About two weeks ago I coined the term “Yogapocalypse.” It had been such a lovely evening: one of those sunny, quiet nights when the blackbirds’ throats are swollen with song, the grasses sway like an ebbing tide and jasmine wantonly throws its scent to whomever might cross its path. After over an hour of stepping forward, stepping back, taking our legs in the air, stretching up our arms, and simply enjoying the beautiful movements of a Yoga practice, it was time for me to lead my class in meditation. That week I chose a walking meditation—mindfully walking through the field adjacent to the hall where we practice, like zombies with a penchant for elasticated waists.
Surprisingly, no locals called the cops.
I was thinking about that again today because we spent the entire day skulking across a Welsh hillside, swishing nets and periodically shouting, “I’ve got one!” My youngest child’s insect project is slow work. You need to walk with quiet, careful steps. You need to be perceptive and get your eye in. You need to listen, look and wait.
And at just the right moment, SWOOSH.
Whether it’s Yoga, meditation or entomology, the thing that makes the difference in so many areas of life is that careful attention and the sudden, unexpected flash of joy…inspiration…release.
It’s interesting that many of us operate under the delusion that we need to work quickly to get the best results. My children are learning to touch-type, so they can type fast. In college I took a speed-reading class, so I could read fast. The other day a fellow runner tried hard not to scoff at my slug-like running pace, because, clearly, it’s better to be fast.
Doing equals success. Being is undervalued.
We have words for people who are slow. “Slow-poke,” “slow-coach,” “plodder.” They aren’t usually complimentary. We, as a society, don’t really value slow.
“Sorry, I’m a bit slow on the uptake.”
“I woke up late so I’m a little slow today.”
“He’s a slow reader.”
“Why is this traffic moving so slowly?!”
I’m not saying that we need to do everything slowly. If you know me, you would wonder whether I’d actually taken a speed-talking course, rather than a speed-reading course in college. I do plenty of things at speed. All I’m saying is that slowing down is not without its own fruits.
Walk quickly over a Welsh hillside and you see blue sky pierced by spears of purple foxgloves. You feel the breeze and the scent of coconut comes to you from the gorse bushes along the path. You soon get to the top of the hill and you see miles and miles of green.
Walk slowly over a Welsh hillside and you see those same things. But you also see solitary bees about their work on golden dandelion heads. You take the time to wonder about them and why they’re doing their work. You hear the trickle of a mountain stream and remove your socks so you can feel how cold it is, even in summer. You notice how the grasses sway against one another and day-flying moths flit between the stems. You might even find a five-pound note (as I did today!).
We already know at some level of ourselves that slowing down enriches our lives in unexpected ways.
The week of the Yogapocalypse, I invited my students to do one thing in the coming week extra slowly and mindfully. Brewing a cup of tea, cleaning your teeth, making your bed—any mundane or repetitive movement will do, or perhaps once that week, leave a little earlier for an errand and walk slowly. Drive in the slow lane. Take your bike instead. Wear trousers with an elasticated waist. Be part of the Yogapocalypse. You might find that, just in slowing down, without expecting it, SWOOSH: you’ve got it.
© 2016 Lisa Hassan Scott