Immediately after stepping off of my flight back home from Costa Rica, I could feel the apparent shift. Time seemed to speed back up, a sense of urgency was reinstated and, having been on “Tico Time” for the past three weeks, I felt utterly left behind. I was coming from a place where days seemed elongated and enjoyed as opposed to sped thru and exhausted. Moments there were savored and thoroughly explored, versus lived halfheartedly. A walk to the store, an evening meal, a friendly introduction; absolutely nothing was hurried or rushed or enjoyed with anything less than a whole heart.
I feel myself craving a return to this pace of life. I want to linger long enough in all of the moments of my life so I can experience them wholly and completely. My adventures in Costa Rica taught me many things, but most importantly they emphasized the importance of slowing down and enjoying the little things, every little thing, for the summation of these details create the totality of this life. The task I face now is how to integrate this slow, melodic speed into a culture that seems to be moving a mile a minute. After some contemplation and necessary afternoon siestas, I’ve boiled it down to 4 simple ways to slow down daily life.
1. LISTEN like you mean it- I don’t know if it was my mediocre Spanish or my deep affection for the language, but while traveling I found myself listening intently to every word of every conversation. Often times it can be a tendency to listen to another just long enough until you’ve understood the overall gist of what is being said to you; in conversation with family and friends, receiving instructions at work or practicing on your yoga mat. Our attention internally turns to what our response is going to be, the next move we are going to make, and we’ve stopped being present for the individual choosing us as their audience. Practice being a better listener. Notice when the conversation between your ears gets louder than the one going on in front of you. Slow down the mind chatter, quiet the internal dialogue, and listen like you mean it.
2. LOOK up- Traveling without service on your cell phone is a big, beautiful blessing! As opposed to being enticed to check email over breakfast or document a midnight walk under the full moon, stepping away from screens allows the world around you to be observed more sincerely. With no distractions or pulls from fabricated obligations, we can more thoroughly take pleasure in the unique essence of each individual moment of our lives. Put aside the to-do lists, the various iDevices, even the mental itch to move onto the next minute. Take time each day to look up, look around and drink in the nectar of this sweet, sweet life.
3. LEARN something new each day- Whether you’re educating yourself about the environment, a different culture or the facets of a new friend, participating in the quest for knowledge is integral to our development as a human being. I’m not talking about returning to a class setting to study a foreign subject or using our beloved Google to identify breaking news, I’m referring to the wisdom that is woven into our daily experiences. Ask more questions, be more curious, and spend time dissecting the ins and outs of an idea that is interesting to you. When we give ourselves the task of intently exploring our lives for all the lessons, it becomes almost impossible to move at a rapid pace. It is necessary to pause, ponder and indulge in the evolution of our own mindscape. Make a conscious choice to learn something new about absolutely anything or anyone, every single day.
4. LOVE more, please- In my humble opinion, the best way to slow down our lives to fall more deeply in love with the little things. Somewhere along the way we might have been told that our love was best reserved for another person. But why not become enthralled by our morning cup of coffee, the pages of a great book, the way the sun rises and sets for us relentlessly? What we forget is by literally taking the time to stop and smell the roses, we are adding moments to our lives. Years from now when we look back in reflection, we will be reminded of all of times that we reveled in and gave ourselves permission to be madly in love with. The people we gave our honest attention to, the clouds that we watched curiously, the intellect we received and then absorbed. Love deeply, love frivolously, and love more, please.