Savoring Slowness

I met with a young woman at work a few weeks ago to discuss what a training career might look like. She scheduled 30 minutes on my calendar, and we talked. I asked her about her background and her history with our company. I told her about my career of choice, and we explored the reasons for her interest in it. Since I might one day be in a position to interview her for a role, I gave her some tips on things I would be looking for in a candidate and recommended websites and information she might explore to learn more. I followed up with an email with the suggestions we’d discussed. She was charming and bright, and I found myself hoping she followed through and explored a career in our field. If the interest was there, she might be happy in it. I’m always happy to talk with young people about their careers. It’s important.

Later that week I ran into her at the gym. She began to walk away after we exchanged greetings, but she turned around and came back. “I wanted to tell you….,” she started a bit nervously. “I wanted to let you know that when we talked the other day, I noticed. You never once looked at your phone or your computer. I wanted you to know that I noticed.” I was taken aback but thanked her and told her our discussion was important to me. And now I’ve become more aware when I have been distracted with other people.

I was trying to meet with one of my employees the other day, and a coworker had a truly urgent issue that needed my attention. As I fumbled with the conversation that was being interrupted with the pinging of my computer, I finally apologized to my team member. I told her this was urgent and asked her to let me respond so I could give my full attention to her. We both felt better when we could talk without that incessant urging from a person outside the room for my attention.

This week I’m experimenting with eating more slowly. I’ve embraced meditation. I’ve long loved walk breaks and running at a slower pace than most people. I like long hikes and meandering mornings where I sip coffee and do whatever the hell I want. I don’t like to be over-scheduled on weekends, and I like driving instead of flying. I crave a simple life. But this eating slowly is a challenge. My mind is all over the place. I know that it’s better for me, and I know that in a few weeks I’ll begin to understand the difference it makes. Getting the results of eating slowly will also slowly come into focus.

This morning’s lesson included a link to this Ted Talk called “In Praise of Slowness”. The experience that led this reporter on a quest to slow down was similar to my experience with this young employee at work. I’ll let you listen to the video to hear the story (and listen to the end for his child’s feedback on the results), but I resonated with his learning to savor his life much like I’m learning to savor my food. I sometimes feel like I’m going against the grain trying to be present and embrace slowness, but I feel better and my life is more meaningful. And, while living more slowly doesn’t slow the clock of time, it does seem to add more meaning to my days.

What constitutes slower living? Slow is the gentle healing of acupuncture as opposed to the swiftness of western medications. Slow is going out for a run with my dog but stopping when she’d like to explore something. It is driving out to a local farm to buy grass-fed beef and talking with the farmer as I purchase my food. It’s making my own kefir, almond milk and homemade bread and unplugging from industrialized food. Slow is meditation, yoga and my own brand of spiritual practice. It’s putting down my phone, or, better yet, leaving it on my desk when I meet with coworkers and team members. I hope I’ll learn shortly how putting down my fork and savoring my food will enhance my life. I wish I could see quicker results, but I guess that would be missing the point, wouldn’t it?

Do you have a desire to slow down? What might that look like? What could you try today? If you’ve already slowed down in an area, what has it brought you?

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