The Concept of Slow Living – It simply means living in alignment with your unique values & beliefs. Things that matter to us, what do we value in our lives, are we in harmony with our aura? The answers to the above will make us realize if we are making enough space for such valuable yet invisibly simplistic things.
The pandemic made many realize this perspective – Navigate life with a purpose. The secret lies in spending more time on things that mean to you and you love doing. Often we get caught up in the grind, trying to seek approvals from others, not knowing how time slips out of our hands just running behind the need to earn more. From corporate organizations to individuals, all seek answers to this question. This path often misleads. It is therefore important to take the path that leads to growth.
As the famous Spiritual Master Sri Ram Dass puts – “Your problem is that you are too busy holding on to your unworthiness”.
The Inception of the Culture of Slow Living
The rapidly-changing global scenario in the 20th century compelled Japan too to adopt the ‘fast, cheap, convenient & efficient’ lifestyle that diversified its economic prosperity. However, it came with its set of hazards such as dehumanization, social ills and environmental damages. That’s when the nation decided to move forward with the concept of ‘Slow Life’ or ‘Slow Living’ to achieve a slow, comfortable & balanced lifestyle and shift from a society of mass production & mass consumption to a society that cherishes possessions & things close to heart.
This phenomenon has its roots in the Slow Food movement, started by Carlo Petrini in the 1980s in Italy. The concept first saw its sprouts in Tokyo, Japan in 2001. Soon it spread to the neighbouring Kakegawa, and by 2003 there was a ‘Coalition of Slow Life Cities’ across Japan. ‘Slow Life Months’ were held by Tajimi City, Yasuduka and Gifu City. The Slow Life Movement’s themes did strike a deep chord all over Japan.
Manifesto for Slow Cities of Japan
SLOW PACE: Value the culture of walking to stay fit and reduce traffic accidents.
SLOW WEAR: Respect and cherish our beautiful traditional costumes, including woven and dyed fabrics such as Japanese kimonos & Japanese night robes (Yukata).
SLOW FOOD: Enjoy Japanese food cultures, such as Japanese dishes and tea ceremony. Use as many safe, local ingredients as possible.
SLOW HOUSE: Respect houses built with wood, bamboo & paper, lasting over 100 to 200 years. Add more natural durability, which ultimately helps to conserve the environment.
SLOW INDUSTRY: Taking care of forests, through agriculture and forestry, conducting sustainable farming with human labour, and ultimately spreading urban farms and green tourism.
SLOW EDUCATION: Paying less attention to academic achievement and creating a society where people can enjoy arts, hobbies and sports throughout one’s lifetime. Where all generations can communicate well with each other without barriers.
SLOW AGING: The aim is to age gracefully and be self-reliant throughout one’s life.
SLOW LIFE: Based on the above philosophies of life, the aim is to live in sync with nature and its seasons, saving our resources and energy.
“Take a look at the present you are constructing; it should look like the future you are dreaming” – Alice Walker
Incorporating Slow Living Into Our Everyday Lives
Do Less : The most important aspect lies in saying ‘No’. Also, streamlining workload, eliminating, automating and delegating helps in balancing mental health.
Aligning ourselves with our thoughts, fears and anxieties. Understanding our needs & wants, keeping the more important ones, and practising the art of letting go the rest. According to Spiritual Guru, Sri Ram Dass, it is essential to follow a strategy that enables you to work on your consciousness. It comprises of the following:
- How to take the stuff of daily life
- Gain control over your thoughts
- Follow your breath rising & falling
- Every time you get a thought, revisit to watch your breath
- All that matters is purely a state of awareness within you
Setting priorities for things that matter the most. Eliminate the toxicity that drains your energy or needs secondary attention. At times, it is ok to just sit idle for a few days and let time pass by or spend a leisurely afternoon reading a book. Follow a passion that you’ve left behind. This way, you’ll build more positivity within and around. Prioritizing will also enable you to keep or eliminate a task.
“So much our life is lived in a fog of automatic habitual behaviour. We spend so much time on the hunt. But nothing ever quite does it for us and we get so wrapped up in the hunt that it kind of makes us miserable. How often does that bring us happiness?”, asks Dan Harris, Author, 10% Happier.
Ryan Nicodemus, Minimalist says, “I had everything in my life. I was very successful. Still, there was this gaping void. And began to fill that void with stuff which most of the people do – Spend More.” Soon, he was spending money faster than he was earning. He had the paychecks. But he wasn’t living at all. Imagine a feeling as restless as Ryan’s.
Your Life is Too Valuable to Waste Chasing Possessions
“Every possession should serve a purpose and it should bring you joy. The idea is to keep it simple and not to own excess stuff. The essence lies in living more deliberately with less.” says Joshua Fields Millburn, a minimalist.
Recharge via Sabbaticals or Vacations
Women fear taking a career break just to recharge themselves. Especially, in a country like India, very few will come in favour of her decision. But it is absolutely fine to take time off if you are feeling the burnout. Your acquaintances may not always support your decision, but it’s important to take the gap to live the life you want to live.