How Do People Around the World Practice the Art of Slowing Down
by Michael Teh
A life of appreciation requires the regular practise of slowing down. In the pursuit of success or a “better life,” people often forgo their peace of mind. When we take time to really notice the world around us, we can see it for what it really is.
Take a look at some of the interesting cultural practices people around the world are doing to slow down.
“As a believer of meditation, I cannot stress enough how much joy there is in slowing down, quieting the mind, and focusing on breathing, which immediately releases tension in the body. This whole shift into an inner space brings awareness into our daily lives.”
Whether you are a fan of martial arts or not, you have probably heard this famous quote from martial arts legend Bruce Lee: “Be like water”. This quote means that we should not get trapped in a certain mindset. Instead, we should be able to adapt to certain situations, grow and change: this is how we can take on the characteristics of water. When we are the water, we are prepared to move and when we move, we heal. We take on a form of self-understanding and appreciate life better.
Talking about navigating life begins with the simple act of navigating the space around you and becoming more aware of your actions. It is a practice that requires a change in perception and awareness.
In a chaotic world, learning the art of slowing down may not be easy, but the benefits outweigh everything else. As a believer of meditation, I cannot stress enough how much joy there is in slowing down, quieting the mind, and focusing on breathing, which immediately releases tension in the body. This whole shift into an inner space brings awareness into our daily lives. And at the end of the day, it’s not just about creating a flexible body, but a flexible mind.
In this blog, I’d like to share some of the calming rituals and traditions that help people around the world find peace or slow down. I hope you can be inspired by them, and if you combine them with meditation, the experience will be even better. Read on to learn more.
1. Shinrin-yoku (Forest Bathing)
Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing in Japanese, is the simple and therapeutic act of spending time in a forest.
If you’ve ever walked through a forest, listening to the birds, and watching the sunlight fall through the leaves, you’ve already done one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental health. Even Japanese doctors recommend bathing in the forest to recover from the stress of city life.
Leave your cell phone at the hotel – this should be your opportunity for a digital detox – and take a walk through the forest. You don’t have to hike, run, or climb mountains. You can even sit if you want. Take a moment to notice your surroundings and listen to the sounds that surround you: Birds chirping, leaves rustling and streams babbling. Breathe in the fresh, fragrant air and take in the texture of the ground and the shapes of the leaves in the sky. Feel the soft, green moss covering the shady stones or the rough bark of the trees. Allow the silence around you to affect your mood and make you forget the constant movement of the city. This is a visual and auditory experience.
In Japan, forest bathing has become an important part of health care. According to Japanese research, forest bathing improves sleep quality, mood, concentration, and stress levels.
2. Fika (Taking Coffee Breaks)
Fika (pronounced fee-ka) is an important part of every Swede’s daily life. Fika is more than a coffee break with delicious sweets; it is the art of taking a moment to connect with old and new acquaintances, relax and enjoy the finer things in life.
Swedes, often described as aloof, quiet, and unsociable, love fika. They get together with friends, meet new people, explore potential partners and socialise with business people.
So how do you fika? Check your schedule to see if you have time for a break a few hours after work starts or a few hours before work ends. Schedule 30-40 minutes in your calendar. (Invite your loved ones, friends or colleagues to join you!)
Pour yourself a cup of coffee (or tea or lemonade) and have a selection of cookies or snacks ready when it’s time for fika. Refuse to pick up your phone; instead, use the time to disconnect from screens and be free of responsibilities.
3. Dolce Far Niente (Art of Doing Nothing)
“Dolce far niente” means pleasant relaxation in carefree idleness in Italian.
Most people believe that the leisurely enjoyment of sweet idleness is unattainable because of a romantic ideal of long Italian summers and carefree days. In fact, this seems to be an old idea that no longer applies to modern life in Italy’s cities. However, “dolce far niente” is a philosophy deeply rooted in the Italian psyche and not reserved for the time-rich.
So, what is it like to be in a state of dolce far niente? It’s like sitting in a bar in an Italian village, drinking coffee and watching passers-by. Time slows down, and for a split second you admire life in its simplicity, and all you want to do is smile.
This is undoubtedly a good time to rearrange your energy. It’s also an opportunity to relax and gain some distance in order to see life more clearly in its entirety.
I hope you find these cultural practices amusing and interesting. As I said earlier, meditation can help you if you make it your guided life practice. Meditation is a practice that can help individuals slow down and develop a greater sense of calm and relaxation. Through techniques such as deep breathing, focused attention, and mindfulness, meditation can help reduce stress and promote a more mindful, present-focused way of living. Most importantly, I help people see meditation as a path that brings them closer to their own realization so they can live a life of higher potential.
If you are looking for someone to guide you on your journey, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on social media @iammichaelteh.
Part of this article is credited to www.japan.travel/en/guide/forest-bathing/
Michael Teh, 11th February 2023.
Michael Teh is a meditation coach devoted to a personal mission of awakening more people to higher consciousness. He teaches self-realization through meditation, qigong, yoga and philosophy.
Michael Teh Signature Workshop: The Essence of Life Series explores meditation as a powerful tool to realize our true potential. Michael has designed multiple workshops in this series to support his participants’ self-realization journey. Workshop Series 1 is currently running every few months on-ground in Kuala Lumpur, titled “Knowledge of The Self and Fundamentals of Meditation”.
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