Reclaiming Leisure Time

Reclaiming Leisure Time

A Call to Relax and Connect with Ourselves

A characteristic feature of our modern societies is the constant state of urgency and restlessness that permeates everything we do. Because of the fast-paced and result-oriented nature of most occupations, any attempt to savor the process itself becomes nearly impossible, while work often gradually comes to be experienced as mechanical and distasteful. Consequently, when we are not working (and are ‘free’), we are plagued with a compulsive internal mandate to ‘enjoy’ ourselves, lest we miss out on happiness entirely. While this may seem positive enough, it is complicated by the cultural frameworks that dictate our methods of enjoyment and shape our patterns of consumption by stimulating us with unfiltered content, frequently laced with agenda.

The entertainment industry also routinely manufactures desires – for products, services, and templates for whole lifestyles that are presented to us as necessities for a life well lived – which owing to their frequency and excess are internalized and accepted as essential. So while we work, we fret and obsess over what we can generate, do and deliver, and as we ‘rest’ we seem to challenge ourselves to see how much we can get, what can happen to us, and what we can consume. We are never really able to relax and merely nurse the illusion that we do.

In the rare moments when we are privy to this clarity, we find ourselves so steeped in these narratives of work, production, enjoyment, and consumption that any endeavour at a radical departure is only a tangential pull back into this intentionally constructed, circular and self-perpetuating system. It is so enticing to surrender to it as the desires it convinces us of tug on our very real and human needs for connection, growth, novelty, and expansion. But it habitually promises us their fulfillment while only widening our feelings of lack and longing. The desire for more has become the backbone of our modern consumerist societies, where we, the subjects of this ideology, are systematically trained to constantly desire. Further, these wants are rather insatiable, (like fast food that manipulates precise quantities of certain flavors to keep us consuming yet never feeling fulfilled). Unbeknownst to ourselves, we start demanding a perpetuation of our desires, and eventually, we not only have an excess of things but also an excess of mental clutter. The leisure time that could have nourished us with deep relaxation, time after time leaves us depleted, empty, uncomfortably chaotic, and alienated from ourselves.

A holistic and more considerate society would reflexively imbue us with meaning, peace, and contentment. In the meanwhile, it may be healing for us to reclaim our leisure time and ground ourselves in the present. Chasing away our restlessness and anxiety (that stems from not knowing ourselves and being out of alignment with our innermost needs) with distractions, rather than being with it to understand it, means we will never really know the depths of our personality but only its contours. Much of the stimuli and the emotions it generates in us is simply the residue of what we allow ourselves to absorb unconsciously through the day but is of no real personal value. As these emotions are not arrived at through contemplation, the stake that they have in our lives is too large for what they contribute in return. (Those of us who have ever found ourselves staring exasperatedly at a cupboard full of fast-fashion garments, feeling like we have nothing to wear and wondering how we got here, would be familiar with this quandary). Rather than personalizing and identifying with this passively consumed stimulus, we could take out time for activities that truly help us unwind, make us happy, and alight with joy.

This paves the way for self-awareness and insight into our values, sense of meaning, the kind of work we resonate with (so we feel ‘free’ most of the time), and the things we need in order to feel truly rested and relaxed to reconnect with ourselves and the world. At the same time, we don’t have to continually engage in self-work and enjoy ourselves minimally. Instead, cultivating these conscious practices shows us how to enjoy ourselves (mind)fully. By meeting ourselves anew through introspection and gentle inquiry, we can know sincerely the life we want to live and let it guide what we allow into, and spend, our energy (time, money, emotions) on. In a world where the demand and desire to perform is woven into the very tapestry of our lives, living authentically must become one of our quietest yet boldest acts of self-love.




Connecting Deeply with our Practice(s) of Work

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.