Slow TV: A Mesmerising Time-Out From The Chaos Of 2016?

10/10/2016 13:21

I'll spare you an opening paragraph on Brexit and the economy and just say that when I first typed 'Slow TV' into YouTube, I was certainly cynical at first, and then, mesmerised. For those who haven't heard of Slow TV, it is hours of raw unedited footage from cameras mounted onto things. And it's brilliant.

Nobody could have predicted just how much this new format would take viewers by storm. Thomas Hellum, producer of the first 'Slow TV' show for the Norwegian Broadcasting Company forecast his show 'Train Ride: Bergen to Oslo' to pull in around 1000 viewers. A conservative estimate to say the least, his show went on to be seen by 1.2 million people and many more online.

The rise of 'Slow TV' actually makes perfect sense. A consuming task or sensory experience is one of the most accessible ways to bring your mind into a present and mindful state, excluding other things competing for your attention.

Often, we don't notice how many things we have going on at once until we reach a point where we can't manage. For some of us, this can become an ongoing problem. Most of us can benefit from taking some time to stop, and focus on right now, before stepping back into the bustle of our lives. A commute can be a great opportunity for this, something that really hit home recently on a two hour trip from Liverpool to London when I realised I'd spent the entire time worrying about what I was going to do when I got off at the other end.

To mark World Mental Health Day, Virgin Trains, working alongside the Mental Health Foundation, have launched an on-board channel promoting positive mental health 'Be Mindful'. A world first for a travel company, the launch content is inspired by the Scandinavian Slow TV trend, allowing passengers to log into Virgin's free on-board entertainment service (BEAM) and see real-time footage shot from the drivers cab, as the train passes through some of the most beautiful parts of the UK including Arthur's Seat, Lake Windermere, the Yorkshire Dales and Loch Lomond.

We can all benefit from spending more time being present in the here and now - worrying less about the past or being anxious about the future. Of course, Slow TV is no substitute for a mindfulness course - but it is a start towards becoming more aware of your wellbeing and feelings in the present. If it makes you curious, and you want to find out more, then the Mental Health Foundation can help.

Thousands of years old and rooted in Buddhist traditions, Mindfulness is now a well-established method of personal development and stress management, having been proven to help reduce levels of stress, anxiety and depression. Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to the present moment - it's about coming out of autopilot and being aware of your feelings and wellbeing. Practicing mindfulness can help us feel more connected - to ourselves, to our family, and to the world around us. Anything that encourages more people to give it a try in 2016 can only be a good thing!