Seeking Slow: Reclaim Moments of Calm in Your Day

Seeking Slow: Reclaim Moments of Calm in Your Day

by Melanie Barnes

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Overview

Are you being consumed by never-ending to-do lists? Are you working harder and enjoying less? Seeking Slow provides simple ways for you to slow down and reconnect with yourself, your family, and your surroundings—while finding joy in doing so.

If daily life feels too busy and hectic, it's time to discover the beauty of slow living. Being fully present and intentional with your time allows you to embrace the wholehearted moments that are right in front of you every day. Take time to consider what your slow moments are, whether that is heading outdoors for a walk with family, learning to meditate, taking up a new craft, reading a book, or simply taking a long deep breath during a busy day. This soothing book includes helpful insights into:

  • Managing your time
  • Learning to nurture yourself
  • Making a slow home
  • Seasonal living
  • Living sustainably
  • Meditation and mindful living
  • Daily slow-living rituals

Feel your heart rate drop as you read this gentle guide to slowing down.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631066306
Publisher: Rock Point
Publication date: 09/24/2019
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 374,935
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Melanie Barnes is the writer and photographer behind the blog Geoffrey and Grace—a home for slow and simple living. With more than fifteen years' experience in movement and well-being, she is a trained yogi, meditation teacher, and massage therapist. She has always been guided by her body and is always looking for ways to be present and truly connected. Becoming a mother inspired her to look at her life and purpose, which is when she discovered slow living.

She shares advice on slow and simple living via her blog, ebooks, and slow-living retreats, and her work has been featured in the magazines  Project Calm, Reclaimed, Country Home & Interiors, and Simple Things . She has collaborated with a number of well-known international brands, including The Linen Works, Smart Energy GB, 20th Century Fox, Jordans, Toast, Vitabiotics, and Denby.

Melanie lives by the sea in Sussex in the UK with her husband, daughter, and, cat, Juniper. She shares their slow moments on her Instagram account (@geoffreyandgrace), which has over 30,000 followers.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Slow Living

AN INTRODUCTION

* * *

What would happen if we lived our lives at a slower pace? If we occasionally paused for thought, simplified our lifestyles, and created space for moments of stillness, perhaps we would also find more joy and happiness. We all know how easy it is to get swept away with a busy day; time can pass in a bit of a blur and we often don't feel like we were there for any of it. In order to be the happiest and healthiest we can be, it is necessary to look at slowing down and reconnecting to ourselves. Living slowly and simply is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of twenty-first-century life.

WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE A SLOW AND SIMPLE LIFE

Simple living is not a new concept — people have been practicing it for centuries — and the term "slow living" as we know it today is becoming increasingly popular. Used to describe a lifestyle that encourages a slower rhythm and values a mindful approach, slow living isn't about doing everything slowly. It is about intentionally doing things and being present for each part of our day. By choosing quality over quantity, we gain more opportunity to savor the simple pleasures and experience those moments wholeheartedly.

An alternative approach to living in the fast lane started with the Slow Food movement in the 1980s. When a famous fast food chain wanted to open a branch near the Spanish Steps in Rome, residents, politicians, and officials opposed the idea. This single event prompted Carlo Petrini to found the Slow Food movement as an alternative to fast food. Its aim: to defend traditions, celebrate the pleasure of food, and highlight the connection between where our food comes from and how it ends up on our plates. Over the last thirty years, the ideas behind the Slow Food movement have crept into mainstream culture and expanded into other areas of our lives. With working weeks seeming longer, schedules more rigorous, and people appearing busier than ever before, slow living is becoming an essential practice for our well-being.

It is not surprising that we are looking for ways to simplify and slow down. Many of us are living beyond our means, in terms of energy, resources, and time — we have come to expect a lot from our bodies and our life-styles. Often, we are juggling things or multitasking in the quest to "have it all" or "do it all." There will always be more tasks to do, more emails to answer, more work to catch up on. Add to this the brilliance of technology and we can now do these things at any time of the day, even when we would have previously been resting or doing nothing. This can leave us with the expectation that we must use our time more efficiently. The pressure that comes hand in hand with feeling busy means we often hurry through our days, which results in us being less productive with our time and missing out on life's wonderful moments.

Most of us instinctively know there is a better way to live our lives than being hustled along an endless track of "to-do lists." Destination living, where we are fixed solely on a specific end point or result, means we are more likely to miss out on enjoying the small and simple experiences along the way. Still, slowing down can seem challenging. So, how do we realistically slow down and navigate the misconceptions about who slow living is suitable for?

