The Art of Slowing Down Time

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It’s 4:30 in the morning and the birds are already chirping but the streets remain dark. The whole house is silent. I’m a bit cold and hungry. I slip on my blue fuzzy bathrobe and head into the kitchen to steal a piece of carrot cake that my mother lovingly made gluten-free. I then head into the warmth of the living room and begin to write.

It’s in the early mornings that it’s easier for me to find my flow. Still half asleep, I find that my ideas reach the page with less resistance and the quiet allows me to completely submerge myself in the experience. This then has a grounding effect on the rest of my day.

Those early morning hours allow me to process loose thoughts and emotions and as a result, I feel better able to give my full attention to others and to the things I need to do.

It also helps me slow down time. I’m no longer doing things just for others and living my life in the future. Instead, those private morning hours allow me to pull myself back into the present moment where I can enter a state of flow, even if for a little while.

Dear Reader, finding ways to slow down time is my new secret obsession and not just for me but also for those close to me.

My mother in particular at the moment tends to live her life with all her thoughts in the future. It is a coping mechanism that she uses to deal with the uncertainty she is facing. Although I understand it, I also see the way it is taking a toll on her physical and mental health.

The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.

Soren Kierkegaard

Nevertheless, I find that through the simple act of sharing, whether it’s a meal I made, something I’ve read or my time, I’m able to bring her back to the moment we are in. She needs someone to encourage her to be present; to gently remind her to let go of her thoughts for a little while and find joy in the here and now. And, I’ve taken it upon myself to be that person.

I think that if we are to incorporate flow into our lives – both for ourselves and in our relationship with others – it needs to become a practice; a solid part of our daily routine. A lifestyle.

Curious about the subject, I’ve started to incorporate more mindfulness into my life and while reading a book one night on the subject all tucked up in bed I came across the concept of ‘hygge‘, pronounced “hoo-guh,” – a Danish term defined as a quality of cosiness and kinship that contains within it a feeling of contentment and wellbeing. As a way of life, it emphasizes balance, presence, connection, and comfort.

The word itself isn’t new to me. It was something I remember being fashionable a few years ago and is synonymous in my mind with mugs of hot chocolate, candles and fluffy blankets. To be honest, I have always associated it with a type of decor. But, no – the principles of hygge as a mindful lifestyle run much deeper than that.

According to Louise Thomsen Brits, the word hygge stems from the Old Norse word ‘hu’ – meaning thought, mind and courage. And, although it’s an iconic aspect of Danish social ethos, the principles of hygge can be adapted and practised by anyone to promote presence, community and flow.

The emphasis is placed on quality over quantity. On moderation over excess. On spending time outdoors despite the weather. On knowing how to do practical things well. On knowing how to create simple beautiful spaces in which to enclose and shelter yourself and those you love. On knowing how to gather and share. On seeing the beauty in simplicity and knowing how to strike the balance between inner and outer needs.

These are some of the core principles of hygge which provide a framework to encourage flow and presence. What is needed is to take the steps necessary to evoke it in everyday life.

The concept of hygge as a mindful way of life is still very new to me but the more I read about it, the more I find it resonates with what it is I feel I need at this point in my life. It may also be the key to figuring out how to slow down time,

Bratislava / Betwixt-And-Between

When I visit Bratislava Castle, it is always for the views from the hill it is standing on.…

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