I’m writing this from my bed. I’ve got a temperature and a persistent cough. Wish me luck: I’m hoping for a gentle case of this so that, as usually happens with my family, when the next person falls ill in 24 to 48 hours’ time, I’ll be feeling up to handling their care. At the moment, it would take a lot to get me to move for anyone.
Fortunately, we live in an ultra-connected time, and I still have all my books, magazines and the internet to keep me occupied and free from worry. I’m just not googling about any symptoms or possible diagnoses, just letting the disease run its course and seeing what happens next.
Who knew that a lethal world-wide virus could be just the push we all need to slow down? It really has stopped all the extraneous activities we did and forced so many of us to concentrate on the basics: eat, sleep, move and be with those we love the most. It’s like the most effective course on how to simplify your life I’ve ever met. So, as a slow way of living looks set to be the new norm for the next six months at least, I might as well enjoy some of those slow living books that I have bought over the years and (often) not had the time to read.
And who knew that a simple book like 1001 Ways to Slow Down by Barbara Ann Kipfer might hold ideas that will get us through enforced slow down. I picked this book up a few weeks ago, and set it aside until I had time. Ha. I have nothing but time now. So, does the book still have useable advice for someone who is being forced to slow down rather than voluntarily slowing down? I think so. Let me explain:
We now have nothing else but time. So many of us are ‘trapped’ at home, unable to work, in lockdown and told daily that we need to stay in and away from other humans to help prevent the spread of this virus. Doing nothing will drive us crazy, so why not use the time to rebalance our lives. It’s like a never ending Romjul, that week between Christmas and New Year when life slows down, we hunker down and stay with our family and have the hope of a new year ahead. We have nothing but Hope to wield against worries, panics and concerns. Once basic needs (food, home and family) are taken care of, we need Hope to see us through.
So… back to the book. There are 1001 ideas in here, and I obviously can’t tell you all of them. Here’s a short selection of the ideas that I will (once I’m not trapped in this bedroom, obviously) be putting in place in my life:
- 5: Before you go to bed, pause to send good thoughts to the people you love.
- 13: Don’t time your exercise. Work out for a reasonable, comfortable time and then stop.
- 30: If you feel panicky, make a conscious effort to calm down. Tell yourself to stop panicking and then close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. Feel yourself becoming more relaxed. Notice your heart beat slowing down.
- 48: Slow down and enjoy eating.
- 57: Take time for long, thoughtful conversations with interesting people.
- 62: Sit on the front porch and watch your neighbours at play.
- 152: Go on a gratitude walk. Appreciate the great, pleasing, beautiful, funny details in each and every thing.
- 239: Read the last word of the last page of an exquisite book, then do nothing but stare out the window and let it linger.
- 487: Stroking pets is therapeutic to both the humans and the pets.
- 554: Remove your watch and ignore clocks to the best of your ability.
- 666: Leave time for small, sacred rituals in your life.
- 710: Cook a meal from scratch.
- 712: Leave your shoes at the front door. Leave your troubles with your shoes.
- 758: Look up into the night sky and ponder its mysteries.
- 864: Remember that there is silence under the chaos.
The book is a beautiful mix of the practical and the philosophical. Doing things, feeling things and accepting things features all the way though the book. And it doesn’t just have the 1001 list, there are sections in between that focus on relaxing hobbies, slow movies to savour, taking time to be organised and things that cannot be speeded up (making bread and cakes, anyone?)
Along with whole page quotes on speed of living, slowing down and accepting what life has to offer with a thankful heart, it’s a chunky book full of wisdom. Certainly today I have been reading it between coughing fits, and enjoying the wisdom of releasing stress and embracing a slower, deeper way of living in future.
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