REALISTIC SLOW LIVING

Slow living is possible for everyone. The art of slow living is not in how much "free time" you have, but how intentional you are with that time. There are many facets to slow living that can be applied practically to anyone's lifestyle — from slow food and slow fashion to slow travel and slow parenting.

By examining our attitude to time, we can alter how we approach individual tasks and how we schedule our week. By analyzing our purpose and prioritizing, we can understand what is motivating us and fill our days accordingly. Through slowing our homes and simplifying our belongings, we can begin to create space for more rest and play. By looking to nature and the seasons for inspiration, we can see how living seasonally can naturally shape and slow down our rhythms and routines.

Once we start to live slowly, we automatically begin to increase our awareness of our general well-being. We need to remember that time nurturing and tending to ourselves isn't a luxury, but is, in fact, essential, and that we must reconnect and learn to listen to our bodies in order to truly slow down. We don't need a lot of time; just ten minutes daily can go a long way to support our health and happiness.

By mindfully approaching everyday tasks, we can begin to slow down our minds and thoughts. In this book, I will be encouraging you to think deeply about the choices you make across all areas of your life. It is important to invest some time and energy to think about how you spend your days, what you spend your money on, what leisure activities you choose to do, and what things you surround yourself with. All of this filters into effect how slowly we are able to live our lives, and how lightly we are able to tread on this earth.

We often equate happiness with the big moments in life, but there is a lot of joy to be found in the simple things. Let's learn to cherish those small moments, and refocus what it means to be happy — it is not about trying to have it all, but about learning to be content with what we have, and that less can indeed be more.

REFLECTING ON THE PAST

Generations before us managed to live slowly and simply, in part because the way people used to live facilitated a slower and simpler existence, though often it was out of necessity through times of austerity, and living could be hard. My grand-parents grew their own vegetables because of food rations; they mended stuff because they didn't have the money to throw things away and replace them with something new. Simple things, such as a trip to the cinema or gathering around the telly to watch a TV show as it first aired, were hotly anticipated and felt like a treat. Generally, there were a lot fewer distractions, so it was easier to go at a slower pace and find time to spend with family. Shops were often closed on Sundays; therefore, enjoying long family lunches, playing games, spending time in nature, and even being bored were normal pastimes.

There were also fewer choices about how to spend leisure time and less information readily available to everyone. People had to seek out their own entertainment and fun, so they often invested more time in hobbies. Though more time was spent on doing household chores — washing everything by hand, mending clothes, cooking from scratch — that have since been replaced by "easier" time-saving alternatives, we still feel as if there aren't enough hours in the day.

While in one respect it is wonderful to have so much choice and flexibility with what we can do and when, it is important that we are mindful about how we choose to spend our free time, and that we invest our energy in activities that bring us joy and enhance our well-being. Especially where self-esteem and self-worth are concerned, perhaps, in some ways, our ancestors had the right idea. It is probably healthier to spend our time on household chores and hobbies, rather than the preferred pastimes of today, including browsing the internet and binge-watching TV shows.

While it is easy to look with nostalgia at days gone by, it is evident that there are lots of things we can learn about slow living and simplifying from previous generations. When I think about how my grandmother lived day-to-day, it is easy to see why she was good at appreciating the simple things and finding joy in life. My grandmother lived with her mum and seven siblings in a three-bedroom terrace house in Tooting, South London. She shared a bedroom with three sisters, and at her first job (at a department store on Oxford Street), she had to use the toilets in the nearest Tube station.

Without the basic luxuries we have today, people had gratitude for the things we take for granted. People were also more likely to be thoughtful with their choices, even small decisions, such as correspondence. It takes more time and effort to write a letter and post it, so naturally one would have put thought into any communication — it wasn't even easy to make a phone call.

By looking to the past and reflecting on how folks used to live, what lessons can we learn to guide us into the future? Wouldn't it be great if we could combine the wonderful things that make our lives easier in the twenty-first century with age-old traditions and ideas that better support our overall well-being?

The Challenges of Our Modern Age

* * *

With the demands of twenty-first-century life, no wonder people are looking for alternative ways to live. For me, slow and simple living encompasses all the fundamental values that help my family live a more wholehearted life, from being connected to the present moment to appreciating the little things, and taking time to enjoy and celebrate life. Of course, there are many things that can hinder us on our quest to live more slowly, including the glorification of being "busy," consumer culture and materialism, and our digital age and virtual consumption, all things that we need to evaluate in our lives and decide whether we want and/or need a lifestyle change.

