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The Art of Slow Living

Five principles that allow me to be truly present each day

In an attempt to slow down, to reconnect with ourselves, to find some stillness amidst the rush of the day, we squeeze in yoga classes after work, meditate, journal, follow wise influencers on social media, join members-only groups, read self-improvement books and perhaps even splurge on expensive retreats. Or wish we could.

And these things are wonderful.

But it’s a pretty long list, and maintaining such a zen lifestyle against the reality of our modern lives would seem to require organization and discipline.

I recently visited new friends in the country and was sobered to realize the reality of their lives was what others, including myself, are “retreating” to, scheduling in, and paying for. Here they were, effortlessly living the way so many of us aspire to.

So is balance really a bigger picture thing, where we “retreat” once or twice a year in order to recharge, but struggle the rest of the time? Or is there a more sustainable way?

While I certainly don’t have the answer, I’m constantly reflecting on this and exploring alternatives. And I’ve discovered one non-negotiable lifestyle component: no hurrying.

For me, it is much easier to be present when I’m living life slowly. The moment hurriedness creeps in and I become the mommy monster of “Hurry up!” and “Come on!” I’ve lost something essential, namely my connectedness to the present moment.

Sadly, “rushing” myself and others used to be my daily reality. From the time the kids and I woke up in the morning until the moment they were in bed 14 hours later, it was almost non-stop “hadi” (rhymes with caddy), that cute little Turkish word that is among the first foreigners here learn.

And with that came not only increased stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol in my body, but an inability to focus or be truly present. I was going through the motions of much of my day.

The critical turning point for me was the moment I realized that I was conditioning my kids to be exactly like me when they were older!

Now, I follow these 5 principles and am happy to say I rarely feel rushed anymore:

1. No saying “hadi!” I’ve (almost) gotten over my obsession with not being late; and if punctuality is really going to matter, I allow extra time. If my youngest wants to stop and pick up a snail from the path and move it to the side; or if my middle child wants to arrange all his stuffed animals around his pillow before I turn off the light; if all three are having a sweet moment on the trampoline just as I’m putting dinner on the table, I give them that space.

2. No watch. At least once or twice a day I commit to doing something without looking at my phone or otherwise checking the time.

3. No overbooking. I agree to minimal activities/appointments/playdates with lots of buffer space before and after. Maximum 1 per day, and definitely not every day.

4. Lots of white space planned into the calendar. This not only protects the gentle rhythm of the day, but allows for spontaneity and natural developments. One Sunday we visited friends for tea, planning to only stay an hour. We ended up staying all afternoon and for dinner. The kids (9 in total) had a great time and I thoroughly enjoyed the easy conversation, the quiet country landscape, the beautiful meal we ended up sharing.

5. Saying no. This is easier to do when you know what matters to you and what you want. See my earlier post on living an aligned life here.

Your turn:

Do you struggle with rushing? Which of these resolutions resonate with you?

Head over to my blog and let me know in the comments.

And if you’ve found this post helpful, please share it with a friend. I’d be so grateful!

Originally published at cecilepopp.com

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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