“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”
Does your boss expect you to tight-rope a line between sky-scrapers moving as fast as you possibly can, carrying coffee, the latest finance report and maybe balancing a conference agenda on your little finger? Are you constantly battling your own time to get from home to work, and back again amid traffic, city noise, and the Nascar speed of work-a-day commuters hell-bent on making the signal before it turns red? Are you constantly battling the clock to get your kids to their next game, or yourself to your next appointment in time? If any of these scenarios sounds all too familiar, you live in a westernized culture, where speed takes precedence over quality . . . but faster doesn’t always mean better. Slowing down in a whirligig world offers more benefits than you might imagine, and there’s one practice that helps us slow the heck down better than any other.
Slowing Down May Help You Lose weight
You might be tempted to scarf down a meal so that you can get ‘more’ accomplished in your already busy day, but research has proven that eating more slowly, and mindfully may actually help you to make better food choices, and even lose weight. One study even suggests that fast eaters are much more likely to be obese than their slower-eating counterparts.
People who meditate can also slow the mind’s incessant thoughts. For over-eaters, this means they can see the emotion behind an urge to overindulge in sweets or calorie-laden foods and decide whether or not to act on that urge. Mindful eating is even its own form of meditation.
Slowing Down Can Help Your Wounds Heal Faster
Whether it’s a bunged up knee, a tennis elbow, or even recovering from a major surgery, it turns out that slowing our pace can also help the body recover from wounds more quickly. When we slow our hectic lives, we also reduce stress, and this stress reduction turns out to be critical for re-directing the body’s physiological resources towards healing. If you think of your body’s energy like money in a bank account, you can easily imagine why setting time aside for quiet contemplation, or even a short nap can help free up some energy for repair and recuperation needed in our muscles, our brains, and even our energetic bodies, before the body is ‘in the red.’
Meditation Can Slow Even the Busiest of Brain Wave Patterns
There’s one way that’s proven to slow down a hectic pace, and that’s meditation. In fact, the very act of meditating slows the brainwave patterns from a gamma state – one that is usually responsible for hyperactivity in the brain and active learning, to alpha and theta brain wave states. These later states of brain oscillation are where our brain waves start to slow down and we become calm and grounded. In a primarily theta state of brain wave action (or non-action you could say) we finally enter a meditative state where the mind withdraws from verbal/thinking states to a state of visual awareness. Though this state is extremely relaxing, it is also responsible for come of our most complicated problem solving.
Slowing Down Can Reduce Stress
Sara Lazar, a Harvard researcher has found that the brain can rebuild itself with just 8 weeks of ‘cooling our jets’ using mindfulness practices, but there are thousands of studies proving that when we slow down, our stress levels take a nose dive, too.
People who meditate are also able to calm anxious thoughts that tend to take center stage when we have other things we’d much rather be focusing on. Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders points out that mindfulness training, or slowing the brain’s thoughts, can actually give us space to see that “‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self.”
Slowing Down in Life Can Also Slow the Aging Process
Yet another study has proven that slowing down by using meditation actually slows the rate at which our cells age. Since our chronological age usually determines how much closer to our final days we actually are, it makes sense that slowing cellular age, might also prolong our lives. Literature reviewing cellular aging indicates that even a few short meditation sessions a week can lengthen our telomeres – and reduce additional stresses that cause us to age faster.
Thich Nhat Hahn, offers an easy way to slow the chaos around us in his book, Being Peace: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” The present moment isn’t something we have to chase after. It’s right in front of us when we simply SLOW DOWN.
Image credit: theodysseyonline.com
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