It is so easy to get caught up in the small, everyday moments of life. You forget that there are huge, enormous things to worry about, think about, take action about. Noticing the small things is very very important in being mindful. Being present in the current moment, seeing all the little reasons why life is good, improves your wellbeing. However the big picture can get lost in the daily grind of waking up, dealing with health problems, kids, cleaning the black grime off the shower, the grotty toilet, the marks and dust on the floors, paying the bills, worrying about where the next dollar is coming from, running kids around, dealing with their illnesses, doing the shopping, making the bed…planning and doing. Life is busy. And life in our current times has become based on ease, the fastest way possible to get done what needs to be done, because there seems to be so much to be doing.
Social media is driving the comparison game and while it is also so important for sharing messages about social action and change, it can become a hole that sucks you into the vortex of the next shiny thing to buy, get and do. Along with this, tasks that once took us time and energy, have become mechanised. We no longer spend half a day scrubbing clothes on a wash board, grinding seeds for flour or walking a distance to get what we need. Even getting up to get the remote can seem too much when you are deep in a binge on Netflix. There can be great things about this. I am not sure I want to scrub the clothes on a wash board! But our times are fast and greedy.
People want more and more with less and less. We want to get where we are going as fast as possible. Sitting in traffic drives me crazy. Partly because I just hate traffic and spend much of my time in our little house and local area. Partly because I am impatient. I am not alone in this. Multiple browsers open at once, on demand streaming, texts and messengers going off at all hours, event invites and seeing people’s fabulous lives, all push us to do more and want more.
Going slowly is something that some people never forgot, and happily something more of us are embracing. Whether that be in small bites, such as using mindfulness when we cook, walk or make a cup of tea, or whether it be choosing to be more self sufficient, through to an entire lifestyle change, even dropping totally off the grid.
You can find some of the peace of slow when you choose to concentrate on the task at hand. I find great peace when in creative flow for example. When writing, cooking, cleaning, gardening or creating, the focus on task leads you to a place of peace and slow. Your mind may be working fast, and thinking deeply, but your approach to the task at hand is one of total immersion, rather than distraction. Things that take some physical and mental effort are wonderful for increasing your slow. Growing some of your own food is a great example. Digging in the garden, planting, tending for your crops and harvesting them, cooking and then eating something you have grown is a glorious celebration of something that takes time.
Taking a more sustainable approach to life requires you to bring more of the slow. Planning is needed to remember to bring your reusable bags, pack the cup for your drinks, take the water bottle. More time is needed when waiting for the sun to rise to kick start your solar panels, so you can turn on the washing machine and hang out the washing. More effort is needed when planning your shopping list and managing your food waste through composting. Taking time to be slow also allows you more opportunity to consider what is around you and why you want to be more sustainable. What are you doing all of this FOR?
When you see people who have not awoken to the enormity of the need to change how we are living on the planet, it is obvious. In them you see no consideration of people and planet in their discussions about how they shop, where they shop, what they buy. They complain about the plastic bag ban meaning they will not be able to line their bins. They continue to mindlessly throw their takeaway coffee cups in the bin. They drive huge cars that they can not even manoeuvre in the car park…they laugh when you tell them you have bought compostable toothbrushes and glass jar dental floss, and wonder why you would bother with leaf tea. They tell you that we have no impact anyway as it is all the big polluters that are the problem. They take no responsibilty for their own actions and continue to live life in a way that is all about convenience.
Knowing why you are making changes in your life is important. Some people will never care as much as you and I about trees and animals and the loss of habitats and environments. Some people will never understand how their mindless tossing away of straws, plastic bags and balloons can kill. And anyway why would they care? Sometimes they just need more time, more exposure, more messages. Sometimes they are just who they are. What matters is who YOU are and why you are making these changes. Knowing this will cradle you when it is hard. Knowing this will help you to stop feeling unsure. While you need to try not to experience too much eco-anxiety, knowing matters. Remember all the reasons why.
For me, every time I look into the eyes of my beautiful children and think about their future I remember. Every time I see a bird in the sky, a koala high in a speckled pink barked gum tree on my daily walk, hear the frogs in the creek and the ducks waddling along with their fluffy brown chicks, I remember. Every time I speak to another human being who understands and cares about people and planet, I feel nourished. It lifts me up and makes me want to take less, do more and bring more of the slow. Connect with other people who get this. Allow them to support you in taking some time to be slow. Stop and look out into the world and you will see a million reasons why.