"Life in the fast lane Surely make you lose your mind Life in the fast lane, everything all the time Life in the fast lane, uh huh Blowin' and burnin', blinded by thirst They didn't see the stop sign, took a turn for the worse..."
--Life in the Fast Lane, The Eagles
Recently, I made a shocking change. For those of you who know me personally, you might want to sit down. If any of you are in law enforcement, please plug your ears. The big shocking change is this -- I started driving the speed limit. I know, I know -- it's the law, so I really shouldn't be bragging about this. Here's the thing -- I don't do drugs, I don't smoke, I don't drink. I do, however, love speed. Luckily, I only have a 4-cylinder car, so I can't indulge to the fullest extent. Now I'm not indulging at all. I slowed it down. Way down.
Then something amazing happened -- I started to feel more relaxed and less rushed. I was less impatient with the drivers I shared the road with. I smiled more and cursed (yep, totally cussed like a truck driver at slow and/or rude drivers) less. I used to think that I found enjoyment from driving fast. Now I realize that I'm enjoying going slow (or, at least, slower).
The same thing happened with my yoga practice, too. When I first started, I was all about speed, although I would have called it flow. I became the chaturanga, push up, up dog, down dog speed demon. I liked to push myself. I pushed myself into injury. I pushed myself through injury. Sure, I stopped for Savasana, but it was a struggle.
A few years into my speedy ways, I found myself in a yoga class unlike any other that I'd been in previously. The movements were slow, deliberate. I huffed my way through the first 5 minutes, silently begging (and whining) the teacher to pick up the pace. He didn't. Eventually, I stopped huffing and began to enjoy the slow. After the practice ended, I found myself wishing that we could continue.
Still, I went back to my regular practice until, a few years later, I began studying a slower paced style of yoga (that initial experienced stuck with me and encouraged me to seek out a different style of yoga). Seems silly to not actually practice the style of yoga that you're studying, right? So practice I did. And just like that first time, the first 5 minutes of the practice were somewhat painful. My resistance was rampant, my brain screaming "Let's speed this up!" I managed to stick it out and after a few years of slowing down, I never went back to my speedy practice. Perhaps a handful of times I would run through some fast-paced Sun Salutations, but my habit -- and my addiction to speed -- had been broken.
And you know what they say -- how you do one thing is how you do everything...
A few weeks ago, I ran into an old friend. She's busy with a capital B. I believe she used the word "overwhelmed" no less than 5 times during our brief catch-up chat. I noticed that I lacked understanding about what she was saying. It made me laugh because I often chastise myself for not slowing down enough and getting caught up in distractions, yet chatting with my old friend reminded me that I've slowed things down quite a bit more than I give myself credit for.
I've got some travel coming up and a few fun events that all seem to fall in the same two week period. After looking at my calender, I noticed that I've spaced things out, giving myself a day or two of rest between busy days. I've built rest and calm into my schedule. I could race around and fit everything in, but my newly-acquired appreciation of slowness has prevailed.
So here's a little something to marinate on: Is your yoga practice fast or slow? Are you willing to slow it down? How about life -- are you willing to slow down and be more aware and deliberate?
That story of the tortoise and the hare got popular for a reason, you know...