The Power of Mindfulness and Slowing Down

I’m on vacation with my kids and friends on the central coast of California. I have rarely looked at my phone, checked my email or worried about chores or work to do. In fact, we have chosen to have almost no particular schedule at all and that freedom and flexibility has felt amazing. When we want to eat, we eat. Sit, we sit. Laugh and play, we laugh and play. When we are tired, we rest. Some of the time I am just soaking up this amazing panorama, looking out over beautiful rolling hills and country, feeling the sun on my face, the ground underneath my feet and the cool breeze in my hair. Last night we went to a drive-in movie with the kids in San Luis Obispo. I love how they call it SLO for short…slow.  Everything about that name reminded me of what this is all about – a much needed slowdown. It is about enjoying the simple pleasures that are all around us – enjoying a hike to see the amazing ocean from the cliffs, watching deer eat the sweet green grass, sipping a hot cup of coffee and wrapping up in a cozy blanket on the porch swing. We had nothing else to do but watch the movie, soak in the evening and to top it all off, we got to see the Space X rocket launch off into the sky. It reminded me of how much I have to be grateful for, how much I already have, how much there is in the world. An abundance. All just here…waiting for me, for you, for us.  To see it, to taste it, to hear it, to smell it, to feel and touch it. To be taken in. And all we have to do is slow down enough and long enough to notice it and soak it up. I think the practice of slowing down is made up of many elements.  At the core it includes gratitude, mindfulness and relaxation. It can be incorporated into our individual beings and daily practices, into our families, used with our children, our work and all of our relationships. Slowing down and taking time to make room space to just be present can really change our perspectives and lift our spirits. It can make those around us feel heard and seen.  When we are not running so fast or keeping up with the busy pace of this world,  we are able to reflect on where we are, where we’ve been and where we are going.  And the most important part?  Being present and focused on the now. Much love and peace to you.  I hope you take the time to slow down a little bit and take it in. Find your happy place!

Tips for Slowing Down

  • Use your five senses – take a few moments and observe and notice everything around you.  This is the practice of mindfulness.  What do you see (colors, textures, nature, animals, cars, people, art, etc.)?  What do you hear?  What do you smell?  What do you taste?  What do you feel (underneath you, in your body, next to you, on the ground, the air)?  Taking the time to do this requires your brain and body to be focused on the here and now and for that time being you are not able to be consumed about worries, distractions or other thoughts.  This is about observing and noticing, not judging.
  • Practice gratitude.  Come up with 3-5 things you are grateful for at this moment and time and relish in that gratitude.  Say thank you to God, the Earth, Mother Nature, the Universe for those things.
  • Do something with your hands and notice everything about it.  It could be gardening and working with soil and plants, cooking up a new recipe and tasting and smelling things along the way, knitting a blanket, drawing, coloring, crafting, fishing, doing a craft or so much more.
  • Set healthy boundaries around technology and social events.  Technology and socializing are amazing.  I think they make life so much better in so many ways. On the other hand, it is important to take time away from our screens and other people to just check in with ourselves, hear our own thoughts and listen to our feelings.  Without thinking about the next thing to do, comparing to others, getting wrapped up in so much outside of ourselves.  We need the time and space to do that where we are not interrupted and distracted.  The more fully engaged we are with ourselves, the more fully engaged and present we can be for others.
  • Visualize your safe, happy place.  Come up with a vision and clear picture of a place that brings you feelings of safety, peace and contentment.  It could be your favorite place in nature, somewhere you’ve vacationed, seen photos of or purely in your imagination,  Practice deep breathing and then visualize being in that place and all the things your senses are experiencing there.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of your breath and focusing on that for several moments.  It can lower your stress level and ground you.
If you want help slowing down and making space for your thoughts, feelings and self and would like a safe, non-judgmental atmosphere to work through those things at your own pace, I would love to help!  To find our more about ways I can help support you on your journey, reach out to me and schedule an appointment today.   Written by: Athen Fisher, MAS, LMFT, ICEEFT Certified EFT Therapist