creativity will become as essential to our future as literacy is today. Creativity, innovation and adaptation drive our economy.
So, I may or may not cut down on my tabbed browsing. I have realized that it's not what really matters. What matters is the present moment. What matters is our community, the food we eat, the relationships we have, our children’s happiness and well-being, our loved ones, and the freedom to move at our own pace, however fast or slow that may be!