What I've Learned from Slowing Down

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Our culture loves the hustle. Just a scroll through social media is peppered with the phrases “But first coffee…” or “Hustle and heart.” And some days that’s true. Some hustle is absolutely necessary—extra caffeine, too. But after a couple of years of running myself into the ground, becoming used to tight shoulders and a tight jaw and a writing a page-long to-do list every Monday I asked myself one question: Why exactly was I doing this?

My best friend Jacki, and my partner in Rock Your Bliss and I often talk about the “hustle to worthiness.” We’ve been programmed to believe that until the clothes are perfectly folded, the to-do list is complete, our workout has been “crushed” and we’ve plated a perfect looking dinner, we are not worthy. Just a scroll through Instagram is full of these exact images. But we aren’t talking about the cost of this perfection: our mental health, our breath, our inner relationship, our human-ness. We aren’t robots.

So I started with an experiment. Every weeknight at 8 PM, I’d put my phone on Airplane mode and not take it off until I’d meditated in the morning. The first night I felt kind of panicky. What if someone tried to reach me and couldn’t? Well, then they couldn’t. When I woke up the next morning I took my time making my coffee and sitting in my yoga space taking slow, deep breaths. And when I my phone came off Airplane there were a couple frantic texts. But they were frantic only because someone needed something from me and I’d put up a boundary and took some time to start my day on my own terms.

Guess what? That’s okay. And not only is it okay, it feels good.

Since then I’ve stuck to this pretty regularly. I’ve spent more time outside in the park with a paperback and my journal. I’ve definitely taken more deep breaths. And I’ve started every morning on my own terms, rather than a habitual Instagram scroll and some frantic texting. I’ve learned the beauty of the pause, or the space in between the chaos. Pressing pause is such a wonderful tool to garner more peace and gratitude. It’s good for your stress levels and your ability to express kindness. It’s one of the few things that combats that need for perfection, and it’s so easy to do.  

Here's a few ideas to help you pause:

Bring just a notebook. 
Whether I’m heading to a coffee shop or a park, I love to challenge myself to bring nothing but a notebook. No iPhone, no computer, just a pen and paper. It gives me time to reflect and dream up some new ideas for classes or creative projects.

Let things be messy. 
As a definitely Virgo, I thrive with order. That being said, I’ve learned to enjoy a bit of mess. Deciding not to make our bed on a Saturday or leaving some dishes in the sink. There’s a life to be lived and the world is a very messy place. I’m the one who is going to spend all my time trying to clean and order it? It’ll drive you mad.

Get a library card. 
I admit that I do love to read on my iPad, but after spending way too much time with that brightly lit screen I started heading down to our local library and getting some books there. And it’s free!

Just lay there. 
Your alarm goes off and you dash out of bed or pick of your phone. Try just laying there for awhile. Maybe you a pup or a human to cuddle with? Maybe you pick up a book for a few minutes? Starting your day slowly will slow everything down.

Take yourself on date. 
Whether it’s to the bathtub with a glass of wine or kombucha and a paperback or to a movie matinee I love some alone time. Challenge yourself to do something that scares you, like sitting in a restaurant solo or taking a hip-hop dance class. The alone time (and the bravery it took to get there) are vastly rewarding.

Connect. 
On our Rock Your Bliss podcast we often ask in our Rapid Fire questions whether people prefer phone calls or text. The majority say text. We are living in a culture where true human connection is going extinct. Rather than catching up with a friend over the phone, schedule a time to be together or take a new class. Make eye contact. Write a letter.

Walk.
 I live in Los Angeles, which is an amazing city but not the friendliest of walking cities. That being said, there’s plenty of areas you can explore on foot. There’s art museums. And parks. And historic districts. I’m sure they same goes for your hometown—where can you go? Can you take a break from the speed of a car and enjoy slower-paced journey? Pick a new area to explore or run your errands on foot.

Let these ideas serve as inspiration. Try them out or develop your own. Either way, slow down and notice the details with your sacred pause.

This first appeared on Wanderlust.com.