The Slow Living
Words Zu Anjalika Kamis Gunnulfsen | Image Rob Wingate
I woke up, drew open my curtains and right out there on the branch, a little squirrel went scurrying away. The morning breeze was cool and fresh. I took in the goodness of the morning with all my senses. I stared out into the ocean and looked beyond the horizon, feeling grateful I am alive. Something caught my sense of smell. I turned away from the window towards the wonderful aroma of freshly baked croissants. I walked down the stairs and there on the table sat a delicious breakfast of croissants, cheese, jam, fruits and coffee. I smiled, he gave me a morning kiss and I know this is going to be a wonderful day.
How many of us yearn to wake up to that scenario or something similar? Our lives have been a myriad of busy-ness, which most time, we take on as a badge of honour. We are on the get-go right from the moment we wake up till the time we lay our heads on the bed. We kept on chasing – chasing days, chasing hours, chasing minutes. We live life with a bunch of checklists, which we rush through. Thing is, with all these rushings, how are we ever going to savour and enjoy anything that comes our way? While rushing, we will never be able to know when something good is happening – which most often than not, occurs every single day. The littlest blessings in life are the ones we will miss and these little things are what make life worth living.
All of us globally have been coerced to get into living slow lives when the pandemic hits us in late 2019 but now with the world opening again, we might have quickly forgotten the beauty of slow living.
What Is Slow Living?
Slow living is a way of living based on the idea of a slower approach to all aspects of everyday life, to be more intentional with your time and to live more mindfully and balanced.
Slow living is a lot easier than we all think it is. It is about waking up and smelling the flowers and immersing in the goodness of life – which we all should have done anyways.
The concept of slow living has its origins in Italy. This was in response to a McDonald’s restaurant that disrupted local food traditions in the 1980s. Its applicability was broadened and popularized in 2004 when Carl Honoré, a renowned speaker on the subject, published his book In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed.
“Slow living means doing everything at the correct speed: quickly, slowly or whatever pace works best. Slow living means being present, living each moment fully, putting quality before quantity in everything from work and sex to food and parenting.”
The Slow Living Movement is everything our current hustle society is not. It rejects the idea of a daily grind or exertion and puts a stop to any form of negligent lifestyle. It is to live our life with purpose, even if that means we take longer to reach our ambitions. Living slowly is the opposite of frantic existence.
Recognize that slowing down is a choice open to us all. It may be tempting to think that you don’t have time to slow down but there are always ways to go a bit slower.
Wake up earlier and enjoy a good breakfast.
Many of us go through the morning in a rush. Mornings are very crucial to set the tone for your day. Wake up a little earlier. Make that beautiful cup of coffee or matcha. Toast some bread, spread some peanut butter, sprinkle some berries on top and sink your teeth into it. No gadgets are necessary – just you and your breakfast. Savour every bite and bask in every crunch. Indulge in the sweet, sour flavour. When we stop and savour, everything changes and that includes how we perceive our day.
Take time out in nature whenever you can.
Be it in the woods, by the beach, down the stream or simply standing under a tree, enjoying the sing-song of the birds with your feet bare, feeling the grains of the earth underneath your soles. Nature provides more healing and comfort than we ever give it credit for. Go bask in it.
Say NO to non-essentials
Say YES to only things that bring you spark. Don’t overburden yourself with every single request.
Once you take away these non-fundamentals, you’ll feel the weight of the world lifted off.
Cut down on everything digital. Digitalisation is needed in certain aspects of our lives but too much of it can also dampen the human spirit. Go back to writing your schedule in the daily planner, write your shopping list instead of putting it up on your phone notes, and draw up budgets in your physical diary instead of spreadsheets. Writing requires you to focus, channel and organise your thoughts, which is mindfulness in itself.
Turn an everyday routine into a ritual
Routine is a chore but ritual is deemed sacred. Rituals give purpose to life. Everything in our lives can be made into a ritual – while you are squeezing lemon (for your morning hot lemon water), the body brushing or setting tray for coffee and breakfast. I even set a ritual around giving my pet his food every morning; something I look very much forward to whenever I make my way to the kitchen upon waking up.
When you shower, feel the trickling down of the water on your body. When you drink that cup of coffee, taste the smooth java down your throat. When you are playing with your kids, make sure you are immersing your being with them; listen to every laughter, chuckle and whine. Being present means being where you are; physically, emotionally and spiritually – in that particular place and time – no straying thoughts.
Spend time on relationships that matter
Allocate time to nurture relationships that gives you joy.
Sometimes less means more. Select your relationships wisely.
Cultivate the habit of journaling
Habits like journaling plant you into the present moment, which helps you escape that endless internal dialogue of worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. Slow living is all about being in the now. In all honesty, what good does worrying about the future bring? The past – learn from them, move on and make good of the present moment.