THE GLORIFICATION OF "BUSY"

Society seems to think success is directly correlated to how busy we are. When someone asks how one is doing, it is a standard twenty-first-century response to say "busy." We wear it like a badge of honor, taking pride in the fact that being busy implies that we are important.

This glorification of "busy" and the association of being "busy" with being "successful" is a dangerous equivalence, which inevitably has a negative effect on one's mental well-being. We can't be busy every hour of every day, so when do we stop? How will we know when we have reached the limit of our busyness and the peak of our success? If we aren't achieving anything, does that mean we're failing? The logic is unsustainable, and once we link feeling successful with being busy, finding contentment with our life becomes more of a challenge.

It is also amplified by social networks encouraging us to give status updates and let people know what we are "doing" all the time, as if "resting" isn't a valid pastime. People also only tend to share the positive stuff — their achievements and acquisitions. This leaves an area of life experiences that don't fit into that "picture-perfect" portrait of existence. Comparatively, it can leave us feeling like our lives don't quite measure up.

There is a deep fear that if we stopped being busy, for just a moment, we would be confronted by silence, and even more terrifying, we would have to face the fact that perhaps what we are "busy" doing isn't actually that important at all.

We need to remember that success doesn't just have to be defined by the big moments in our lives or by collecting material possessions. There can be great significance in the small, quiet moments and in life's little details. If we stop to think about it, there are other ways to evaluate how successful our lives are: the connections we make with others, how much love and happiness we inspire, the impact we have on our surroundings. By altering our definition of success, we will naturally slow down the pace of our days. By being realistic about what it means to be busy and by learning to relish the small, simple pleasures along the way, we can all find more meaning and joy in our lives.

CONSUMER CULTURE AND MATERIALISM

Consumer culture and buying material possessions are a fundamental part of society and how we live today. How we shop and consume things has changed dramatically over the last one hundred years, with shopping and buying material items becoming entangled with our identities and social statuses. We are used to consuming things at a rapid rate, not only in terms of our shopping habits and the products we buy, but also in how we consume information — pretty much anything is available at all hours of the day. If we want to live more slowly and simply, we must carefully examine and understand our consumer culture. In order to gain a greater understanding of why we consume things the way we do, it is really helpful to look back at why and how we have ended up with these current consumer habits.

The idea of buying things to achieve social status started in the 1920s, when Edward Bernays, the "father of public relations," came up with the concept of "aspirational marketing." Through his work with propaganda during the First World War, he understood how the minds of the masses could be manipulated through messages and advertising, and how powerful this was. It was during this time when society really began to "buy" into the product, along with the lifestyle attached to the product, and, most importantly, the idea that a product could make our lives better and more complete.

Soon after, the ideal of the American dream was born: regardless of social or financial status, anyone could work hard and climb the social ladder. Originally, the American dream was more about opportunity and less about material possessions; however, as consumerism developed, so did the American dream. What followed were marketing strategies designed to persuade people to consume more and more, from "planned obsolescence," where things (e.g., light bulbs and printer cartridges) are purposefully made to have a short life to encourage people to buy more (therefore, kickstarting the economy), to "perceived obsolescence," where the product (e.g., smartphones) still works, but it is no longer cool or relevant — it simply goes out of style. Whether or not an item is "in fashion" or "in style" remains the driving force behind consumerism.

One of the reasons that consumerism has become such a fundamental part of our society is the fact that shopping and buying things gives us a sense of identity, and most importantly, our sense of worth comes from the "stuff" we consume. Often this is fueled by the idea that something is lacking from within, and whatever we consume can fill that void and fix us. "The stuff props up our identity." This is particularly apparent in the way women are marketed to, as magazines are good at showing them impossibly perfect ideals, and with the turn of a page, showing them products that will help them attain this unrealistic definition of "beauty," whether it is clothing, beauty products, or home decor.

It is also a common misconception that material possessions are directly related to making us happy, with many of us even using shopping and consuming things to avoid difficult situations in our lives. It is easy to get caught in the loop of working to earn money, to buy material possessions (that fuel the economy), to improve social status and happiness. But, of course, material possessions and consuming things don't actually do this. Study after study shows us that experiences, not things, make us happy.

Buying stuff can be fun, but it is important to notice what is motivating you to shop and consume — whether you are buying something because it is an essential item or whether it is a treat or luxury, providing a boost for your sense of identity and self-worth. It is also important to realize that even essential purchases are still wrapped up with our sense of self. Actually separating our consumer choices from our sense of identity is difficult, but having an awareness of the industry and how we are marketed to gives us the understanding to make more conscious choices.

