Over the past few months, I have been receiving messages to slow down from random people and from different situations, so I’ve been reflecting a lot upon this lately. Here in the U.S., a lot of us are pressured to move at a rapid-fire pace, even during seasons of the year (like winter) that are designed for us to slow down.
Admittedly, there are times when moving fast is necessary for survival, and pro-slow messages (slow food, slow lifestyle, etc.) can come across as overly privileged and oblivious for those who are working day and night to make ends meet. But even for those who don’t have the luxury of indulging in the “art of slowing down,” I wonder if there are ways to add a few minutes of slowness—and even stillness—to one’s day.
Meditation and Slowing Down
Meditation is, among other things, an avenue for slowing down, at least briefly. When I guide clients through a meditation, I am super-aware of the tempo of my words, as I am trying to support others in a process that involves slowing down the mind from its often hyperactive limbic state. I speak slowly, sometimes to the point that I wonder if I am too slow, but then I remind myself that the listener won’t have that sensation of me speaking at a snail’s pace. As the breath slows and deepens, the mind starts to relax, and the slower pace of my words encourage that process.
This afternoon, I guided a couple of people through a meditation, and then I decided to go on a hike. I went to my favorite trail, which I often go to when I’m in a hurry and want a quick workout. I can complete the hike in 45 minutes if I’m moving really rapidly, but I find that my most pleasant hikes are when I have the time to stop and linger at various points along the path.
Slipping and Falling While Moving Too Fast
I’ve probably hiked that trail at least a hundred times, if not more, and I’ve noticed something over the past few years. Many people try to rush too fast as they’re hiking this trail, and I’ve seen a number of people slip and fall on the small loose gravel that paves the trail. The challenge with this trail is that slowing down is actually more efficient (and safer) than hiking too fast. The trail doesn’t look particularly difficult, but the terrain is a bit deceptive.
Intentional Breathing Helps Us Slow Down
I often recommend that clients take three deep breaths when a situation seems overwhelming. This can reset the nervous system and help calm us during stressful times. It also reminds the brain of the experience of meditation, and when there isn’t time to sit still for 20 minutes, a few intentional breaths can be an effective way to navigate stressful times.
The little reminders to slow down have been helpful for me, not only when I’m facilitating a Neurosculpting® meditation for others or guiding myself through one, but also when I am trying to push myself beyond my natural limits, both on and off the trail. Even if it’s just for a couple of minutes a day, the process of slowing down can be incredibly supportive to one’s overall wellbeing.
Cynthia has practiced meditation most of her life, although she didn’t realize that was what she was doing when she was a child. She discovered Neurosculpting® as part of her preparation for a transformative trip to post-earthquake Haiti in 2012. In the midst of massive trauma, a meditation she had learned from Lisa Wimberger is what allowed her to navigate an intensely difficult situation on the ground in Haiti. She was immediately hooked and jumped at the chance to undertake the Tier 1 facilitator training in 2013. Since then she has also completed Tier 2 training and is excited about contributing to the expansion of the Neurosculpting® modality.
Cynthia is also a lifelong musician who holds a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of North Texas. In its own way, her doctoral dissertation is intimately connected to the meditative work that Cynthia is so enthusiastic about.
Cynthia is actively involved in social change movements, and she believes that meditation is integral to healing our society’s collective wounds. She enjoys bringing Neurosculpting® into spaces that are focused on creating a better world for us all, and providing a safe, nurturing environment for those who desire to cultivate compassion and empathy.