Leave a comment and tell me why! Oh, and Happy Friday, All. You’ve made it.

Slow Motion, America

February 25, 2010

Seventy-one percent of all Americans haven’t heard of the Move Over Law, which requires you either move over to the neighboring lane or slow down to below 20 mph below the speed limit while passing an emergency roadside vehicle with flashing lights.

Why this new law, effective in forty-seven states as of January 1, 2010?

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, 154 police officers have been struck and killed by motor vehicles while roadside since 1999. Our need for safety supersedes our need for speed.

So the next time you see those flashing lights, move it over and slow it down. You could save a life. What better way to do that than in slow style?

A hearty thanks to PM4Girls’ Elizabeth Harrin for a rocking review of The Power of Slow.

[I]t is a useful book about the principles of working within the boundaries of time…[If you want to] really get to grips with what time means for you, in the workplace and at home, then read The Power of Slow.

Dedicated to the discipline of project management, Elizabeth is a stellar thought leader. I appreciate her work a great deal. Oh, and did I mention she’s giving away a copy of The Power of Slow on Friday? So be sure to visit her blog then.

Our lives can be viewed as one big project. Or in PM-speak, a series of projects that make up a program. What do we want to accomplish? How can we reach our milestones?

Slow thought of the day:

Slow down to take a look at the Big Picture. Consider it the very canvas you were born with. Now pick up that brush and paint. This is your life. You get to choose how colorful it is.

A thousand thanks to the Brazen Careerist Penelope Trunk for her blog love yesterday. And welcome to all you new visitors who might have found your way here through her. I’ve heard from a few of you already (thanks @btwendel, @bloomerbride and Tracey Linkous in particular).

Mindfulness rules.

So what is the power of slow? It really is about mindfulness. It is about moving beyond clock combat to embrace time as friend. Time is indeed all we have.

“I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” -The Captain in Wall-e

Kudos to Samantha Jones for this quote, which I totally lifted off her Facebook page and plopped here.

As Survivor enters its 20th season, I have to ponder the human desire to push the envelope, if you will. We are designed, on some level, to test our limits. Ask any three year-old. He’ll tell you. It’s funny watching Mommy get all purple in the face as I teeter on the edge of the sidewalk into oncoming traffic. Nice one.

If you are reading this, you are most likely in the privileged position of deciding now whether to live or just survive. We have enough food, clothing and shelter to make more than a difference in the world. We have access to the very technology that can change it for the better.

So what does living, and I’m saying rock-the-house-like-there’s-no-tomorrow kind of living, mean to you? Does it mean staying safe within the walls of your comfort zone, or does it mean doing that one thing each day that scares the crap out of you, then leaves you breathless as you realize it wasn’t all that bad?

You are more powerful than you can imagine. What will you do with your power today?

Making the change

February 22, 2010

In this TED Talk, Seth Godin shares his insights about how to create a movement. It is no longer about advertising and selling someone something they don’t already have. It is about connecting people who are interested and leading them down the path of transformation.

So if you are committed to mindful living or know you need to make a change in your life, you can start today by telling others about this blog, about my book,  The Power of Slow, and about how they can live a more powerful life by embracing, not combatting, the clock.

Looking forward to hearing about how it goes for you!

Nature’s Narrative

February 22, 2010

For the third time this winter, we’ve seen the sun.

I exaggerate.

For the second.

It has been a Star Wars-like season ~ dark battling light. It appeared for a time that the darkness had won. But in the last few days, Nature has spoken in more ways than one.

It started with a long walk outdoors I took yesterday. Face sunward, I gleefully donned my winter boots for a communion with the light. The concerto of spring-minded birds taunted my ears. I stomped through the crisp snow to the forest’s edge. Dipping into the shaded woods, I followed deer tracks for a while, then a set of badger paws that seemed to be following the deer themselves. The baby deer tracks made my heart leap for joy.

“You made it. Your mama, too.” Winter’s final cry has come in the form of curtains of snow colliding with the Earth as the sun’s proximity leaves the houses dripping.

Nature has spoken. And I like what I hear.

Slow Holiday

February 15, 2010

According to an American Time Use Survey graph, Americans spent 17 minutes a day relaxing and thinking. Today is President’s Day in the United States ~ now’s your chance! Forget the great sales at the local car dealership. Never mind the alluring slashed prices at the mall. Today is your day to  sit and merely think.

For many in Germany, today is a day to celebrate and turn off the thinking cap altogether. We are in full-blown Carneval season during which time it is normal to see merchants dressed as clowns or barmaids ~ today is Rosenmontag. The fun ends on Ash Wednesday, but for now, people in Cologne are joining the throngs of bystanders, nipping on flasks while waving to the parade marchers.

For me it is a day off with the kids at home for school break. I slept in, read some more of Twilight, and pondered how marvelous slow holidays feel. The kids aren’t really into Carneval either ~ they’d rather go sledding, read or play with their friends. We might watch some of the Olympics later on today when Vancouver wakes up; I might read some more. If we were in the US, we would certainly tip the statistics in favor of more relaxing and thinking.

