As I reflect on how I want to experience this fall, I’m reminded about a parenting workshop I attended years ago at my son’s Montessori school on peace-based education. The seminar offered kids and parents a model for conflict resolution and ideas on how to have more mindful interactions with one another.
As I sat listening to our two sage teachers share the importance of listening from the heart (rather than from the head), taking time to really “see” and hear one another, and being present so you can respond rather than react in the moment—I kept thinking of the reminder that I often hear from my wise husband as we move through our always too busy week: “Slower is better.”
Does the thought of slowing down make your heart race as you look at the mountains of obligations, daily tasks, household chores and work duties before you? Think slow is for slackers? I used to, too.
Slowing down and doing less are easier said than done, and they require a radical paradigm shift for most of us. This mindfulness practice requires us to distinguish our inner life from our outward productivity and asks us to be willing to release old habits and ways of being (read more about living inside-out).
When I was thirty years old, I was a public relations director in a very stressful job. I fit the persona of an overachiever, and I loved the strokes that came with overachieving; I was addicted to having a super busy mind, schedule, and life. I was also exhausted and frankly doubted I could sustain the pace (really, this level of mental activity—or insanity). Over time, my job, relationships, and well-being were all suffering from my speeded-up life.
I began working with a great therapist/presence coach named Frances. She teaches clients how to slow down on the inside so that you can actually be more effective and wise in all areas of your life. For a long time, I thought (somewhat smugly), “This will never work for me. She just doesn’t understand my world. How can I slow down and still get things done?” Successfully juggling and anticipating solutions for ten different projects simultaneously was my hallmark! But slowly I integrated her coaching into my life, and I began to understand the connection between my inner state of being and how I see and respond to my outer world. As I cultivated more awareness for my inner world—and began to slow down on the inside– it had a huge impact: I lived more in the present, decreased anxiety, and improved my mood in large part by creating more space between my thoughts and my reactions.
From stillness also came discernment: I began to see what really mattered to me, and my life purpose and path became clear. And, I actually did become much wiser and more effective at work!
My work with Frances during my early thirties led directly to my model for balanced living that I teach and try to live by today. Focusing on five key insights: practice “good is good enough,” learn to manage your energy and say no, ask for and receive help, practice self-care, and live more in the present has been life-changing. Integrating these five practices into my life over the past 17 years has had a profound and lasting impact on my well-being.
Do I believe slower is better? YES! In many ways slowing down and pausing—especially when your plate is really full—is like a secret weapon. It’s the only way I know to navigate the crazy, speeded-up, chaotic world we live in. The challenge is just to remember this moment to moment.
SUPPORT FOR SLOWING DOWN:
- Attend one of my self-renewal retreats and receive high-level support, mentoring and explore new ways of being. Psst—self-employed and live in Texas? Don’t miss www.UnleashedATX.com Sept. 15 at McKinney Roughs Nature Area.
- Schedule me to speak in 2018 to your organization, company or team on work-life effectiveness, mindfulness & resiliency. Learn more.
- Explore the idea of facilitating or joining our Personal Renewal Groups for women (in 10 countries worldwide); becoming a RTA-Certified Facilitator can be a great way to transition to a new career field, find community and learn the art of self-care.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness and life balance speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.