“The Swing” by Gustave Courbet (1844)
Source: public domain
In 21 years of living with chronic pain And disease, I discovered, remembering to make an effort to slow down has many beneficial effects. Calms any mentality Stress I feel, it also tends to reduce physical pain. I said “tends to” because, on some days, nothing helps me much with my pain level. On those days, I have to be patient and invite self-compassion to see me. (Self-compassion simply means being kind to yourself in any way you can.)
Here are three ways I’ve learned to slow down and, as a result, improve my quality of life. I hope you try these suggestions and see which one works for you.
1. Decide how long you think it will take to complete a task, then set aside twice the time to get it done – or even three times the time!
If you’re like me, you rarely get a task done in the time you set aside for it.
I remember a few years ago when I needed to prune lantana plants in my yard so that they would flower nicely in the spring. I always estimated it would take about 15 minutes. (I seem to mistakenly think that almost everything will only take 15 minutes!) Realistically, trimming a lantana takes about 45 minutes. If I stayed that long, my symptoms would flare up and I would destroy them, as we call them in my house.
So, on the day I treated lantana, I didn’t double those 15 minutes, but tripled them and divided the task into three sessions. I pruned a third of the Lantana on Friday, the third on Saturday, and the last third on Sunday. Not only did I avoid flare-ups in symptoms, but I enjoyed being out for three days in a row And the Have a lot of fun cutting away from Lantana little by little. (Fortunately, it’s a plant that doesn’t care if you have a little skill with pruning.)
2. Perform a task in slow motion.
You can perform almost any task in slow motion: brushing your teeth, making the bed, typing on the keyboard just like I am now. This idea was inspired by a discovery I made in the ’90s while driving my 1985 LTD (a car my kids called The Big White Boat). I realized that driving my LTD on the highway can be really relaxing. All I had to do was stay in the slow lane. There was no need to overtake the cars because they were going slow like me. There was no one riding my bumper to make me faster, because it’s okay to stick to the speed limits when you’re in the far right lane (at least that was at the time).
I’ve taken this “slow path” mindset and applied it to other tasks by consciously doing them more slowly. Having said that, unless I am sober, out of habit, I find myself moving quickly even when there is no reason to hurry. When I realize I’m doing this, I take a deep breath, and slow down again. realization like this is a file Full focus of the mind Exercise. (Attention simply means learning to push Attention to experience the present moment).
3. Not Multitasking (Okay, less multitasking).
Korean Zen master Seung Sahn liked to say to his students, “When reading, read only. When eating, only eat. When thinking, only think.” In other words: Don’t multitask. I discovered that it is difficult to break the habit of multitasking; It could be similar to addicted Sometimes. Again, practicing mindfulness helps because conscious attention to experiencing the present moment can show you that you are multitasking without even realizing it. Once you see this, you can choose to do one task at a time if appropriate, given the circumstances of the moment.
Multitasking isn’t necessary for me because too much sensory input can exacerbate symptoms. I think of myself as a multi-tasking recoverer.
These three tips can enrich your quality of life, regardless of your health condition. I hope, by reading this article, you took twice as much time as you did!
Note: The topic of this article was expanded on in Chapter 8 (“Tools for Sharpening Mindfulness Skills”) of my book, How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sadness.