Working slowly and thoughtfully can accentuate the rewards inherent in our everyday work, and enhance our felt affinity with it in meaningful ways. Our work encapsulates a significant portion of our time each day, making it a partially defining factor in our experience of it. The many gifts that are endowed within our work – learning, empowerment, joy, novelty, capital, discovery, comradeship, and others – can sometimes become buried under the rush of the many objectives that we want to (or need to) meet and attain. We’re exploring here with you some ideas and practices that we think can support kindle these qualities, both at and beyond our workplace.
1. Contemplating what ‘slow work’ would mean and look like for you
The slow movement does not comprise any specific definitions, and this is true for ‘slow work’ too. Slowing down can have many meanings and categories, conceptually as well as practically. It can mean consciously decreasing the volume of work we are doing, or completing work in more time, thereby splitting it over different hours. Other practices can include slowing down emotionally and mentally, to take on only one thing (or a few) at a time and go into them thoroughly. Incorporating these approaches of being with our work can allow us to experience a certain timelessness, offering profundity with it. Analysing which forms – amongst these and many others – are most valuable to your own routines are ones we encourage you to experiment with.
2. Understanding the natural rhythm of our energy
Our uniqueness extends in and to every aspect of our lives, even in the way we channel our energy and the way our environment directs it. Some of us are attuned to working consistently for long hours, while some of us are more responsive to work for immersive yet shorter periods with even (and perhaps lengthy) intervals throughout the day. A few of us find pleasure working under disciplined schedules and others with greater freedom. While for most of us it is a compounding of these different patterns that yields most contentment and growth, it is of salience to observe our natural rhythms to feel comfortable in our diurnal responsibilities. At the same time, our energy may be subject to variation each day, and molding our styles of working in congruence with that knowledge can welcome much calm and slowness into it. For instance, if as someone who typically likes to do more concentrated work in the mornings, you find yourself occasionally wanting to do something else (or rather unable to do much) in the early hours, go into the experience gently to see what you feel called toward doing in that moment – to take a calm walk, stay in bed for longer, write something, spend time with the family, look out the window, or be with yourself. These unanticipated disruptions to our routines can pleasantly refresh us, and direct us anew into our work.
3. Making rest a committed practice
Something that can escape our consciousness amidst the pull of work is the critical contribution of rest in polishing our capacity and connection with ourselves, and consequently with our work itself. Bringing movement to a pause, rest carries seeds of inspiration, breakthroughs, freshness and clarity that nurture and balance our being. Rest too can take many shapes – playing a game, watching television, sitting in silence, speaking with a loved one, drawing or painting, reading, meditating and certainly, sleeping. Principally, with the brisk pace of our lives, rest is a part of our lives we must commit to, one that can serve us in kind and beautiful ways when we uphold it.
4. Slowing our mind
Our mind is an innately busy and inquisitive space, and tempering its pace or involvements can relieve our processes at work. Planning our work or making maps by the week and/ or month can create mental and psychological space. Interacting with phenomena short of our linguistic means too instinctively slows the momentum of our thoughts and gives our mind the room to moderate or quieten itself. Small grounding practices at work, such as sitting empty during a break, meditating on a blank page, watching an artist make a painting, counting backwards from 50 to 0, watching the leaves dance or simply being with ourselves are customs that can equipoise our minds. Concurrently, understanding ourselves and moving from a space of authenticity and presence is a further key that can allow us – and our minds – to feel safe and composed working through the day.
5. Being where our values can be honored
We all have some personal values that form the premise and foundation of our lifestyle and health – even with our work. From integrity, order, and simplicity, to growth, understanding, and excitement, we come with our individual needs that we need to honor and develop. Observing our feelings and thoughts at work, and identifying what is essential for us to change or receive can aid our mind into being at leisure. If this looks like moving jobs or cultivating specific practices – as leaving work at a particular time, taking mindful breaks, working with tables or maps to bring in greater order and understanding of our unique style of working, beginning the work day with the most interesting (or effortless) assignments – at our present position to work with repose, it may be instructive for us to chart out and execute how we want and need our conditions at work to be.
As most of us are accustomed to a fast(er) pace of living and doing, slowing down can take time and entail some trial and error. But, in our experience, once we start learning and adopting slow practices at work, we do begin to feel the many ways in which they bring us balance and health. We hope that the invitation of these slow and small rituals can seep into other aspects of your day, extending further comfort and ease to them as well.