Mindful with Irene (40)

Can we take things slower?

One of the last lessons I took in my mindfulness trainer course was about stress. It really opened my eyes. For isn’t it strange that we, in the West, are so focused on ‘doing’ all the time? I mean, by constantly shifting from one activity to another, while also experiencing the sense that everything is urgent, we are no longer able to keep our stress levels at a normal level. And that has a great effect on you, how your body works (for example, the production of cortisol), and thus on how you feel. The terms ‘doing mode’ and ‘being mode’ sound a little silly, I think, but that’s the problem. When are we busy simply ‘being’ as opposed to ‘doing’? There are so many things that constantly demand our attention. Doing nothing, loafing around, daydreaming, staring into space, getting bored: I barely have any time for any of that. Sometimes I catch myself thinking that I am constantly in a state of ‘survival mode’, and I see a glimmer of light in the distance: the holiday. Often, our automatic response to stress is to go into fight or flight mode even harder. But there is another solution: the mindfulness solution in which you simply stop and take notice. Notice that all you do is ‘run’. Notice that you are actually tired. Notice that something will cost you more energy than you thought. That was such an “Aha” moment for me. Why do I do that – that ‘ever running’ thing? Slow is my new goal, if only because I find it such a nice word. And I’m not going to wait until my holidays before I embark on this new ‘slow’; I’m going to start right now. ‘There’s always tomorrow’ is one of the captions we sometimes feature on the back cover of Flow. I totally agree.

Irene, together with Astrid, is the founder and creative director of Flow Magazine. She lives with her children (10 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in her daily life.


“Today is slow”