For many people, one of the key changes to have emerged from the period of lockdown is the sense of slowing down. Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, this calmer, slower way of living is one element which increasing numbers of people would like to carry forward into their lives as we emerge from lockdown. Furthermore, the way in which we interact with one another and how we travel will continue to be affected by the pandemic.
Life is both fast and slow paced. The key is to identify when we need to slow down and seize the opportunity to do so. As a result, we are better placed to lead more balanced, healthier lives. Luckily, there are simple steps we can each take to incorporate some slow movement into our daily routines.
The Slow Movement
The slow movement is a cultural initiative. It began originally as the slow food movement in Italy in 1986, as a protest to MacDonald’s opening its first outlet in Rome. The movement then grew over time to encompass slow travel.
At its core, slow movement promotes a shift in focus from busy, fast-paced lifestyles, towards a calmer, more intuitive and reflective way of life. Ultimately, it aims to emphasise connection – connection between people and culture, connection to food, connection to the environment and connection to families.
Engaging In Slow Movement
Slow travel is not simply about forms of travel, but is instead about mindset and creating a new relationship to your surroundings. The key to slow travel is simply to slow down. Rather than aiming to explore many places in a limited amount of time, the focus lies instead on exploring one small area thoroughly, allowing yourself to become fully immersed in it and experience it as fully as possible. The philosophy underpinning the movement is that this approach of quality over quantity will enable you to form a stronger connection to your surroundings.
One way to engage in slow travel is to use alternative forms of travel. In the case of long-distance travel, use of public transport, especially trains, is recommended over the use of aeroplanes. However, in terms of shorter distances or local travel, cycling and walking are especially good ways to engage with your local area.
Incorporating Slow Movement Into Our Daily Lives
One simple way to build slow travel into our everyday life is to walk. Many more people and families have engaged in a daily walk together as a family than were doing so prior to the pandemic. Take the time to enjoy your walk, to appreciate the landscape and your surroundings as you go and allow yourself to truly connect with it. Notice small details around your local area that you may have missed if you had been rushing to a set destination.
If you are taking a walk with your family, allow yourselves to take your time. Allow your walk to be unhurried and embrace the opportunity to connect with each other as well. Make time to stop and notice or explore different plants or architectures and share these moments with one another.
Slow movement places great emphasis on connection to food and culture. Another simple way to build this into your daily life is to spend more time in your local area. Rather than driving to a shop, walk or cycle instead. Try taking a different route to your destination, so you learn more about the local area.
Similarly, try to shop in your local shops and wherever possible, aim to buy local produce. Not only does this allow you to connect with your local area, but you will also be contributing towards the growth of the local economy, as well as reducing pollution.
Another way to engage in slow movement can be through the practice of walking meditation. Walking meditation focuses on the simple act of walking itself. Rather than walking to a specific location, you instead use the breath to clear your mind and focus only on the sensation of walking and of your body’s movements.
Walking meditation can take place anywhere, even in busy cities. However, walking somewhere in Nature has been found to help improve mood and wellbeing. The key is to allow yourself to ignore distractions, simply devoting your attention to the act of walking.
This week, we invite you to take some time to slow down and walk. Whether alone or with your family, take a short walk through your local area. Perhaps you can explore a new route or even try to walk to an outdoor space (such as a park or woodland) you haven’t been to before, or would usually drive to. Take your time to notice your surroundings as you travel.
If you enjoy meditation or are in need of some time to reconnect with yourself, why not try a walking meditation? Start with a simple 10-minute walk. Focus on the breath and as you walk, begin to slowly widen your awareness. Notice the different sensations in your body, but pay particular attention to your feet and how they feel as you take each step. Keep your pace slow, remaining attentive to your body’s sensations throughout. Remain present and engaged to each individual step and moment.
As always, we welcome your reflections and thoughts. Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Happy walking!