Do you feel as if you’re always in a hurry? Do you feel bad when you are not ticking off your to-do list fast enough?
You are not alone.
A lot of us go through burnout due to stressful, busy and overly scheduled lives. The modern times cultivate it: from the instant food we eat to the constant, ‘binging’ notifications of our social media accounts. Dr. Stephanie Brown, a Silicon Valley psychologist and the author of the book Speed: Facing our Addiction to Fast and Faster – and Overcoming our Fear of Slowing Down wrote: “We live under a weight of demands, real and imagined, that is debilitating. We see an alarming increase in stress-related disorders of all kinds for all ages.”
As fast-paced modern living continues to rule our lives, there is a growing slow living movement all over the world. This global community is being led by individuals and groups that believe in the power of living at a slower pace – the kind of life that is not focused on accumulating possessions and simply surviving day-to-day, but on what truly matters for the soul.
Here are 7 reasons why slow living is soulful living:
1. It allows you to take your time and be present
Taking your time and being present often seems to be a luxury, but, when you are able to take your time, you can organize your day very well – prioritising to-dos of utmost important without spreading yourself too thin. Through this, you can give your full attention to the things you do, no matter how simple these are. Such an approach can make you feel a sense of fulfilment when the day is done.
For example, upon hearing your alarm in the morning, instead of rushing to the shower, sit on your bed and set your intention for the day. Make it a simple moment of prayer or meditation. Following that, you can also use it as a moment to write down your daily to-do list which can help you organize your tasks. Being present frees you from the chains of anxiety and overwhelm. It gifts you with the full experience of being fully in the moment.
2. It nurtures your intuition
Your intuition is a sacred compass to the desires of your soul. Slow living enriches your instincts because you function not from a place of pressure, but from a place of being. As you face the day without forcing yourself to do more than one thing at a time, you immerse in your real self – you get to know who you are on a deeper level and it elevates your capacity to listen to your own inner voice.
Intuition is often neglected in our busy lives for with busyness comes the pressure of competing with others and getting ahead from the rest. When you are in touch with your intuition, you are giving your soul the nourishment it needs to follow what you really want beyond the expectations of society.
According to experts, deepening and following your intuition leads you to a sense of personal purpose, wisdom in trusting the right people, connection to bolder ideas, and authenticity of the self.
3. It inspires you to give more attention to the simple joys of life
Leading a hectic life can steal you from the simple joys of life: the beauty of sunshine, the peace of a snowy day, the smile of a loved-one, or the simple delight of eating a bowl of fresh fruit. When hurrying, you do things very fast and sometimes miss out on appreciating the little pleasures that actually make up the hours of a day.
Why do these simple joys matter? They keep you aware and grateful of life.
Noticing them and paying attention to them guide you in celebrating the blessing of simply being alive. Every day, these gentle miracles happen around you, and living slow is the only way to receive their grace. Remember those moments when you put away your mobile phone and just hold space for a loved-one? What about those times when you slow down to simply sit and watch the breath-taking colours of a sunset? These simple joys are also our source of wealth. The human experience is colourful and complex and there is often no pressing need to jump from one moment to the next only as a spectator. You ought to participate fully in this beautiful journey.
4. It grows your ability to reflect and change
When you are always caught up in a life of deadlines, there is not enough space and time for self-reflection: to dive into your questions, doubts, and visions. Slow living paves the way to reflection and change by growing your ability to really take the time and talk with your innermost self. Reflection lets you weigh the pluses and minuses in your life and what you want to improve upon in yourself. Change is not the easiest thing to do especially when you are stuck in a cycle of haste and hustle. Most slow living enthusiasts talk about an existential crisis that occurs before they are able to realize that they need to transform their lives – that they had been utterly unhappy and dissatisfied. We don’t all need to wait for this to happen before accepting that a shift can bring about a better way of living.
In slowing down, you begin to take important matters in your life and lay them down to see from a clearer perspective. From this, you are able to make sound decisions that are aligned with your dreams and aspirations. It is an instrumental way to create a life of purpose.
5. It strengthens your relationships
Working a lot and being absorbed by work is one of the biggest factors why you spend less time and have less energy with family and friends. Embracing slow living teaches you that strong relationships are as important, if not more important than career growth. By allowing yourself to enjoy the time with those you care for, you invest in a lifetime of memories that make you a better, more fulfilled person.
According to research, having healthy and loving relationships also make you healthier – body, mind, and spirit.
Northwestern Medicine Journal shares that having and being in these kinds of relationships: lowers stress levels, brings better healing, create healthier behaviours, guides you to a deeper sense of purpose, and leads you to a longer life.
Slow living empowers you to give enough time to be with others – sharing meals, attending gatherings, and holding space for those who need your care. In doing so, you are able to enjoy the wonders of truly connecting. An essential and revitalising thread in a meaningful life.
6. It boosts your well-being and immunity
As you embrace slow living, you also become better at listening to your body. You begin to develop a way of knowing when your body wants you to rest or what you need to eat to feed it with the right nutrients. Hurrying pushes you towards an unhealthy diet and burnout. As you slow down and look into the ways you eat and move your body, you begin to achieve a lifestyle of utmost care for yourself. As a result, you will also notice a significant improvement in your own well-being and immunity.
Slow eating in particular has been scientifically proven to improve health. It has been noted that eating slowly might actually lead to weight loss most likely as a side effect of feeling full for longer. It has also been shown that on top of meal enjoyment, eating slowly also reduces your tendency to snack. Overall this will inevitably lead to better well-being and higher overall immunity.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits shares the following health benefits of slow eating: weight loss, enjoyment of food, good and digestion. He also added that: “Our hectic, fast-paced, stressful, chaotic lives — the Fast Life — leads to eating Fast Food, and eating it quickly. This is a lifestyle that is dehumanizing us, making us unhealthy, stressed out, and unhappy. We rush through our day, doing one mindless task after another, without taking the time to live life, to enjoy life, to relate to each other, to be human.”
7. It makes you kinder and more compassionate
The demands of a fast-paced life can drain you in various aspects of life. Emotionally, it is as if you are being forced away from being kind and compassionate to others, and instead continually looking at others as competition.
When you start slowing down in your life, you have more room to observe and contemplate on the struggles and plight of other people. You move away from being self-absorbed and you explore the world with a considerate mind and a sincere heart. You become more open to the similarities in your quest for meaning and purpose with other people around you.
Furthermore, you become more engaged to listening and learning from others because you have more time, space, and energy. No man is an island, and it is through kindness and compassion that we embody the essence of how it to thrive and not just survive.
Living in rhythm with the natural flow of life makes you more conscious on how to make the world a better place.
So, these are just seven of the many reasons why slow living is soulful living. Remember that all it takes is to take one step at a time if you feel that you need to take the slower path from where you are in life right now. The slower life, more soulful life is waiting for you!
Writer: Kristine Buenavista is an artist and slow life disciple from the Philippines. Storytelling is one of her soul compasses. Poetry is her favourite sacred fuel. She is the co-founder of Alima Community and Artivism Iloilo.