How often do we hear about the value of “slowing down.”
It’s a really important part of starting to invite a new experience of life. It’s a beautiful thing to invite ourselves to slow down our minds, slow down the crazy pace of life, slow down our frantic doing, long enough for something new to emerge: a new thought, a new experience, a shift in our perspective on something that’s felt sticky for us.
Jason and I often talk to clients about mental “gears.”
When we’re in 5th gear (or even 6th or higher!), we’re revving at super high speed and life can look and feel frantic, overwhelming, out of control, even impossible. When we slow down any amount towards 1st gear, we often experience a positive shift in how life looks and feels. Frantic becomes interesting or “full,” insurmountable becomes challenging or even fun, we go from stuck to unstuck and life seems to flow again.
Shifting to a slower gear can be truly life-changing, but what if there’s an even bigger shift available to us, a shift that people rarely talk about, but definitely should?
On recent stroll on a lovely, deserted beach in the San Juan Islands, I had an insight that really brought this idea home for me.
I was spending the week on Lopez Island in the San Juans, having the loveliest quiet, slow vacation with Jason (my husband and coaching partner) and our two teenage boys. We had definitely slowed down into 1st gear! We set aside our devices and we were all moving oh-so-slowly. And it was blissful.
But then it got even better.
On one particularly perfect sunny day, we discovered a completely deserted beach that was just breathtaking. The sound of the waves, the blue of the sky, the deep quiet all felt like a little miracle in that moment.
The sandy, rocky beach was warm and inviting, a beautiful deep grey. It looked like this:
But as we spent more time on the beach, something really cool happened:
I went from 1st gear to park.
I sat down in one spot on the warm sand and rocks and just stopped moving. I stopped looking for rocks to collect. I stopped thinking how beautiful everything was. I stopped talking, stopped everything. And within a few minutes just breathing and being, something amazing happened:
The world suddenly came alive.
The beach went from grey to this:
The rocks burst into a riot of color: blue, green, black, yellow, red, white, teal, coral. They came in every size and color and what was grey one minute suddenly exploded into something so much more vibrant, so much more alive.
Not only did the beach and rocks suddenly come alive, but I felt more alive. The sound of the waves took on a whole new quality, as did the breeze on my face and warm sun on my head.
The world came alive. I came alive.
And that’s when I saw that most important shift of all: from 1st to “park.”
I saw clearly the amazing shift that can happen for us when we don’t just slow down, but stop completely. Stop moving. Stop thinking. Stop doing. Stop trying.
The world looks so different from that place of stillness! And the feeling of being in the world is so profoundly different from that feeling.
So now when I talk to clients about “gears,” I’m sure to include the most magical gear of them all: PARK.
It doesn’t take much. You don’t have to do it often. It doesn’t have to be a practice or a technique or yet another item on your to-do list.
Just be curious about what stillness has to offer you. Whenever it occurs to you, sit down for a moment on a park bench, in your favorite chair, or on a lovely patch of grass. Stand still at the edge of a river or in the middle of the aspen forest. Or maybe just stop and be still at your desk in the middle of a work day. It doesn’t matter where and it doesn’t matter how long.
And when your body comes to stillness, invite your mind to come to stillness as well. Drop the high speed thinking and just hang out in a moment of quiet, no matter how brief.
And then just notice the feeling of “aliveness” that emerges from that moment of stillness.
“True Intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found.” ~Eckhart Tolle