Guide to self-development (Part 11)
Text: Aina Masood
Over the last ten months, I have shared ways of creating a healthy self-image and focusing on ourselves. One of the motives for doing this was to bring focus as a community to our inner world and away from the demands of the external world. I remember mentioning multiple times that it is a long and slow process. I believe it is essential to get these reminders because we often forget this simple yet powerful fact and end up in a vicious spiral of self-doubt and negative thinking.
Mental well-being is defined as a combination of how we feel and how we function. These involve the state of our physical bodies and our minds which are in communication on deeper levels than we can fathom. We rely on the optimal functioning of our bodies and minds to be fully functioning individuals in society. Therefore, you will find different chapters in the self-development guide that focus on how to look after our emotional, mental, and physical health. Some of the topics covered talk about:
Some of the topics covered talk about:
Identifying your core values
How to take care of your body?
Investing in yourself
Building and maintaining habits
Learning to name our emotions
I want to add one more thing to these topics before we wrap it up. That one thing is the importance of slowness and stillness in our lives. The COVID pandemic forced us to slow down and reflect in a world obsessed with speed. I believe it is a beautiful concept I would like to stay with for a long time. Research suggests that we get more pleasure and health from our foods if they are cooked and consumed at a reasonable pace. Slowness and the art of stillness help us notice and appreciate the little things in the world, and it is one of the essential ingredients to living a whole life and getting to know yourself better.
Many great western and eastern philosophers have discussed the importance and dilemma of slowing down. For example, Milan Kundera wrote in 1996,
“When things happen too fast, nobody can be certain about anything, anything at all, not even himself.”
And the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard highlighted the sad reality of the world in this quote, “Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.”
"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it."
How can you practice the art of stillness and slowing down?
Start slowly: humans are plagued with rushing anything and everything they can, so the first thing to remember here is that you can not just bring your life to a halt and feel successful in your quest to slowness. So it would help if you started with small things.
Sit with yourself for 1 minute per day. Do absolutely nothing. Observe what happens in your body, where your mind flows, and what urgency feels like.
Eat your meals slowly. Set aside time to enjoy the flavour, texture, and joy that your food brings into your life. Savour it.
Set aside time every week to practice silence. This could look like removing all sounds from your environment for a mere 5 minutes or sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and taking deep breaths for 15 minutes. You decide how long you want to do it; I am only sharing examples.
Try to talk about Mental Health Walks where you stroll and engage all five of your senses.
Conclusively, remember that the practices mentioned here are only to help you start the process of bringing slowness and stillness into your life. You can continue with these by increasing the time or trying something different. As we move into the winter months, the universe demands us to slow down; maybe, we can listen to it this year and start our practice of experimenting with slowness. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about deepening your practice of slowness.