SUDDENLY, WE FOUND OURSELVES IN LIMBO, WITH MANY OF US HAVING PARTS OF OUR LIFE SUB-CONSCIOUSLY DECELERATE TO A HALT.
A FORCED SHIFT FROM OUTWARDS TO INWARDS, FROM YANG TO YIN, FROM FAST TO SLOW – NOT BY INTENTION OR CHOICE, BUT BECAUSE THE HEALTH OF OUR COMMUNITY DEPENDS ON IT. AND HERE WE SIT, INDIVIDUALLY BUT COLLECTIVELY, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN COMFORT AND DISCOMFORT.
AS SOMEONE WHO ADVOCATES FOR A SLOWER LIFE, I’VE CHANNELED MY CURIOSITY INTO THIS COLLECTIVE SLOWDOWN. IS THERE A SILVER LINING FROM THIS? CAN WE LEAN IN AND TRUST AMIDST ALL THIS UNCERTAINTY? CAN WE COME OUT THE OTHER END OF THIS MORE RESILIENT AND COMMUNITY-MINDED, AS BOTH INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES?
NATURALLY, WITH MY CURIOSITY ABOUT THIS COLLECTIVE SLOWDOWN PIQUED, I’VE BEEN CHATTING TO BUSINESS OWNERS AND THOUGHT LEADERS ABOUT THIS QUESTION TOO, INCLUDING THOSE WHO WERE ALREADY LIVING A SLOW LIFE, AND WANTED TO SHARE SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS WITH YOU.
Lotte Barnes – Worn Store + The Veda Way
Right now, we are doing our best to be optimistic and see opportunities rather than contracting, even when there certainly is a daunting reality at our door in a financial realm. It’s real and we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we are just leaning in, holding tight and letting this unfold as it universally needs.
If you look at it from the Vedic worldview, there are three main cycles within life; maintenance, destruction, creation. We are always sitting in one. The ideal is creation as it’s about evolution and that is all nature wants for us is to evolve and be in flow with nature. So if we aren’t in creation we are in maintenance or destruction (where we are now globally).
So when we don’t recognise or make changes for ourselves or as a collective, nature will do it for us so that evolution can take place. This is how I see the current state of events – that we haven’t collectively made the change that nature / the universe / the greater cosmic collective needs, so it has stepped into play to force us where change is required.
I am seeing this as an opportunity for growth, creation, greater connection and consciousness as a whole. The work is to move away from fear, trust what is unfolding, be of service where possible, look after one another and the environment.
There is such power in coming together – we are seeing this play out over and over. Especially for small businesses, it’s a time to support, come together and also think and act differently. Not in reaction and contraction, but in expansion.
Creativity is our strength. We need to move slowly, and think things through.
Kate Pascoe-Squires, The Slowdown Press
I’ve been writing about my own personal slowdown for more than a year now… but it’s funny, after a self-imposed week in virtual lockdown at home, what I thought was a slowdown really was not. Ha! Those were the days…
After seven days of a virtually empty diary (well, lots of scribbled out commitments and appointments – I’m old school), I can’t believe how much pace our lives had picked up this year. It was an accident. It really was. But it happened and boy did it happen quickly.
So now, we really are in the slow. Almost in the stop.
My small business consulting has dried up for the time being and I’m ok with that (I acknowledge my absolute privilege that my husband still has his job and is able to provide for us, for now). I had a whole lot of plans to expand my business concept this year, but I’ve got my head around the fact that it’s not going to happen now. I actually got my head around this very quickly, which I was pleased about. And with limited angst. It’s just the reality of the situation.
Our kids are now at home and I am teaching them. We are only a few days in, but I am enjoying having more contact with them. Weird. I didn’t expect that. With the endless merry-go-round of school drop offs, bag packing, lunch making, reminders, excursion notes and extra-curricular activities, I have this year become a ringmaster and my family, the circus. We all had so much “on” – all good stuff, mind you, but still stuff – but didn’t have much bandwidth left for each other.
