The Kindness of Slowing Down

woman sitting on white couch holding white mug smiling
by Amaya Pryce

“Since you cannot miss out on experiences that you are meant to have, every breath offers you the chance to put your faith into the hands of the Universe to remember how blessed, supported, and divinely guided you already are.” ~ Matt Kahn

My relentless focus on the upside to pandemic life hit a speed bump recently when I had to cancel my annual housesitting job in Hawaii. I just kept hoping it would work out (actually, I was longing for it with all my heart), but it was not meant to be. Instead, I’m spending a lovely, quiet week off work at home, watching late summer turn into early fall and reading a book by Matt Kahn called Whatever Arises, Love That.  
He reminds me of how important the quality of relaxation is to a quiet mind and an open heart: “Relaxation is always the preferred rate of speed for any level of spiritual exploration. Any time you rush through your journey, direct experiences of transcendence are replaced with shallow degrees of understanding.” Ironically, although relaxation was what I was longing for in Hawaii, my desire to control essentially uncontrollable circumstances was the opposite of relaxing!
Usually, slowing down is something that has to be forced on us. Sometimes it’s an illness or injury that does it, sometimes age, responsibilities, or lack of resources. Sometimes a pandemic.  What marks true relaxation — and spiritual maturity — is how we react to this inability to move forward at speed.  I like the concept that we can’t miss out on experiences we are meant to have: if they don’t happen now, they are either not meant to happen, or not in this timing. Knowing that, we can relax into the kindness of slowing down.

Surprisingly, relaxation is a quality we can also bring into our most active “doings.” I firmly believe that what you do doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you do it (the quality of energy you bring to it). Matt Kahn writes: “While success in many areas of life may be contingent upon getting things done, the rewards of spiritual evolution are discovered when the way you approach each task is equally as important as the goal at hand.”
When I explore the energy of relaxation, it feels very open, fluid, and expansive — the opposite of the tight, constricted feeling I have when my mind is trying to arrange life the way it thinks it should go. I can look for and cultivate this energy whether I’m on the beach in Hawaii, sitting on my couch at home, or in the midst of a busy day at work. It’s about letting go of control (it’s just an illusion anyway) and truly believing that the experiences I’m meant to have will find me, at the perfect time. No effort required.

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