I read a quote from someone from a book about a book about to come out, somewhere. Said quote touched on the idea of using the things that so irritatingly slow us down to…slow down. And to be grateful for the prompt.

Image via flickr.
Image via flickr.

The red man at the pedestrian crossing.

A red traffic light.

A queue at the Post Office.

The slow walker.

The delayed train.

We can use such modern irritants as an instant prompt to pause and reflect and sit calmly and look around and breathe deep. And to smile at our little impatient selves. Because there’s nothing like smiling at a little vulnerable, pained, simple version of ourselves to put things into an expansive, settled perspective.

I’ve written before about how smiling at ourselves is a great meditation technique.

So much of the “pain” – physically, psychically and energetically – in my life stems from my neck-strained, forced, rigid “plunging forward” into things.

I plunge forward with my dominant right leg, and have had multiple accidents on the right side of my body as a result.

I’m in a constant state of straining forward with my head, and have incredible issues with my neck (which is relieved whenever I “sit back” and “back the f*ck off”).

My anxiety is very much related to a relentless grasping at the future. I’m often aware that my whole being is impatiently moving onto the next thing, always trying to grab hold of the unknown ahead of me, instead of serenely sitting back and, well, being glad and “knowing”.

I like simple tricks that steer me back to my knowing. Healing and evolving is about simple tricks that prompt us to better habits. One synapse at a time. When it’s simple and everyday, it’s easier to be glad. It’s also easier to see the simplicity of life and how we often get the perfect irritating prompt that we truly need right now.

Don’t you think? What irritating prompt do you swear by?

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Meg

    Lately for me it’s shopping at Terra Madre – an organic minimart in Melbourne…

  • Grace

    Beautiful reminder Sarah. I had forgotten how good your “the peculiar beauty of being forced to *splat*!” piece was too.


  • You read my mind “My anxiety is very much related to a relentless grasping at the future. I’m often aware that my whole being is impatiently moving onto the next thing, always trying to grab hold of the unknown ahead of me, instead of serenely sitting back and, well, being glad and “knowing”.”

    I have a few physical prompts; a droopy right eyelid, or tight right shoulder/neck, (damn right side!) both of which make me get up, remove myself physically from the stressful/fretful situation and move my body.
    Non physical prompts are mostly to do with the environment, I’m the one in the middle of a conversation who will go ‘Oh look at those clouds’ or ‘Wow the sun is really nice today’. I get some funny sideways looks from friends/family sometimes, but its these little things that make the day worthwhile. I’ve recently taken to thanking the sun each morning, as an antidote to that arrrgggh dont want to get out of bed feeling.

    How do you think your ‘moving holidays’, aka hiking, fit in to that need to always be moving forward? I know they’re ‘slow’ in a sense, but you still cant just stop and sit (I ask because I have the same tendancy :/)

    • Totally fit into it. But in a good way…sometimes the issue isn’t the Thing, but The Way We Do It.

  • Shaz

    getting stuck in the car, traffic, long distance its a perfect opportunity to share music I LOVE with the kids , i treat it as a kinda musical education, they may call it something else 🙂 either way we all stop, listen, relax and have a sing

  • Sarah

    I’m trying to set up and pack up my props for yoga in a yoga-like fashion. I found myself racing to put my props away first and rush off to my next thing. Now I relax, breathe, let people go ahead of me, help others. What is the point of the yoga class if I don’t pack up mindfully and hold onto the peace for a bit longer?

  • Natalie

    Walking anywhere with a toddler!

    • mw

      So true .. you can resist it for a while but in the end they point you to the truth. Miss that time with my daughter a lot !

  • Your Local Markets

    Incredibly timely. I took a “dry July” from my Facebook account and was planning lots of activities to fill up all my spare time that I thought I’d have as a result of not being on (personal) social media. Coincidentally I was also diagnosed with adrenal fatigue so rather than spending my month in boot camp, walking, yoga, socialising and oodles of activities, I spent much of it in bed or on the couch, incredibly frustrated with my fate. So in order to alleviate my exhaustion, I downloaded the Smiling Mind meditation app and started meditating and taking it easy, putting my feet up, reading an amazing book, getting to bed early and the strangest thing happened….. I started to enjoy the time out. I think we all get into the habit of busy-ness, of outcomes, results, projects and “doing” rather than being. The good news is that my health is (slowly) getting back on track, but the time out has left me with a new appreciation for slowing down, for not filling my life with so many appointments, lunches, meetings, projects and it’s great to give myself permission to whack on the ugg boots and stick my feet up. I’ve already set myself some Facebook limits (no Facebook after 6pm) so that I can read my book instead. The challenge for me will be in finding the balance between the doing and the being as I start to feel better and maintaining some of the “slow” as spring/summer approaches – and finding that one thing that will slow me down and remind me to step back.

  • Jill

    On a slightly different note, I read something a little while back in a book called ‘Sister’ by Rosamund Lipton that really resonated with me: ‘a siren’s the sound of a society taking care of its citizens’.

    So now each time I hear a siren – fire, ambulance, police – I’m grateful that we are taking care of each other, that that’s the kind of society we live in.

  • Mon

    Deep breaths after turning the light out in bed at night, waiting patiently while at the butchers on a Saturday morning, generally taking deep breaths and smiling when chaos surrounds me…trying so hard to not let it affect me…great post Sarah, this is such a constant reminder in my every day 🙂

  • Carla

    When my Thursday yoga teacher always starts the class 10 minutes late therefore finishing 10 minutes late. I’m always about keeping on a schedule. What’s 10 minutes in the scheme of things though right when it’s being dedicate to spending more time being mindful, in the present and connecting the mind, body and soul.

  • I’m feeling the same way right now, and it is incredibly frustrating. Having meditation in my life helps, although I haven’t done it in a while, and I’m too frazzled to do it in the mood I’m in. So I am trying to heed this advice. I think right now, what’s most comforting for me is to know that you and others feel or have felt the same way.

  • Nikki

    I made a conscious effort to do this all weekend. I sat behind the slower car in front of me. I didnt do my usual dodging and weaving. I got to where I needed to be, I might have been a bit later but not by much. I noticed, but so did my niece and she commented…

  • In the winter morning me and my cousin was took a selfy like this photo. This image remember me that time.

  • Nothing gets me more impatient (and mean!) than driving around southern california. I’ve been aware of this for some time and this year I’ve really been working on being more calm and patient (like I usually am!). I do a mindfulness meditation: breathing in I calm myself, breathing out I am in no hurry. I really like the idea that a stop light can be a prompt, a reminder that its good to stop and breathe.

  • Thanks for
    sharing this nice post.

  • Very nice article.Thanks for sharing your wonderful thoughts.

  • Great post thanks for shearing.

  • What an excellent writing! really so pleased by visiting this site.thanks