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The Power of Slowing Down


Image of the coastline of Big Sur, California
Esalen Institute - Big Sur, California

Wishing you all a Happy New Year. May this year bring joy, creativity and new adventures health and connections!

 

I started the new year in my happy place: Esalen. It is a retreat center in Big Sur with a long history of exploring human potential. It was the perfect place to end and start the new year, to slow down and get centered. The workshop I attended was a silent meditation that was done the Esalen way. While we had two sessions a day of sitting meditation and walking meditation, there was also plenty of time to connect with others participants and to soak in their amazing hot tubs located on a bluff above the ocean.

 

I learned a lot from doing less and wanted to share two insights that felt meaningful.


Image of Banana Slugs
Banana Slugs, vital for processing leaves, animal droppings, moss, and dead plant material, and then recycle them into soil humus

 

Slowing Down (for example when doing a very slow walking meditation) allows you to see much more. Every day, for 30 minutes, I went up and down the same hill, one step at a time, and every day there was something new: a drop of water on the leaf of a succulent, a white angel statue on the ground, a red blanket left on a deck, all things I would have missed if I had walked on that hill in two minutes at my usual pace.

Everyday we also waled at sunset and none of them were similar, yet how often do we start to stop and watch a sunset in our regular lives.


On a personal level, it was a good reminder to find times to slow down more regularly, appreciate what I have in my live and to look at details and simply appreciate the beauty of the world. What I started doing is when I am stressed and have no time is to do the counterintuitive think and actually stop and meditate for 10 minutes. This helps me find calm and also realize that I can find time and don’t have to be so reactive.


From a business perspective, slowing down may mean to spend time noticing the details of your product or services or spend time to observe your customers rather than make assumptions. During a meeting, slowing down may mean rather than jumping into the first topic, you ask everybody how they are (I sometimes ask to use a color to describe how they feel, or may be a number from 1 to10): this can help bring issues that have nothing to do with the meeting itself (someone is stressed because their child is sick or their car is broken) yet it may affect how the participants show up as a person. While it may appear to take time, this will actually help engagement and connection during your meetings. How do you take time to slow down in your personal and professional life? Is there new ideas you want to try this year to help you slow down?


The towering trees of Esalen
The towering trees of Esalen

 

Asking the right questions

At the beginning of the workshop, we had to write our new year’s resolution and then look at them again a week later on our last day. For most of us, our goals and resolutions have shifted from small, specific elements to broader ones. At the end of the week, what I wanted to do is focusing on joy, avoiding relationships that bring toxicity in my life and deepen connections.  What are the important questions you want to ask yourself this year?


 




One take away for me was sharing these learnings in my communities by offering ways to connect with others and discuss how to bring more space in our life. So I will be offering three events starting this month. You can learn more about these workshops HERE.




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