Ever feel like things are so hectic that you don’t have moment to draw breath or appreciate the little things in life? You’re not alone! So, maybe it’s time to slow down for a second, make a cup of tea, and read this little article. It’s about something that can really make a difference.
The ‘slow movement’ is a lifestyle that encourages people to take a slower approach to everyday life, or at least some parts of it. The slow lifestyles concept started with the slow food movement that began in Italy during the 1980s and 1990s, which is all about ditching our reliance on fast food and enjoying more traditional ways of producing, preparing and eating food.
These days we live at such a fast pace that life can feel chaotic and exhausting. Technology has brought enormous benefits to our lives, but it has also brought extra stresses. With slow living, you can step back, take stock and start using ‘mindfulness’ techniques to think about the moment and the place you are in. Mindfulness means being fully present, aware of where you are and what you are doing, and thinking about and enjoying all your senses, such as what you can hear, see and feel.
Slow life means considering your use of technology devices and, while not abandoning them, at least making time when you can switch them off and put them away for a while, then sit and talk to your loved ones in the old-fashioned way. It’s about slowing down and putting the emphasis on deeper and more rewarding relationships with people – not just your partner and children, but also your other family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and others you meet along life’s journey.
Slowing down in the kitchen is a great way to practise mindfulness, as it gives you a heap of sensory experiences to enjoy as you prepare and then eat your food in a relaxed and fully present way. Smell the tangy herbs as you chop them and the rich aroma of the casserole as you stir it – admire the colours and the textures of your fresh fruit and vegetables, and listen the the crunch as you bite into that apple!
By being part of the slow movement, we can forge a better connection to this planet we live on and the life we’ve been given. By connecting to life, we firstly connect to ourselves, that is, to our body and our mind, to the stage we have reached in life, to the natural rhythms that guide us, and perhaps to a new or deeper spirituality.
A quick mention of some slow movements
Slow Travel: Rather than flitting from one place to another and dashing around with a hectic schedule, slow travel is about connecting to a place and its people, and taking the opportunity to become part of a place’s local life and culture – at least for a little while. Slow travellers prefer to settle in one place for at least a week, and usually rent houses, cottages or apartments, rather than staying in hotels, so they can experience shopping and cooking in the new place.
Slow Food: This movement is a reaction to the effects of large-scale, commercial food production and the fast-food industry. It aims to preserve the cuisine of a culture and its food plants and seeds, domestic animals and farming. Slow food embraces sustainable living and the buying and growing of seasonal foods, and good old-fashioned home cooking.
Slow Cities (also known as Cittaslow): Slow cities are, as you’ve probably guessed, places that encourage people to enjoy slow living. Started in Italy, the movement specifies certain attributes a city must have to attain the title of Slow City. Slow cities have less traffic and noise and fewer crowds and are committed to sustainable living. They promote and encourage the arts, diversity, history and tradition, and work to promote a healthy way of life. Australia has three official slow cities (so far): Katoomba in NSW, Yea in Victoria and Goolwa in South Australia.
So, did you take our advice and make a cup of tea, and sit down for a minute to read this? (Or maybe pour a glass of wine? (Well, that’s allowed too.) Well done! Now, taste and appreciate that beverage of choice. Take some deep, slow breaths, look around you and think about what you can see, hear and feel, right now, in this moment. Good start! There are lots of benefits to the slow life movement, and maybe you can get into it with some slow cooking. That’s something everybody will definitely enjoy!