Let’s bump those relaxing minutes up to twenty a day, people. Come on. What do you think? 🙂

Yesterday I had to navigate very icy roads to bring my son and his best friend to a Carnival party. It was stressful as people around me seemed to be driving at a normal speed while I was turtling along, sweating bullets.

Robert Butera offers great insights into why traffic jams are neutral and what we can do about our reactions to stressful events. It all begins with how we frame things.

Read on and enjoy!

Yoga Psychology on Stress Management

By Robert Butera, PhD

How do you face your daily challenges? How often do you feel subtle or extreme stress? Are you constantly reacting to your surroundings without awareness, or are you paying attention and discerning your choices?

Let’s take the universal example of traffic. What do you experience when you are stuck in a serious traffic jam? Often the answer to this question is some kind of negative emotion such as anger, frustration, or pressure. But what if you thought of the traffic jam as a small blessing that allowed you some unexpected time to reflect, relax, or enjoy some deep breathing? It is interesting to note that 20 people stuck in the same traffic jam will have 20 different reactions to the situation. This phenomenon offers a simple yet profound lesson – the traffic jam is simply a traffic jam. It is how we react to the traffic jam that creates and sustains unnecessary levels of stress in our daily lives.

This concept that everything is neutral is one of the primary underpinnings of traditional Yoga Psychology. It is a unique perspective, because when we contemplate this idea, we must ask ourselves: If everything is neutral, then why does stress exist? Yoga teachings tell us that anything that clouds our understanding of reality causes a corresponding amount of struggle in life. To understand how to have positive reactions to life requires us to understand the deeper reasons, values, beliefs, and life events that have shaped our approach to living and relating.

The traffic jam is really just a metaphor for any challenging situation we face throughout the course of the day. When we are emotional, it is hard to take a step back and see things as they truly are. Learned emotional responses trigger unaware reactions.  When we become aware of our triggers, take a deep breath, and review the situation, the possibility of emotional transformation arises. In those few moments, a situation that might normally bring stress into the mind/body can instead bring about a sense of equanimity.

Six Ways to Apply Yoga Psychology to Daily Life

Every time you recognize and understand a personal stress, there is an opportunity for positive change and personal growth to occur. Use stressors you identify as a way of learning more about yourself. Whatever you learn will be interesting!

This six-step process can be used any time, but for many, the end of the day (before falling asleep) is best. Even the busiest person has 5–10 minutes before bedtime to reflect on the events of the day.

  1. Think of one minor stress from the day – something as simple as traffic is better than a profound catastrophe.
  2. Think of the emotion you felt during that situation. Refrain from stating the cause of the emotion. Phrase the statement, “I felt (emotion) while I sat in the traffic.”
  3. Consider how the situation could be neutral. The traffic is just the traffic. It did not force you to have any specific emotion. You had the emotional reaction to the traffic. Some people like traffic, such as salaried workers who get a break. Notice how your perspective toward a neutral situation affects your emotional response.
  4. Understand your underlying belief pattern that creates your reaction to the situation. For example, “Traffic is annoying because I do not have enough time to spend with my children after working all day.” The issue to be understood is not the traffic but the fact that you feel as though you don’t have enough time.
  5. Re-evaluate how you can tailor your belief pattern in a fashion that allows you to have your deep values without evoking stress reactions. “I accept that working will alter my life with kids. However, this is my life and I will accept that children are raised by a village – and I trust my village.”
  6. Let your stressful situations be permitted. Let self-understanding be permitted. As you understand your situations, see yourself as a wise person and integrate the idea that all things are neutral, and you can reduce stress to a minimum.

As you work through these six steps and apply these lessons, remember that the easier part of the process is recognizing that all things are neutral and that you have the power to react without stress. The harder part of the process is accepting the pain that you find when you examine the “whys” of your reactions. Stay present with what you uncover, and use it as a learning tool to positively transform your experience of daily life.

* * * * *

Robert Butera PhD is author of The Pure Heart of Yoga: Ten Essential Steps to Personal Transformation (Llewellyn, $21.95), publisher of Yoga Living magazine, and director of The YogaLife Institute in Devon, Pennsylvania, where he trains yoga instructors as well as students. Visit www.pureheartofyoga.com for more information.

Hug Your Inner Buddha

February 11, 2010

One of the greatest sages of slow is Buddha.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
— Buddha

Many thanks to the folks at BeliefNet for providing the inner sanctum for my thoughts on slow today. If you are looking for some free inspiration (even on the weekends!), consider subscribing. They rule!

Yesterday’s slide show on living in the present moment reminds me of something a crew member said on the TV set I was working on last week.

With one foot in the past and one foot in the future, guess where your present rests?

Square in the seat of your pants. Hmmm…Food for thought on this lovely Thursday!