Meditation: Slow Motion

Rather than restrict meditation to sitting in stillness, I tend to get huge benefits when I bring a meditative state to whatever it is that I happen to be doing.  An “everyday” meditation I often get a lot out of is centered on the concept of slow motion.  There are so many different ways to apply this concept to the simple things you do each day, and even just working this into your routine for fifteen to thirty minutes a few times a week can open you up to some remarkable insights.

I first started this one a few months back when I was cleaning the kitchen.  I caught myself just rushing through the task for no particular reason, lost in a train of thought. I reminded myself: do it for the sake of doing it, not for the sake of getting done.

I immediately slowed down each motion, and felt gratitude for the reminder to awaken.  My mind was “still” as I just watched the cloth swirl in circles on the countertop.  I lost myself in the motion, and forgot completely about the fact that this was a chore I didn’t enjoy.  And as I finished that area, my attention was drawn to a spot on the cupboard that I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise if I had been rushing, and I slowly took care of it, which led me to the next spot, and so on throughout the entire kitchen.  Granted, it took me much longer than normal, and it’s not something I can do every time I clean the kitchen, but the feeling I had when I was done was one of pure nirvana (as ridiculous as that sounds).

I brought the slow motion practice to the chore of laundry next, only this time instead of just being the motion, I allowed my mind to consider some various aspects of the task.  For example: as I caught myself hurriedly sorting laundry one day, I decided just to sit down in the midst of it and slow the process way down.  For a while, my mind was still, and I just watched as the laundry was getting moved from the big pile into two smaller piles.  Several items later, I started wondering: “why did I choose this piece and not some other piece?” and then I would watch again to see if some reasoning surfaced.  Sometimes I noticed I chose it because it was a similar type or color as the last item.  Sometimes it was based on proximity or whether or not it needed to be turned right side out.  As I picked one item, I realized I had already mentally picked it as the “next item” while I was in the process of picking the last item.

Why is this important?  I don’t know.  I guess what it brought up for me was a sense of wondering how many other processes I tend to in the day on automatic pilot, and for the first time I was observing those otherwise unobserved patterns.  This could be very useful, because in the process I might find something that I’ve always done out of habit, but maybe by slowing it down and exploring the process, I might discover a better, more efficient way of doing it.

Finally, I also bring the practice of slow motion to my thoughts when I just can’t turn them off or if I can’t get a song out of my head.  I slow it down to one word per breath, and before long I just lose interest in whatever it was that had taken over my thoughts in the first place, and I find myself in a place of stillness and peace.

As you go through your day, try to bring awareness to those activities you do on autopilot, and consider how you might apply some of these concepts to those activities.

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