Slow down…to speed up. Might sound counterintuitive but this is a guiding philosophy I have adopted for my life. This was one of the early lessons I learned from one of my clinical supervisors during my graduate training in clinical psychology, as I realized I was rushing through a family therapy session and trying really hard to get two members to relate differently. After observing myself on video-recording afterwards and reflecting on this session together with my supervisor, he offered this simple advice: try and see if you can slow down the session, in order to speed things up. That is, rather than trying to achieve a certain outcome or result, can you let go of the attachment to this outcome, and slow it down and simply focus on being present in the session…and then see if you get to the desired “outcome” or “destination” anyway? Ultimately with less “struggle” along the way. It didn’t make sense intuitively but after practicing his advice, I began to notice changes.
This mantra has been one of my guiding mantras ever since, whether in a therapy session with a client, group session or workshop I am leading, a meditation practice, or as I go about my day-to-day. Whenever I find myself rushing and trying to get somewhere, struggling and resisting what is present (i.e., when stuck in traffic for example where I notice myself fretting about the traffic and being late), I simply remind myself of this mantra. I immediately begin to notice greater softness and ease building around my experience in that moment and the moments after that. Pretty soon I arrive at my destination, on time, and enjoy a calmer and more beautiful ride there. Over time, this has led to greater moments of ease and joy in my day-to-day.
I also try and guide clients to incorporate this mantra in their life, by approaching each session myself with this practice and intention. I find that when I approach my practice with this guiding philosophy, clients benefit as it speeds up progress towards their desired goals, as well I feel more attuned to the moment-to-moment experience within each session. Mindfulness has created for me the sense of greater space and time within my day. It is exciting that research also supports this – sprinkling periods of mindful practice throughout the day (such as during transitions or at the start of meetings) helps one feel more effective in their day and still accomplish all the intended tasks – however, the difference is ultimately felt in the quality of the day and a greater sense of connectedness with oneself and with others. Henry David Thoreau said it best, “To affect the quality of the day, is the highest of the arts.”
Here is an invitation to maybe experiment with this mantra before your next meeting or class or throughout your day, and notice how it impacts the quality of your meeting/class/day and how it makes you feel overall. Just imagine how the world might be if more people did this! Please feel free to share your experience and any comments/questions. Thank you for reading and wish you many moments of slowing down, to speed up 🙂