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Slowing down time

Thomas Sterner, in The Practicing Mind (which I've just read at the recommendation of [personal profile] verilyvexed), tells an almost magical story of slowing down time. Two opposing forces had converged in his life: his philosophical decision to live more mindfully, and a period of impossible scheduling demands in his business.

He disregards the screaming, panicky voices in his head that urge him to hurry; he takes off his watch, and he tells himself quietly that if he can't make his next scheduled appointment, he can call the client. He reminds himself that his commitment to slowing down--to mindfulness--is important to his health and his family. He disciplines himself to make every movement deliberate and careful, and as slow as possible.

In the end, he gets all his work done in forty percent less time than normal. He says that maybe time actually slows down.

So I decided to try it. I was running a little late this morning and really didn't want to walk into our 9:00 staff meeting at 9:05. I did what Sterner did: I told myself not to panic. I laid out my tools (in this case, makeup brushes and stuff), considered each one, used it, put it away...I made my bed neatly...I did up my clothes, paying attention to each button and zipper...I'd misplaced my phone and had to patiently change a setting on my laptop so I could Google Voice myself and locate-ring it.

I ignored the clock. Once I left the house, I rode without haste, noticing the morning and my leg muscles and the nice whirring sound my bike tires make on the street. I stopped patiently at every red light. I attended to making graceful, smooth turns and braking safely on the downhill. I was aware of all the traffic, and none of it bothered me.

I got to my office seven minutes early, and was among the first in the meeting room, cool and unhurried.

It was amazing.

While there may indeed be a kind of magic in mindfulness, I noticed two practical things that would explain a lot of the effect: moving slowly from one task gave me time to consider how best to do the next one, so I made fewer mistakes. And calming my mind resulted in fewer wasted motions and better memory--nothing forgotten or mislaid.

Besides the practical outcome of getting to work in good time, I feel so much better than I would have if I'd rushed. The blood-pressure difference was palpable. And it's fun! It feels a bit like cheating, which makes it extremely gratifying and sneaky.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comments. | Comment at Dreamwidth.

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