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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Living in the Slow Lane

If you haven't already seen this post  do pop over and have a look.  It made me think about how many of us life our lives at such a pace we never really enjoy the NOW!  It is something I have spoken about before but I am still trying to achieve.

 I went with a lady from my yoga class to hear a talk by a Buddist monk recently and I realised how impatient I am since he was so calm and seemed in no hurry to begin his lecture and I found myself thinking "Oh get on with it "!!  However when he did begin to speak he suggested that before we listened to the lecture we should all take 5 minutes to just be.  We were told to shut our eyes and just watch our breath in and out not trying to alter it nor to make judgements about it but just concentrating on it and on any sounds which we could hear.  It was a very long 5 minutes but it certainly did put me in a more receptive frame of mind!

One of his suggestions was that we might take just 10 minutes every day to sit calmly not doing anything - just being and although I was full of good intentions - after all how difficult can it be to sit still for 10 minutes?! - it's is often bedtime and I haven't done it!

It's not as though I achieve great things with all my dashing about and always being ahead of myself thinking of the next thing whilst doing the current one either.  I am sure if I took more time to really think about what I am doing NOW and less about what I am going to do LATER I would enjoy life more and quite possibly achieve more into the bargain!!
I don't know if I have shared this little prayer with you before if so my apologies but it says it all really and was given to me years ago by my mother who knew me only too well!

Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.

Give me,
Amidst the confusions of my day,
The calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves
With the soothing music
Of the singing streams
That live in my memory.

Help me to know
The magical power of sleep,
Teach me the art
Of taking minute vacations
Of slowing down
To look at a flower;
To chat with an old friend
Or make a new one;
To pat a stray dog;
To watch a spider build a web;
To smile at a child;
Or to read a few lines from a good book.

Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
That there is more to life
Than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew great and strong
Because it grew slowly and well.

Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life's enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of my greater destiny.

Wilferd A. Peterson
 Pomona - thanks for the suggestion I have read both Peace is Every Step and The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh and found them inspirational.

Thank you all for you kind comments on my previous posts - all much appreciated by both me and Thomas! 


  1. I know that it is a really good idea to slow down and relax but I'm afraid I'm not very good at it.
    Even when I do sit I have to be be doing something else at the same time!! I think you really have to discipline yourself to do it.

  2. I'm just like this, too. I once talked with a cousin of mine on the phone and when I asked what she was doing, she replied: 'nothing'. 'How?' I asked. "I'm lying on the sofa". " Aren't you reading or listening to music at least?" " No"!!!
    Although I know it's not a waste of time to slow down, I don't know how to do it. When I relax, I read, listen to music AND do something with my hands... I 'do nothing but breathe' only when I sleep.
    When I've read this post I thought I'll go lie down and just be as soon as I've left this comment. But what I really want to do is read.
    I guess slowing down has different forms and what's beneficial for one person is not necessarily beneficial for another.

  3. I go to yoga to just be in the moment or the minute, all 60 of them. Other times it's really hard just to be.
    Anne xx

  4. Hi, nice to meet you. It sounds a lovely idea so i wonder why we all fail when trying to just sit still. Think we have too many distractions these days. Loving your blog

  5. I do like that prayer, I shall have to copy it and keep it near me. Not that I rush around a lot but I do find it difficult to quieten the clamour in my mind. Thank you for posting it.

    I hope you manage to find five minutes to just 'be'.

  6. I did manage the two minutes! i sat and watched the rain and used the time for prayer.
    The prayer you posted is lovely, I'm going to make a copy of it.

  7. When I was training as a hypnotherapist, I learned self-hypnosis, which I practice every day, sometimes for goal setting, sometimes for calming, other times just to be grateful.
    Lovely photos, it Stourhead? I've never been but it looks glorious.

  8. Loved the link, what a great way to make us think and to slow down. I'm feeling nice and relaxed at the moment as just back from holiday, but it's amazing how long 2 minutes can seem!

    This prayer is lovely and as relevant today as ever, perhaps even more so. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  9. I too am impatient. I think that's probably built into me, but still, it's a nuisance and I don't think it does me any good. Yourpost reminds me to slow down a bit. Thanks. Beautiful pictures, too.

  10. Many, many years ago I learned Transendental Meditation and although I have not meditated regularly for many, many years either, the ability to do so has never totally left me - a bit like riding a bike. However finding that 10 minutes or so to be 'in the moment' continues to be difficult. Even though I can sit and 'watch the grass grow', like so many of us, my mind is churning through so much stuff. I also listen to a talk by a buddist monk many years ago too. He talked about doing a task 'mindfully' so trying not to think about something else whilst sweeping or tidying. Letting the mind wander whilst doing mundane things helps my sanity, but a bit of mindful action can also be a working meditation. Now don't get the wrong impression - it is once in a blue moon that I practice any of these things! But your post is a reminder that perhaps a few empty mind moments would be good.

  11. we are off to Stourhead Saturday night for the picnic and firework display.. really looking forward to a child free evening and a chat with friends... and perhaps a glass or 2 of wine! ;D

    I understand completely about the slowing down and in this hectic world its not considered important.. to much to do, must get on and feeling guilty if you do stop to smell the roses or take in a view... if I sit quietly with my chickens for 10 minutes my family think Im depressed or loosing it! lol ... when all I am trying to do is sit and "be" ...

    keep trying and it will come ... xx

  12. I think if I could get over to Stourhead I would be able to just sit and "be".......... well for a couple of minutes... maybe....

