Category Archives: Mindfulness

Slow down and find contentment in the moment, just as it is. Learn more about meditation, getting out in to nature, paying attention and mindful movement.

40 Ways to Slow Your Holidays

Catherine Zaidova Cue the jazzy Christmas tunes – it’s our final episode of the year! Welcome to the very festive, very fun, very crowd-sourced holiday special, where we share your tips for staying slow in the silly season (and throw in some of our own). Thank you so much to everyone who got in touch – we loved reading through your responses, and hearing all the different ways you not only cope with, but truly enjoy what can be a stressful time of year. We’ve got more than 40 tips from listeners on how to bring a little more slow to your pretty much every area of your holidays, including:
  • holiday traditions
  • gifts
  • finances
  • food
  • time with family and friends
  • decorations
  • environmental impact
There’s so much goodness in here, and definitely something for everyone to consider for both this year and next. Whether it’s sipping a candy cane martini every Friday night like Steve (shoutout to Steve! Ben wants to be you when he grows up!) or getting organised with gifts, I hope you’ll find a little knowledge nug that resonates with you. But if you’re already feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin, I’d encourage you to step back from all the plans, all the to-dos and all the pressing engagements, just for a few minutes, and ask yourself what your priorities are for the holidays. How do you want the holidays to feel? What do you want to look back and remember after the rush is over? That’s a pretty great place to start from because it re-centres your attention on the things that are most important to you (and chances are they’re not really things at all, but people and time and connection and sharing a meal with people you love.) And that’s a wrap (pun intended!) Thank you so much for your support throughout this weird and wild and wonderful year, it means so much and is why we do what we do every day. Ben and I wish you a safe and happy holiday season, and all the best for 2019. We’re looking forward to more slow times ahead and will be back in your ears with our annual Summer Series, kicking off on Jan 3. See you on the flip side fam! xx PS. If you want to learn more about our new year-long, five-minutes-a-day slow experiment, head over here and check out 365 Days of Slow.

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Mindful Moments (Journaling) – A Slow Experiment

Steven Houston It’s the last Slow Experiment episode for September! For the final week of Mindful Moments, Ben and I look at journaling as way to bring a pocket of slow and mindfulness to a busy day (and our days certainly were busy during the book tour). It’s no secret that Ben is not the biggest journaler alive (see: the great journaling experiment of 2016), but by the end of the episode even he is convinced to give it another crack. Maybe. On the other hand, I am a big journaler, and have used it as a tool to manage anxiety, give shape to my mornings and help me find slow moments in everyday life for many years. I found during the book tour that the busier life got, and the more I had to strip back my morning rhythm and self-care, journaling was a thing that stuck, and kept helping. It gave me immediate relief on anxious days, was portable and easy, could be as big or small a task as I needed and I felt the effects throughout the day. (If that’s not a testimonial to the power of the journal, I don’t know what is.) We then share a few ideas for ways to bring journaling into your day, from my ideal scenario (Julia Cameron-style, 3 A4, handwritten, stream-of-consciousness morning pages over a cup of coffee) to the reality of some days (a couple of bullet points quickly jotted down). We also share some other techniques floating around, including Gretchen Rubin’s one sentence a day and the movement that is Bullet Journaling (abbreviated to bujo, apparently!) The key takeaway here is that whatever works for you is the way to go. I also talk about some research I discovered about the impacts of journaling on physical and mental health. Studies have shown that journaling can help:
  • strengthen your immune system
  • people who journal regularly heal more quickly and get fewer colds/flus and viruses
  • reduces levels of stress, anxiety and depression
  • influences our emotional intelligence and our ability to identify and solve problems in relationships
Join us this week and experiment with a different kind of journaling. Feel free to share your efforts over on Instagram, using the hashtag #slowexperiment.

