Do we ever consider slowing down for a fuller experience of life? Do we ever stop to take in the beauty of the moment before us? Do we make it a priority to connect – and truly connect – with someone else? Today’s post is about slowing down to experience more. Oddly enough, we will realize that in our fanatic rush to save time, we miss out on a lot of important things in life.
(Don’t just look straight ahead, notice the pretty flowers along the path)
“Slow down and enjoy life. It is not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” Eddie Cantor
Isn’t it true that we are often in the rush of things that we hardly ever slow down? There is not much of a space in-between. Our schedules need to run like clockwork otherwise the later appointments get jammed in the process. We pack as much as we can not just during the weekdays but the weekends as well. We are constantly trying to play catch-up.
Slowing Down in the Park
Since September last year, I have been going to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, our national park. Spanning 63.7ha, I would not call it really huge. Yet, there was much I could miss out on even though I have walked down the same pathway several times. On some of my visits, I intentionally slowed down my steps in order to discover more. I would notice sights that I have not seen before: a mystical looking tree, a new shimmer to the same lake, magical mushrooms sprouting from the log, exquisite flowers from a sea of green.
A new silvery shimmer to the same lake?….
A mystical looking tree that I have missed out on earlier trips? The tree with its branches hanging in all directions escaped my notice in my first few rounds at this part of the park….
Did we miss out on the mushrooms before?
A magnificent crown of flowers blooming from a sea of green?…
Slowing Down to Build Connections
When we slow down, we get to build a connection. No connection with mother nature can be made if we are simply rushing through the park. A jog is not quite the same as a slow walk in the park. Neither is a walk the same as finally making a stop, to take in the breathtaking view from where we stand. Our capacity for joy over the moment of deep connection can only be in proportion of the fullness of the presence that we bring to it.
It is the same with building a connection in our relationships with others. In our rush for time, it is possible that we neglect the people around us. To cultivate healthy relationships, it is important to be fully present with the person in front of us and not wish as if we are somewhere else.
“Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you whenever you have time and never forget everything and every person that has the least place within your heart.” Anonymous
One of my favorite quotes is by Buddha which says “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” Locked in the infinity of the moment, we experience a connection with another – be it flower, person or any other thing – that unifies us as one. Time stands still in this moment. Everything else disappears. What arises is the aliveness of the experience.
Ways to Slow Down to Experience More
So what can you do to slow down in order to experience more?
1. Take Slow Walks in the Park. Slow yourself down by three steps or do a walking meditation the next time you go to the park. If you find that you have been walking a little too fast, retrace your steps and start to notice what you have missed in your first round.
2. Switch off the TV. Watching TV cannot be counted as slowing down. If you are not selective in your TV programs, you may end up with more mental junk than you know. To get in touch with life cannot be found through watching TV. It is about feeling the ground beneath your feet and fully engaging in the reality of the moment through your senses.
3. Spend Less Time On Your PC or Laptop To be honest, I have been spending less and less time on the internet. This is quite a contrast to how I used to work. I used to feel as if I cannot do without an internet connection. However, I now realize that the quality of my post improves when I am able to enjoy life in its fullness and to later share my experiences online. As with watching TV, experiencing reality cannot be made through hours spent on our PCs!
4. Spend Time With Your Loved Ones. It feels sad that our government has to come up with a yearly “Eat with Your Family Day” event. The event has been initiated since 2003. A day in the year is designated because it has been found that “the ritual of family eating together is becoming increasingly important as there are fewer opportunities to do so.”
I would think that eating together with our family once a year will not be enough to build a stronger bond. Eating in togetherness also means communication and attentive attention from everyone at the dining table. It would certainly not do to eat and watch television at the same time. Slow down your other activities every once in a while to spend time with your loved ones!
5. Meditate. My Musing for the M word goes: M is for Meditation, the natural elixir that will allow us to enjoy the Miracle of Life and the timeless experience that will bring Magic into every waking Moment. Read more about the Benefits of Meditation if you are new to the idea of spending time in silence.
6. Keep a Diary of Your Experiences. When you keep a diary or for that matter, own a blog, you start to be observant. You are compelled to slow down to keep records of your experiences. Just like I have found with blogging on this site
7. Pick Up a Leisure Activity. Consider getting involved in an activity that will require you to learn the art of slowing down. Hence, sports that have you up and running do not qualify. The times when I slowed down to take in the vastness of the sea were one of the best experiences I had from my sailing days. When I close my eyes, I recall it all: the smell of sea salt, the nothingness that stretches far out into the ocean and the crystalline blue sky.
Nearer to today, for more than three months now, I have been picking up Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a Chinese system of slow meditative physical exercise designed for relaxation and balance and health. It allows me to enjoy the fluidity that connects one movement to the next, one moment to another. Hopefully, there will come a day when I feel inspired to share more about my adventures with Tai Chi.
Nature Tapestry Notes
Nature Tapestry Notes Slow down to Experience More. Don’t miss experiencing the beauty before you, in your rush to save time. Enjoy the moment fully. And life as a whole becomes full with the succession of such moments.
Nature Tapestry Notes is a series of posts that I write and publish from insights gathered while connecting with nature at The Singapore Botanic Gardens. It now comes approximately once per month.