What I’ve Learned From Slowing Down

Longtime Wanderlust employee Mary Beth LaRue has a new series on Wanderlust TV called Slow & Steady. Check out all of their slow flow programs on WLTV here.

Our culture loves the hustle and bustle. Just scrolling through social media is peppered with the sentences "But first coffee …" or "Hustle and bustle and heart". And some days that's true. A bit of a buzz is absolutely necessary – including extra caffeine. But after plunging myself into the ground for a couple of years, getting used to tight shoulders and a tight jaw, and writing a page-long to-do list every Monday, I asked myself a question: Why did I do that exactly?

My best friend Jacki and my partner in Rock Your Bliss and I often talk about the "rush of worthiness". We have been programmed to believe we are not worthy until the clothes are perfectly folded, the to-do list is complete, our workouts have been "crushed", and we have prepared a perfect looking dinner. Just a scroll through Instagram is full of these very pictures. But we're not talking about the cost of that perfection: our sanity, our breath, our inner relationship, our humanity. We are not robots.

So I started an experiment. Every week at 8 p.m., I put my phone on airplane mode and didn't pick it up until I was meditating in the morning. The first night I felt kind of panicked. What if someone tried to reach me and couldn't? Then they couldn't. When I woke up the next morning, I took the time to make my coffee and sit in my yoga room and breathe slowly and deeply. And when I got my cell phone off the plane, there were some hectic texts. But they were only hectic because someone needed something from me and I had set a limit and took some time to start my day on my own terms.

Guess what? That's okay. And not only is it okay, it feels good too.

I've been following it pretty regularly ever since. I spent more time outside in the park with a paperback and my diary. I definitely breathed deeper. And I started every morning on my own terms, rather than a habitual Instagram scroll and frantic text message. I learned the beauty of the pause or the space between the chaos. Pressing the pause is a wonderful tool for finding greater peace and gratitude. It is good for your stress levels and your ability to express kindness. It's one of the few things that struggles against perfection, and it's so easy to do.

How to find that sacred pause

  • Just bring a notebook. Whether I go to a cafe or a park, I like to challenge myself to just bring a notebook. No iPhone, no computer, just pen and paper. It gives me time to think about and come up with new ideas for class or creative projects.
  • Let things be messy. As a definite Virgo, I thrive on order. That being said, I've learned to enjoy a little mess. We decide not to make our bed or leave dishes in the sink on a Saturday. There is a life to live and the world is a very chaotic place. Am I the one who will spend all of my time cleaning and ordering it? It will drive you crazy.
  • Get a library card. I'll admit that I enjoy reading on my iPad, but after spending far too much time with that brightly lit screen, I went to our local library and got some books there. And it's free!
  • Just lie down. Your alarm goes off and you run out of bed or pick up your phone. Just try to lie there for a while. Maybe you are a puppy or a human to cuddle? Maybe you want to get a book for a few minutes? If you start your day slowly, everything will slow down.
  • Take yourself up to date. Whether in the bathtub with a glass of wine or kombucha and a paperback or in a film matinee, I love spending some time alone. Challenge yourself to do something that scares you, such as For example, sitting alone in a restaurant or taking part in a hip-hop dance class. The time alone (and the bravery it took to get there) is extremely rewarding.
  • Connect. On our Rock Your Bliss podcast, we often ask our Rapid Fire questions whether people prefer phone calls or text. The majority say text. We live in a culture where the true human connection will die out. Instead of meeting a friend over the phone, plan a time to be together or to attend a new class. Make eye contact. Write a letter.
  • Walk. Even if your city is particularly prone to motorists, where can you walk? Can you take a break from the speed of a car and enjoy a slower journey? Pick a new area to walk or run your errands.

Let these ideas serve as inspiration. Try them out or develop your own. Either way, slow down and notice the details with your sacred pause.

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Mary Beth LaRue is a yoga and meditation teacher, writer, and creator of Embodied by MB. During her journey as a yoga teacher for over twelve years, she has traveled the world teaching yoga with Wanderlust Festivals, which have developed bespoke yoga programs for rehabilitation centers, homeless shelters and the Los Angeles Down Syndrome Association, and wrote about her journey to motherhood by adoption for HBO, Yoga Journal, and Good Morning America. She lives in Evergreen, Colorado with her husband, son Angel, English bulldog Rosy, and six crazy chickens. She loves road trips, library books, writing, a strong cup of coffee, being in nature and all things and people with a soul.

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