So for now, we are all bunkered in together. Who knows how things will go down? I’m still sneaking out for a daily swim in the ocean under the cover of darkness and could cry at the thought of that being taken away. But other than that, we are good. We have our house, we have food… and we have wine. It’s a scary time, but we have to approach whatever is thrown our way with grace, grit and love. We will all have to be fluid. We will find ways to survive, of course we will, but there will be pain for most of us between here and there.
Read more from The Slowdown Press online.
Tahnee McCrossin – Superfeast + Yin Yoga Teacher
In the Taoist tradition, health and illness arise from the relationship between Yin and Yang. In a harmonious relationship, the swing from Yin to Yang is subtle, barely noticed. We adjust our course quickly, are moderate in all things and mirror ourselves against the cycles of nature. Who these days recognises this? Out of alignment with these cycles, we swing wildly or lean too far in one direction. We celebrate what is unsustainable, on every level of being.
The sense I have in these times, is that we have leaned too far. We are in times that feel uncharted in our modern memory because we’ve been riding the wave of Yang for so long now. The outward expression, the cult of busy, the neglect for our inner world and our spiritual lives. The shadow, the dark side of our excessive time in the spotlight is gathering.
Who amongst us remembers a time when Sundays were sacred, when evenings were lit by firelight and quiet conversation or when a holiday meant throwing the kids in the car and driving to a wild place for a long weekend or to your grandparents’ farm? When health meant living close to the land, being strong and sunkissed and robust and capable. Instead of skinny and orthorexic and expensive.
My teacher Paul Grilley puts it like this (and I paraphrase), Yin is mentally the exhale, the ahhhh, and physically it’s the inhale. It’s the opportunity to rejuvenate, to massage ourselves back into shape, to pull ourselves back into harmony with the universe. And by ourselves, I mean each of us individually but also collectively. When we pause, what do we see? What do we learn in this space?
I have been in isolation for four days now and I am not rushing out the door every morning with my toddler. I am home, with my family, making meals and playing in the morning sun. I am staying within my neighbourhood, which means my money circulates amongst my community. I am supporting those who tend the land and raise the animals I eat. I am focusing on my business and my team and on my practice and my students. Everything extraneous has disappeared.
The vital, the essential, the truth is all that remains.
This perspective is a huge shift. I am only purchasing what we absolutely need because I don’t know if we’ll have a paycheck in weeks to come. I am planting seeds and making a savings plan. I’m remembering the advice, the wisdom, of people who lived through hard times – grandparents, great grandparents, who saved for a rainy day. If this wasn’t the time to check ourselves collectively I don’t know what is.
Yin is the time for the wisdom of the action to absorb. The savasana at the end of a yoga class is important because without it, we rush back to life and we miss the powerful transformations that occur when we are still after action.
How many of us after completing a project or a task take rest? Take pause, reflect, contemplate? Yin is sacred because it is all that transforms and that transformation In reflection and repose. Yin can be uncomfortable and uncelebrated. It’s our inner world, our darkness, our stillness, our emptiness, our lack, our quiet, our femininity, our watery nature, the parts of us that are submerged in order that the sun of Yang may shine.
Of course, Yang is required for health. Yin is not the ONLY path, but it’s a part of the harmonious truth that we all, deep in our bones, long for.
Nature offers us her gift of transformation every year but how many of us listen? How many of us, after the excess of summer, slow down, stay warm and quiet and sleep and rest and reflect through the winter? I don’t mean to paint these changes, this transformation, as easy. It may be bitter, or painful, or restrictive, like a snake shedding its skin. But the relief once the changes are made, once the transition is through, it’s palpable, isn’t it?
I will leave you with this concept from the ancient Chinese text, Tao Te Ching;
无为而无不为 （wuwei er wubuwei)
“Do nothing and everything gets done”
This is the essence of the Tao and our submerging into Yin will help us understand and embody this concept.
You can shop SuperFeast supplements online.
