We live in a fast world.

Fast food, fast cars, fast walk, fast lane. It’s not that I’m against fast. There’s a time and place for everything. But my feeling is that fast has taken over. We don’t even know we’re doing it. This fast living. This fast working. It’s become so habitual we don’t notice how odd it is that we don’t have time for the things that really matter to us and we’re never ahead of the game. Fast just seems to create more fast. Hamster on a wheel springs to mind. I know I’m being very inclusive here and not everyone is caught in the trap of fast but enough of us are to urge me to bring ‘slow’ into focus for some gentle meanderings and leisurely explorations of its beauty and merit.

Wow, I think I just breathed.

It’s interesting that whilst I was writing about fast I didn’t come up for air. Mentioning slow gave me permission to breathe. To take in some air. Air and breathing. They are a fine place to start in the beauty of slow. And they are forefront of mind as I attended Anders Olsson’s Conscious Breathing course last Saturday. It was enlightening. In many ways. A few things stick in my mind. One is the unconscious holding-of-the-breath habit many of us have (yes I’ve just seen that one in action up above). Our bodies are not so keen on this. Another is that we are breathing too fast in our lives in the fast lane. We are taking too many breaths per minute. Again this is not so great for our bodies. We need to slow our breathing down. Our wellbeing depends on slow. Beautiful Slow.

This theme of Beautiful Slow came to me this morning. Earlier this week, with writing day coming up, I’d had some ideas about what I would write and had a few favourite themes as yet unwritten. My intention had been to choose one of them but I didn’t need to. The theme of the day chose me. And it all started with the radiator in my bedroom waking me up earlier than my alarm clock. I was surprised. I wasn’t aware that the heating timer was on. And then I realised that last night, arriving home late after a long busy day, I’d switched the timer on to warm the house as I went to bed, forgetting that the morning timer was then on automatically too. Clearly yesterday I was living fast. Squashing too many things into the day. Thinking about lots of things. Not remembering how my own central heating was set up to work should I switch it on to timer.

Having said all that, the rather pleasant consequence of this sleep-disturbing early morning radiator incident, was a more leisurely approach to my morning routine than expected, allowing me to make myself a cup of tea and snuggle back into bed whilst I pondered on the day ahead. Lily the cat was quite delighted with this unusual occurrence and leapt up on the bed to play. After running around and being generally kittenish (in a 4 year old cat kind of way) she ceremoniously arranged herself at the foot of the bed and began to wash. It’s been a while since I watched her wash with my full attention and what a joy it was. She showed such devotion to the task. Such devotion to herself. She took her time. She washed slowly. It was a beautiful sight. ‘Slow’ crept into my awareness. The beauty of it. The theme of Beautiful Slow had just presented itself as wanting expression today.

And it’s been quite delicious I have to say…focussing on slow all day.

There’s been an attentiveness and attitude of care going on with Beautiful Slow that’s hard to manage with fast.

Beautiful Slow gave me a chance to notice that the house was a bit of a mess reflecting a week without much slow in it. So I tidied up. Slowly. Picking things up off the floor. A towel in the bathroom. My yoga mat still in the lounge from Wednesday’s home-yoga. A few random books strewn around my office. Others bits and pieces all over the house.

Beautiful Slow gave washing the dishes a whole new meaning. There’s been a thoroughness and gentleness in the task reminiscent of Lily’s grooming and washing this morning.

Beautiful Slow showed me the unconscious habits I have when working at my computer. I may have had these habits for years, and yet they’ve remained outside my awareness. The holding-of-breath habit I’ve already mentioned. Concentration habits of lower-lip biting and staring at the screen with intensity which actually hurt my eyes. And then there’s tapping away at the keyboard with such fast purposefulness that perhaps my neighbours can hear. This tapping brought attention to the tension in my arms. I had no idea my arms were tense through keyboard tapping. I had no idea about any of these habits of fast until today. And now that I am aware, I’m conscious they most likely affect my body and physical wellbeing in a not very positive way. So they are highly worthy of note. Worthy of note with an attitude of curiosity and kindness. Beating myself up about my habits of fast has not been allowed today, on this Beautiful Slow day.

Alongside noticing more today with Beautiful Slow as my companion, I’ve connected more too. There’s been lots of wonderful connection.

I’ve had more time for people with Beautiful Slow mode. I’ve been more present and more able to see them. I’ve listened and shared. With a newcomer to the lunch-time yoga class. I know things about her now. I’ll look forward to seeing her again. With my neighbour of a few doors away. I learned we moved into our respective homes within a month of each other and both of us had thought the other had been here for years before we had moved in ourselves. And there’s more. More enriching conversations. More enriching connection.

It’s been wonderful. This slow day. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

And yes, it’s been made easier by being a writing day at home with no commute required. That said, I do want to stay focussed on Beautiful Slow beyond today. I want to prove to myself that embracing Beautiful Slow will not result in the bottom falling out of my world. On the contrary I have a suspicion that if I can incorporate Beautiful Slow into my daily rhythm I’ll be more effective, more present and more energised.

So as we approach and enter December, the month of busy, let’s go beautifully slow. Even if external events demand a fast pace, let’s see if we can remain beautifully slow inside. Let’s create a rhythm for the festive season which allows true connection, true joy and true goodwill to all men, in work and play.

Are you up for it?