The Importance of Slowing Down

The very first time I visited New York City was when I was in the third grade. I’ll never forget how my eyes lit up, glued to the yellow taxi cab window for the entire length of the drive from Newark to Manhattan. I was completely mesmerized, trying to take everything in all at once. I wish I could say I’ve felt that same feeling every time I’ve visited since, but I just can’t. As a native of little old Oklahoma City, the big city was completely new and enticing, but as I grew older, moving from big city to big city, the magic began to disappear a little bit at a time and before I knew it I was one of those native city girls; wearing all black, drinking three coffee’s a day, and generally rushing through my life without stopping, or even slowing down, for anyone or anything.

So I want to tell you guys about a time where I was forced to slow down, and the magic of life appeared to me again. Sedona, Arizona is known to be a global energy center. In other words, it is a place very distinctive from New York City. On a little vacation to Phoenix, AZ, my friend and I decided to take a short day trip up to the supposedly magical Sedona. We drove through canyons, to open desert, and eventually ended up in this little town situated in the midst of the red rocks. Upon reaching Sedona, we slowly began to realize we weren’t going to find a place to get our quick coffee fix anywhere on state route 89. Between yoga studios on every corner and crystal shops on every block, we stumbled upon the Chocolatree Organic Oasis, a vegan restaurant that probably could have been mistaken for a new age hippie’s humble abode.

All I can tell you is that both of our initial frustrations with the fact that the wind kept blowing little tiny flowers into our chai tea latte’s slowly, but surely turned into appreciation of the moment we were in. Those pesky little blooms looked so beautiful flying around in the wind. And while we waited nearly an hour for our food, we spent half of the time laying in hammocks, listening to wind chimes, and the other half deep in good conversation. I left that restaurant nearly two hours after we first arrived. Normally, I would feel like my precious time had been wasted, but instead I felt as if I truly understood the meaning of precious time. Thousand Oaks, California may not always seem like the busiest city of all time. Certainly, compared to New York City, Thousand Oaks is its own kind of Sedona. However, California Lutheran University is a mecca of coffee-crazed, booked down to the minute, sleep-deprived college students. It is really easy to get stuck in the “go to class, go to work, do homework and go to bed” routine. And it may seem like a perfectly good routine too. What could be wrong with making money and doing schoolwork?

Well, none of these things are on their own bad things, however doing nothing else than school leads to the burnt out weekend routine of sleeping in until noon, watching Netflix all day and then partying all night.

And while none of these things on their own are detrimental to your well-being, at some point you look at the clock and realize your time has all been spent yet again.

Now, I’m not saying that it is wrong to study hard, or that watching Netflix is a waste of time. Surely, sleeping in is needed sometimes. And all of these things can be viewed as slowing down a routine, but if you start back up with the same old exhausting grind during the week, then what’s the point? If you look back at your weekend, and have a nagging sensation of how your time could otherwise have been spent, it might be time to slow down. But how?

Well, not everyone has time for an impromptu trip to Sedona, Arizona when life becomes a little too fast-paced. However, the sense of well-being and understanding of precious time can be attained by other means.

  1. Go on a hike (without your headphones). Listen to the stillness of the world and appreciate it. I promise you’ll sleep better, and feel more energized to do whatever it is that was nagging at you before.

  2. Wake up thirty minutes earlier than you have your alarm set for and take your time in the morning. Sit down and drink your cup of coffee and read a book, or the news, or just scroll Instagram. Make breakfast, or make time to go buy it. If you start your morning running out of your room with a granola bar and half brushed hair every morning, you need to slow down.

  3. Read for pleasure. Sometimes, school textbooks are not exactly the most intriguing and thought-provoking things in existence. Reading a book that caters to your interests naturally relaxes you and makes you happy. And taking that time for yourself to do something you like to do will really reward you in the long run, especially when you need to do a few things you are not too fond of.

These are only a few suggestions of things that get me to slow down my routine. By all means, figure out what works for you, but make sure it is sustaining, rather than draining. That is, make sure if forces you to slow down a little bit, and even change your routine.