What happens when you slow down?

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What happens when you slow down? When you stop the running around, dashing from one place to the next, focused on what’s coming and what needs to be done. What do you see, feel and hear when you can slow yourself down enough to really take in what’s around you? Well as I write this I am sitting in McDonalds on a busy half term afternoon (my kids enjoying a few hours in an adventure centre nearby) watching the families around me and contemplating my navel – well maybe not my navel!

The practice of mindfulness is quite a buzz at the moment. Being able to be in the now – not worrying about the past or the future but just living in the now. I actually love this practice and try regularly to stop and look around me. What I might see today of course is not quite as relaxing as being in beautiful countryside by a lake, but it does focus the mind none the less. As I stop writing even and look around me I see lots of children and their families enjoying time together, hanging out, talking, eating, going about their lives.

I often wonder what my children think about. I know they spend much of their time worrying about the past and the future and even about what might happen in the now for them. Who might be a threat, what might happen next to them or around them? I wonder if there are many times when they can just relax and take in the surroundings they are in. 

I know that for many people when they do slow down – go on holiday or take a rest, they get ill. It’s like the body keeps going as long as we keep pushing it and then when we allow ourselves to stop the body just crumbles. This may happen to you when it’s holiday time and you find yourself with a bad cold, pick up a virus or generally feel run down. I wonder if we slowed down more often maybe our bodies would get used to the routine of slowing down for a few minutes a day to really let our bodies catch up with our minds. Maybe then we wouldn’t crash with an almighty bump when we go on holiday.

It’s only when you slow down and really look around that you find the gifts in the things around you. I’m doing a study at the moment with some friends called One Thousand Gifts – it’s about seeing the gifts in the small everyday experiences we have, really seeing the things around you, developing an attitude of gratitude so that when you hit really difficult times you can see the gifts even in the most awful of circumstances. I love this notion. That even in the most horrible days – and there are a few as an adoptive parent – the more I cultivate this habit of seeing the gifts the more I will be able to see through the bad things (not escape them) and be able to embrace the good and bad.

I saw a quote today on Facebook and I wasn’t sure what I thought about it:

‘One can either bend or buckle under pressure. One must stop waiting for it to end and accept it, because the only way to transform suffering is to embrace it.’
Robert Earl Burton

After contemplating this just now in McDonalds (instead of contemplating my navel) I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s about seeing the gifts in everything – embracing is not about saying everything is great but it’s about accepting what is and embracing all that it teaches you – we learn more from adversity than we do from times of peace.

So whatever you’re doing today and wherever you are – stop, slow down and see what’s around you. What gifts can you find and how can you embrace what life is teaching you right now?

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