This has been a week of Slowing Down. One moment at a time.
And now that Saturday is almost here, it’s a chance to step back from the fast-paced world of technology — iPhones, non-stop Facebook videos, and distracted one-line messages to friends.
But it’s not just the online world that has been dragging me along by the nose recently.
The house needed cleaning before the weekend guests arrived. Children needed to be fed and shuttled and reminded to do this or to not forget that.
And earlier in the week, the laundry that was hung out to dry had to be run through the dryer after a sudden thunderstorm rolled in off the lake.
This downpour was followed by an unseasonable plunge in temperature. And all the delicate plants had to be brought in or covered or just prayed over in hopes of saving them from the late-spring frost.
But at least I made the deadline for my Healthline article on slow medicine. Although to make it happen, I had to stay up until almost midnight and then wake up early the next day to write some more.
So much for slowing down.
It was worth it, though, because I was driving into town in the morning to teach a yoga class for people with multiple sclerosis. To give them an hour of slowing down that has been so sorely lacking in my own life recently.
Yoga and Slow Medicine
Earlier in the week, as I reviewed my notes from an interview with Dr. Michael Finkelstein — aka The Slow Doctor — I was struck by the similarity between his approach to medicine and yoga:
- Balance: Like yoga, slow medicine is not just for people who have been diagnosed with an illness. These practices can help everyone “get in back in touch with what’s really meaningful and get back in balance,” Finkelstein said in the Healthline interview.
- Mindfulness: At its heart, slow medicine is about mindfulness — choosing treatments in a thoughtful (slow) way. It’s the same way with yoga — slowing down so you can move or breathe or think with awareness.
- Relationships: As Finkelstein describes it, slow medicine is about relationships — between our body and mind; or with friends and family, the food we eat, the environment, and the divine. One of my yoga teachers said something similar — sometimes your yoga practice is simply to call your mother or share a house with four other people.
After I submitted the article on slow medicine, I drove to my yoga class.
This, I should mention, is the first regular yoga class that I have taught in three-and-a-half years. After I moved to Canada, I stopped teaching yoga while I waited for my permanent resident visa to be approved.
Thursday’s class felt a lot like starting over. Would I remember what I had planned to teach? And after spending so many years as an introverted freelance writer, would I freeze in front of the class?
The stress was even greater because I was teaching yoga to people living with multiple sclerosis. I didn’t really know what to expect from them. And I really wanted them to enjoy the class, because yoga has done so much for me — physically, mentally and emotionally.
Slowing Down Naturally
I always find that even a few moments of quiet before a yoga class can act like a barrier — keeping at bay the hectic world of our everyday lives.
“Chaos and stress, keep out!”
This mantra seemed to work. Even the students shifted easily from constant motion to simple breathing and gentle moving.
At the end of class, they were amazed that an hour had passed. That they were able to sit still for so long.
This is the power of yoga. The power of Slowing Down.
No matter how many times I teach yoga, the same realization always returns to me whenever I sit down in front of a group of strangers to share my yoga.
It’s all about slowing down my breath. Slowing down the thoughts racing through my mind. Slowing down my life.
And at that moment, I know there is nowhere else to be. Nothing else to do.
All that I need to think about is my relationship with this small group of people who have chosen to spend the next hour with me.
Peacefully. Mindfully. Slowly.
- Wooden bridge in Portland Japanese Garden © 2007 by Shawn Radcliffe
- Broken speedometer in abandoned, rusty car © 2014 by Shawn Radcliffe
- Red Buddha statue and sunflower, Rural Rootz, Ontario © 2012 by Shawn Radcliffe
- Man slowing down on dock, Manitoulin Island, Ontario © 2012 by Shawn Radcliffe