“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu
Full confession: I like fast. I like to move fast, work fast, learn fast. My dad used to tease me about how quickly I walk. “That’s not walking; that’s sprinting.” I love running and zipping across town on my bike. I like page-turners.
But I’m embracing the power of slow.
Anat Baniel, a clinical psychologist and dancer, teaches people how to overcome limitations and find joy in their lives. She guides people through deceptively simple, gentle movements, which she says rewire the brain to learn. She’s had amazing success helping children with severe disabilities learn to walk and live full lives. One of the nine essentials in her method is slow.
“Fast, we can only do what we already know,” she writes. “That is how the brain works. To learn and master new skills and overcome limitation, the first thing to do is slow way down. Slow actually gets the brain’s attention and stimulates the formation of rich new neural patterns. Slow gets us out of the automatic mode in our movements, speech, thoughts and social interactions.”
I was reminded of the power of slow recently when I learned to code eBooks and revamp my websites. Frustration dissolved when I let go of hurrying and simply allowed myself the time and space to learn. The process became fun.
I’m astonished at how quickly problems evaporate when I simply ease my foot off the gas pedal, whether it’s a toddler tantrum or a disagreement with my husband or a piece of writing that’s not coming together. And slowing down transformed the way I cook and eat.
But I’m the most amazed by how slowing down can instantly transform the way I see the world. The moment comes bursting into life. My senses turn on. Everything is rich and vibrant and alive.
I still like fast. I just realize that it has its place. Fast is best when we’ve taken the time to learn something and already mastered it. “When we do something fast, and without tension, it can be both exhilarating to do and exciting to witness. Our brains are built to turn slow into fast,” Baniel writes.
But to grow and change and to really experience our lives, we must harness the power of slow.
I am fortunate to live with true experts in slow. When a walk turns into an opportunity to inspect a blade of grass or watch a snail inch across the sidewalk, I’m usually tempted to hurry my boys along. But when I crouch to inspect a pile of rocks or listen to two crows calling to each other, I am nearly always grateful to have such brilliant teachers in the art of slow.
Have you learned to embrace the power of slow? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.