  13. I think I need to bookmark this post and come back to it often! My boys have been good at making me slow down these hols - they cook with me, SOOOO slowly, and I want to be patient but it's a real challenge not to snatch everything out of their hands and do it myself. Good to let go, though...



  14. I think it is very difficult to have a peaceful moment as there are so many distractions! I sat and watched the moon a few nights back and that was a nice quiet 15 minute break!
    Lucy xxxxxxxx

  15. I'm a positive advocate of doing nothing although I'm often met with blank stares if I admit to such a lazy, non-productive pursuit. I think we need to power down so that our poor stressed out minds and bodies can find a little space to get themselves ready for the next wave of activity. Stourhead is STILL on my list of places to visit.

  16. Jane,
    I'm going to make a copy of that poem and read it again. I was taught a sort of self hypnosis by a practioner I consulted about my tinnitus and it really helps banish things when you can get 'in the zone' The photos look so beautiful and tranquil. Just looking at them is restful in itself. Lesley x

  17. Ah yes I see from the other comments it is Stourhead. Everybody needs a little section in their garden, a tranquil little spot, but out of sight so no-one can see that you are there. But I know that as soon as I sit down the phone will ring or Tony will come and talk.... or I will feel guilty!!
    Of course the danger is that I might nod off !!

  18. I too will take heed of your poem, time passes so quickly and quite often I find despite having a long list of things I want to get done, I achieve nothing. I'll give it a thought today!

  19. A wonderful prayer/poem. I rush around like a headless chicken sometimes and then wonder if the rush was really necessary! I think there is so much emphasis these days on being constantly productive that we feel guilty if we go slow or do nothing. I must stop feeling guilty!x

  20. Hello:
    What an inspirational prayer, don't all mothers have the most perfect advice! And yes, it is we agree, so important to take life one step at a time and to enjoy the here and now rather than be for ever onto the 'next best thing'. Sadly, it does seem to be the way of the world that unless things are done at breakneck speed, insufficient will be accomplished. Whilst we share with you the view that at such a pace one is unlikely to accomplish anything very well or indeed at all.

    We are delighted to have found you, in somewhat mysterious route via Yiota's blog. Your photographs are wonderful and your posts so very eclectic and interesting. We look forward to many happy returns.

  21. Thank you for this inspirational poem Jane. My weekly yoga class is often the only time when I truly relax, I have tried to meditate at home but there are too many distractions.

    I love your photos - you have taken some lovely days out and they can refresh and revigorate the soul as well.

    Sorry to read about Thomas's woes, hope he is on the mend.


  22. Hi - thanks for your comment! It's great to hear what you said, as it's exactly what I suspect myself. I nearly didn't post because I didn't just want commenters to say: 'go on, you deserve it' just because they thought that was what I was wanting them to say! So you've set the tone perfectly - let's see what the other comments are!

  23. Jane, the poem is beautiful. I read it twice and shall print a copy for my mother.

    I truly believe that it is difficult to be something that we are not. My daughter just cannot slow down. She has tried many things, none of them work for her.
    She has read books, tried meditation, listened to calming music etc.
    Perhaps if you did not let it concern you, one day it may arrive at your doorstep.

  24. I've found it helpful to try
    and do a plant portrait each day. I sit in the garden and focus on just one plant or part of the plant, and do a drawing. I've had to discipline myself to focus and not be distracted by all the jobs that need doing around that plant. It's wonderful how much you notice about form and colour in half-an-hour....and where your thoughts can take you in that time.

  25. hello Jane. Just been catching up on your posts and am now feeling calm and ready for the day, thank you x

  26. Dear Jane,

    A beautiful post which reminded me of my mother's wise words. She is still practising yoga at almost eighty years old. She learned that poem by heart (French people LOVE learning poems by heart - it's what they do at school) and would recite snippets of it to me. She is a nervous soul, you see and has learned to find peace every day. Those 10 minutes are hard to find. I tell myself that knitting for 10 minutes is just as beneficial but that is still about keeping busy, right?

    My eldest sister goes on retreats from time to time and has amazing inner peace. Her children have left home though so maybe she has more time?

    ps I've posted about a dog rose just like the one in your header...

  27. What a perfect poem! And I was just thinking about Thich Nhat Hanh and then got to the end of your post - I am glad that you enjoyed them. I try to do the breathing whenever I get stressed, and it does really work.

    Pomona x

  28. A really interesting post which I could do with taking on board. I have already put the wheels in motion to try and lead a calmer life but it is not always easy when outside factors come in to it.
    I used to be a very calm person but oveer time that changed...I want to go back to being that person again.
    I smiled at what you said about waiting for the buddist monk as I too might have thought come on hurry up. I tend to fit in so much in a day and at a 100 miles an hour. All that has finally caught up with me and has made me feel ill. That is what has made me realise I have to change. I crave peace, quiet and complete peace of mind...don't we all...
    I am sure that I would have found that buddist monk very inspiring and interesting. Thank you for sharing that prayer. I will share it with someone who is very close to me and seriously ill.
    Take care
    Isabelle x

  29. What a lovely post! I so agree, and try to meditate regularly amid my speedy life! I found 'Finding Sanctuary' By Christopher Jamison, the Abbot at Worth who was featured in the BBC series Silence, a very helpful guide at laying out your own sanctuary in your mind, and not at all Religiously biased. Worth a look!
    Thanks again for a thought provoking blog.

  30. Lovely to find a prayer on a blog, and beautiful calm photos too.

  31. I like your prayer.

    Such a beautiful scenery.

    Lisa from Acoustic Guitar Software


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