The Art of Slow Living: The Beauty of Slow
“Living a life of purpose is an aspiration that eludes many. And as more and more people are acknowledging that faster isn’t always better, slow living philosophy has a lot to teach us about about finding deeper meaning, cultivating mindfulness, and achieving a more balanced and fulfilling existence.” -Harriette-Rose
In a world of fast fashion, fast food and fast content, the Slow Living movement is gaining popularity as an antidote to the fast-paced and often stressful nature of modern life. It encourages individuals to intentionally slow down, simplify their lives, and embrace a more mindful and deliberate approach to daily living. So, what can we learn from this growing movement as Reiki Practitioners? Let’s start by looking at what slow living really means.
The Meaning of Slow Living
One of the most significant misconceptions about slow living is that it promotes laziness or inactivity. But slow living is not actually about doing everything slowly; rather, it’s about making deliberate, conscious choices each day that align with one’s values to create a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
At the core of the slow living lifestyle is the principle of simplicity. It advocates for simplifying one’s life by reducing unnecessary clutter and commitments and letting go of the excess, to encourage you to focus more on what truly matters to you. Instead of pursuing material wealth or accumulating possessions, slow living emphasizes quality over quantity in all aspects of life, whether it’s the food you eat, the products you buy, or the experiences you engage in.
The overarching goal of slow living is to reduce stress and increase well-being by staying connected to the things that matter most. In a world where “fast” often equates to convenience but not necessarily contentment, slow living invites us to rediscover the value of the moment and the significance of being fully present in our experiences. In essence, it’s about getting off autopilot, and pursuing meaningful goals and passions at a pace that supports your personal wellbeing. It’s about savouring life’s experiences rather than constantly rushing through them.
Some people may embrace slow living in just one aspect of their lives, such as eating and cooking mindfully, while others may adopt it more comprehensively across everything they do. It’s not a one-size-fits all concept, or a rigid set of rules that everyone must follow in the same way, but instead a personal philosophy and journey that can look different for each individual.
When did the Slow Living Movement Begin?
The slow living movement finds its roots in the Slow Food movement, which was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986. Slow Food began as a protest against the opening of a fast-food restaurant in the heart of Rome and aimed to promote local, traditional, and sustainable food production and consumption. It emphasized the importance of savouring meals, connecting with local food producers, and engaging in activities around sustainability.
In 2004, Carl Honoré, a prominent author, journalist, and speaker in the realm of the slow movement, played a pivotal role in popularizing the concept of slow living beyond the realm of food, when he published his book: “In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed.” Honoré explored how the slow approach could be applied to various aspects of life, from work and relationships, to parenting and leisure activities.
Inspired by both the Slow Food movement and Honoré’s book, the slow living movement has expanded over the years to encompass a broader range of lifestyle choices and include principles such as mindfulness, simplicity, sustainability, and work-life balance.
Fast-forward to today and the movement continues to resonate with many people seeking a more meaningful and intentional way of living.
In fact, interest in the movement increased significantly during the pandemic when the whole world was forced to slow down and re-evaluate their priorities. More and more people took up new hobbies and rediscovered old ones as a way of making the most of their time in lockdown, others started baking or trying out new recipes, we all made sure to call friends and family to check in, and found a new appreciation for the natural world as spending time outside became a luxury we celebrated. As the busyness of modern life came to an unexpected halt, we learnt to connect with intentionality in our activities.
“…In a world where “fast” often equates to convenience but not necessarily contentment, slow living invites us to rediscover the value of the moment and the significance of being fully present in our experiences.” – Harriette-Rose Malone
Moments of everyday deceleration
Slow living activities encourage mindfulness, simplicity, and a more deliberate, unhurried approach to life. Here are some examples of slow living activities:
- Meditation or mindful breathing
- Cooking or baking
- Nature Walks
- Taking a bath
- Tea or coffee rituals
- Writing a letter or card to someone
- Arranging cut or dried flowers in your home
- Doing something creative with your hands
- Listening to music
- Sitting in silence
- Meaningful conversation
- Using natural and eco-friendly products
These activities, while diverse, share a common thread of encouraging a more conscious and unhurried approach to life.
Similarities between Slow Living Lifestyle and the Reiki Lifestyle
Of course, as Reiki Practitioners we are no strangers to the concept of intentionality and mindfulness. Reiki is an energy healing practice rooted in mindfulness, encouraging individuals to be fully present in each moment. Reiki offers an opportunity to retreat from the frenetic pace of modern living, and find solace in self-reflection, peaceful presence, and a deeper connection with self and others. Every session begins with the setting of specific intentions. And of course, the Five Reiki Principles which Usui gifted his students, encourage us to live with more purpose and intention everyday, in order invite more happiness and wellness into our lives.
Whilst slow living is a movement, and Reiki is ancient healing practice, there are certainly many meaningful connections between the slow living philosophy and the Reiki way of life. Both celebrate gratitude as an important aspect of what it means to live well, striving to notice the small joys on a day-to-day basis rather than living your life from one high to the next. Both adopt a more holistic view of wellbeing, acknowledging that the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a person are interconnected, and must all be addressed for overall wellness. Both approaches also foster deeper connections with oneself, others, and the environment.
Of course, neither of these lifestyles claim to be a magical solution capable of erasing all life’s challenges, stresses, or commitments. Instead, they simply provide frameworks and tools that enable you to prioritize your well-being and establish boundaries to safeguard your energy. These approaches foster self-awareness, personal growth, and self-love, emphasizing the importance of extending forgiveness and compassion towards oneself while striving for a balanced and fulfilling life, acknowledging that perfection is an unrealistic and unattainable ideal.
None of us are invincible, and it’s impossible to have complete control over every aspect of life at all times. However, we can navigate life with greater awareness and intention, paying conscious attention to our path. In a world that operates at breakneck speed, where instant gratification and constant connectivity have become the norm, it’s easy to slip into autopilot. We may unintentionally prioritize tasks that seem urgent but aren’t genuinely important, to create a disconnect between our daily actions and our true priorities.
In order to actually spend time more meaningfully, we must first decide what holds true meaning for us. We must find our own ‘slow living manifesto,’ or our reason for slowing down, by asking ourselves ‘what does a life well lived look like?’ and ‘what (and who) is most important to us?’
Personally, I love the idea of slowly curating your life, moving towards the things that make you happy, giving time and energy only to things that support your highest good. I think as Reiki Practitioners, we can relate to the tenets of the slow living movement; and blend in many of its key ideas to our energy work and businesses to promote a more intentional and balanced way of living when navigating life’s multifaceted demands.
Living a life of purpose is an aspiration that eludes many. And as more and more people are acknowledging that faster isn’t always better, slow living philosophy has a lot to teach us about about finding deeper meaning, cultivating mindfulness, and achieving a more balanced and fulfilling existence.
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