Nina Karnikowski – Travel Writer & Author
Without discounting the obvious heartbreak and fear most of us are experiencing right now, in some ways this is something many of us have wished for over the years. A chance to hit the pause button on life for a while, so we can move from being merely reactive and going through the motions of these lives we have created for ourselves – that often we aren’t very happy with – to being observant and quiet. To peek into our lives from the outside and recognise what’s working and what isn’t, and how we can begin to adjust things so we can come back into harmony with what our souls truly desire.
The way I see it, this is a time for us to discover areas of ourselves that we have forgotten. To finally allow ourselves time to play and learn and experiment. In many ways we are incredibly lucky – we live in a time when we can teach ourselves almost anything online, from knitting to making pasta, from writing poetry to a new language, from permaculture to photography.
A friend of mine, a mother of two who is also working from home, has committed to switching off the news for most of the day and is teaching herself to juggle in the time she has regained from that. I, on the other hand, am getting quiet and clear about an idea for a novel that has been playing around the corners of my mind for months. Now, I finally have the time to tease it out and see if it really has wings.
We spend over a third of our lives working – 84,000 hours or so, on average. As one of my favourite poets John O’Donohue once said; “One of the loneliest things you can find is somebody who is in the wrong kind of work, who shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing, and haven’t the courage to get up and leave it and make a new possibility for themselves.”
I agree wholeheartedly and only hope that more of us take this time to re-evaluate what we’re spending our one precious life doing and whether we’re really using it to express our inner gifts (which, by the way, I believe every single one of us has). By mining ourselves for those gifts and revealing them, we’re offering an incredible service to the world.
Nina Karnikowski is the author of Make a Living Living: Be Successful Doing What You Love ($30, Laurence King Publishing), on sale now.
Emica Penklis – Loco Love
Firstly I must address all of the people that are hurting right now, it’s real pain and I pray you find peace with the change.
Change the only thing in life that is certain. With change comes uncertainty, with this uncertainty we must lean into trust.
To know that there is a bigger plan at play, the earth could not sustain our current system. Things were too fast, too greedy and most people I know we’re feeling the effects first hand. Tired, busy, strung out, couldn’t sleep, depression at an all time high. When we had more ‘luxury’ than ever before!
This ‘virus’ is symbolic of how we are acting as a virus on the planet. There are laws in nature and one I wholeheartedly believe in is the law of ‘as above, so below’. Which basically means the microcosm (us) reflects the macrocosm (the world). Our collective beliefs and actions are creating our reality, so if we want to create a new world we better start imagining our utopia and get to work. This situation has shown us how interconnected we are, so let’s get out of fear and into self empowerment. No one is going to save us except ourselves, maybe we can stop blaming the government and bring the power back to the people. Being aware, discerning and educated and making conscious choices on where we are directing our energy is paramount.
If we look at healing, the hero’s journey or any type of spiritual awakening, generally a pre-cursor is a dark night of the soul type experience. Where you realise that there is no one left to blame but yourself and taking a radical approach to self-responsibility is the only way out. The only way out is through, it hurts, you feel like you’re going to die at times though on the other side is sovereignty and inner peace. Perhaps the earth is going through a mass awakening and we are in the dark night of the soul part before we reach heaven on earth.
I am an eternal (but not ignorant) optimist and believe that if everyone woke up to their power as a human collective we will create a utopia together. This change is going to strip away anything that isn’t useful anymore, the earth is polluted with so much junk, physically and energetically. We actually don’t need much to be happy, we need creativity (free), we need food (which we can grow), we need water (free) and most of all we need each other (free)! We don’t need 5 cars, 300 pairs of shoes and a 14 step skin care routine, this has been sold to us by advertising to make us spend more money.
If you are on the earth right now you are not here by mistake, you have a part to play in this shift. Things are going to become more local, less air travel, more time with loved ones, more time at home in our gardens and business is going to have to change too.
The human mind when in flight and fight mode can not see clearly, this slowdown is a good time to really tune into our parasympathetic nervous system. When we slow down and get into the rest and digest response we can learn to share, to find peace with ourselves, use our intuition and to most importantly LOVE each other.
You can still shop Loco Love online.