What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare, wrote the Welsh poet and 'super-tramp', W.H. Davies, in 1911.
When life is on the go, hectic and non-stop, we talk fast, walk fast, eat fast. Meanwhile our mind is busily planning, thinking, judging and analysing. Our impatience grows as we become imperceptive and insensitive towards others. In a state of hurry, awareness of what we are doing seems lacking, hence the misplacing of items, forgetfulness and clumsiness. We may not even notice the taste of our favorite food we are eating but our earlier memory tells us that it was fine anyway. When we slow down, our memory recall is improved, we are less clumsy and less grumpy. The taste of food becomes more prominent, allowing us to appreciate it to the full.
A busy lifestyle means that rest and sleep are kept to a minimum. We go to bed with a host of things on our mind, dream about them and wake up to the same worries. Studies found that the brain didn't go to sleep but remained active and continued to review whatever was on our mind prior to sleep. Eventually we get stressed out, feeling uptight and lethargic, because we can't shut down our thoughts. Thoughts become us and we carry them around everywhere. We either do more activities or we sleep more - in trying to block off or forget our worries. The vicious cycle of restlessness continues. Worst, our rush-rush vibes impact on others, making them feel uncomfortable and agitated by being in our company.
Slow down! Eat slowly, breathe slowly, think slowly, walk slowly, do one thing at a time. You will begin to notice things around you and see their beauty the way you have never experienced before, be they the dry leaves scurrying in the street when rustled by the wind, the blades of grass swaying to and fro when caressed by the breeze, wrinkles on your partner's face, the sadness in their eyes, the delight in their smiles and things you have always taken for granted but never appreciated. If only you will slow down and look - not just with your eyes but with your heart.
Slow down now. Valentine Day is a good time to start. You may begin to notice how your loved ones have changed while living, loving and sharing their lives with you. Any of their noticeable changes may bring home what is on their mind or happening to their health that you may not have picked up before. Perhaps they seem happier, troubled or have aged too fast. Is there anything you can do to alleviate their pain? This gives you the chance to do something about it. If the stress they are experiencing is work-related, your support will lessen their difficulties. Without slowing down, all these little signs, each perhaps crucial, will be omitted from your radar.
Try meditation to help you slow down - to spare your heart and cardiovascular system from wear and tear due to stress. When you practise meditation, the awareness of your breathing or bodily movements becomes enhanced. As you shift your focus from the thinking process to being in the present moment with your breaths, every breath you take becomes distinctively beautiful, and calming. Your attention and power of observation increase; your memory improves. More importantly, when you take more time to slow down and be mindful of what you are doing, speaking, thinking, and feeling, there is a greater freedom from worries and anxiety, allowing you to be at peace with yourself and environment. Such beauty of calm may be short-lived at first, but with practice, it will extend and last longer.
To persevere with the busy-ness of life, day-in day-out, would be, concluded W.H. Davies:
A poor life this if, full of care
We have no time to stand and stare.