That said, many of us are beginning to realize that the way we consume material possessions today simply is unsustainable for our planet. In order to initiate change, we must be aware of and take responsibility for our part in the consumer chain. By being thoughtful about our purchases, we will naturally begin to consider the environmental and the ethical impact that an item has on others and the planet. We must not underestimate the power we have as consumers to encourage change through the choices we make.

THE ART OF WAITING

There is an art to waiting for things, but it is becoming an unfamiliar concept to many of us in our consumer culture of instant gratification. We have become so used to having everything immediately accessible that we have forgotten how to patiently look forward to something and savor the suspense. By intentionally absorbing something at a slower pace, our enjoyment of it increases. Along with the buildup, excitement, and anticipation of the event, we are able to soak up as much joy as possible by being really present.

Our mood improves by having things to look forward to; these don't need to be big, extraordinary events but can be really simple pleasures, from our favorite TV show airing once a week (as opposed to binge-watching back-to-back episodes) to spending some time cooking and planning a simple lunch, then enjoying eating it with family and friends.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Seeking Slow"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Melanie Barnes.
Excerpted by permission of The Quarto Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface, 7,
SLOW LIVING: AN INTRODUCTION, 13,
What It Means to Live a Slow and Simple Life, 14,
Realistic Slow Living, 16,
Reflecting on the Past, 17,
THE CHALLENGES OF OUR MODERN AGE, 23,
The Glorification of "Busy", 24,
Consumer Culture and Materialism, 26,
The Art of Waiting, 30,
The Digital Age and Virtual Consumption, 31,
LIVING LIGHTLY | Digital Detox, 34,
TIME, 37,
Valuing Our Time, 38,
Managing Our Time, 39,
LIVING LIGHTLY | Working Smarter, 44,
Our Purpose and Priorities, 46,
LEARNING TO NURTURE OURSELVES, 49,
Making Time for Ourselves, 50,
LIVING LIGHTLY | Slow Moments, 52,
Embracing Self-Compassion, 53,
Play, 56,
Daydreaming and Boredom, 58,
WELL-BEING: BODY, 61,
Learning to Listen to Our Bodies, 62,
LIVING LIGHTLY | The Benefits of Listening to Your Body, 64,
The Body-Mind Connection, 66,
A SLOW HOME, 69,
Creating a Slow Home, 70,
Simplifing Our Belongings, 72,
LIVING LIGHTLY | Decluttering Your Home, 76,
SEASONAL LIVING, 79,
How to Live Seasonally, 80,
Welcoming the Seasons, 81,
LIVING LIGHTLY | Seasonal Decorations and Activities, 84,
Nature Therapy, 86,
SUSTAINABILITY, 89,
Conscious Shopping, 90,
Slow Fashion, 91,
LIVING LIGHTLY | Conscious Consumerism, 94,
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, 96,
A Homegrown and Natural Home, 100,
WELL-BEING: MIND AND SOUL, 103,
What Is Meditation?, 104,
What Is Mindfulness?, 105,
Why Meditate and Practice Mindfulness?, 107,
LIVING LIGHTLY | The Benefits of Meditation, 109,
Meditation Techniques, 110,
How to Begin to Meditate, 111,
DAILY SLOW-LIVING RITUALS, 113,
Creating a Ritual, 114,
From Ritual, to Routine, to Habit, 115,
LIVING LIGHTLY | Daily Mindfulness, 117,
Establishing a Quiet Corner, 118,
Conclusion, 123,
Acknowledgments, 127,
About the Author, 127,
Notes, 128,

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Seeking Slow: Reclaim Moments of Calm in Your Day 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Ginger Hudock 21 days ago
Seeking Slow is the next, of many, in the category of simplicity and slower living. This book is beautiful, with very evocative photographs on a majority of the book's pages. It is a short book (126 pages) and covers a large variety of topics including time, self care, listening to your body, a slow hot, mind and soul care, a slow home, sustainability and more. Because the author covers so many topics in a short book, she does not have much space to go into any of these in great detail. If the reader is new to the topic of simple living, this book might be a good introduction. If they have read much in this area, then likely they will learn nothing new from Seeking Slow. I was very familiar with this topic, and as a nutritionist and healthy lifestyle expert, most of this book was not new to me. I enjoyed the beauty of the book, however. I would like to thank the publisher for allowing me to have an advance review copy on NetGalley.