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Mindful Moments (Observation) – A Slow Experiment

Neil Thomas
“Mindful attention is choosing to make our mindfulness practice the act of diving deep into one detail.”
In this week’s episode we continue our month of Mindful Moments for the Slow Experiment, looking at the technique of mindful attention or observation. This is something I’ve been practicing for a few years now, and is an excellent example of just how simple mindfulness can be. At its core, mindfulness is paying attention, and this technique takes that to a granular level. This week we encourage you to try sitting in study of a tiny detail for a couple of minutes, noticing something you wouldn’t have otherwise, and then see how you feel afterwards. Another way to do this is a body scan, where you sit and rotate your awareness through each of your five senses for a couple of minutes in total – getting very specific about what you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste. I still remember the impact this had on me at the height of my overwhelm and depression years ago, and the way it would pull me into the present moment and out of resentment and anxiety. For Ben, this mindful attention technique translates to the workplace as single-tasking. After years of being told multitasking is gold, he now breaks projects down into tasks and then works through those tasks one at a time, focusing on nothing else until the one at hand is complete. There are so many benefits to these techniques of stripped-back mindfulness. Towards the end of the episode I share a study I found that said even after one week of a short daily mindfulness practice, participants showed significant improvements in attention, energy and ability to cope with stress, as well as in processing, working memory and executive functioning. We’d love to hear how you’re going if you’re playing along, and whether you’ve noticed any benefits like these after last week’s breath experiment. Here’s to more mindful moments this week!

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Mindful Moments (Breath) – A Slow Experiment

Valeriia Bugaiova
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
It’s a new month, which means it’s a new Slow Experiment. Hooray! For September, we’re are playing with Mindful Moments, and invite you to do the same. Considering how full-on and intense the book tour has been over the past few months (and continues to be for much of this month) we really wanted to keep this Slow Experiment as simple and achievable as possible, while still experimenting with the question of whether it is actually possible to live a slower life amidst a fast and busy season of life. As a result, this is probably the most accessible experiment of all time, and in this episode we share their our personal intentions for the month and explain how you can start to bring more mindfulness into your daily life – no matter how full and fast and busy it is. For us, mindfulness is all about paying attention without expectation or judgment. We’re all about stripping mindfulness back to its essence, which means this is not a meditation experiment (although you can meditate if you like) and doesn’t require any apps or colouring books. Instead, it’s simply an exploration of four different mindfulness practices. We’re committing to 5 minutes of mindfulness a day (because that seems do-able to us at the moment) but you can choose your own adventure. Two minutes is better than nothing at all – and the busier you are, the more likely you are to benefit from a mindful moment, regardless of how brief. In this episode we look at breathing as a mindfulness practice, and specifically focus on deep breathing (or square breathing) and lion’s breath. We break both techniques down, and you can also find links to tutorials in the links below. The benefits of deep breathing have been proven: it relieves stress and anxiety by impacting the nervous system, as well as positively impacting stress hormones. Plus, stress reduction is a win for our physical and mental wellbeing. So this month we simply invite you to have a play, see what works, and commit to a few minutes of deep breathing every day this week. Let us know how you go – connect on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to download the Mindful Moments guide for more ideas and suggestions for the experiment.

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Daily Creativity: Part 5 – A Slow Experiment

Wang Xi What an unexpectedly beautiful ride this month of daily creativity has been! In today’s poggie Ben and I wrap up our May experiment with a recap of our own efforts and realisations, as well as a whole heap of fascinating research in to the benefits (both obvious and not-so-obvious) of cultivating a daily creative practice. I began this experiment with a particular creative output in mind (starting a novel for 8-12 year olds) but have delighted in the way my practice has evolved as I’ve begun to let go of perfection, expectations and particular outputs. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve moved away from writing the story down, instead choosing to make it up it chapter-by-chapter every night as I put the kids to bed. And can I tell you, that shift has been both challenging and liberating. Some nights I’ve got the goods and will lay next to the kids for half an hour, building and weaving a new world for all of us to explore. Other nights it comes slow and clunky, and I find myself asking for their ideas to fill some of the gaping holes in my story. And while I used to think that was a failing on my part (if I can’t do it perfectly straight away then what’s the point?) but this experiment has shown me that the benefits of creativity are rarely attached to the final outcome. Instead, daily creativity has seen me increase my compassion and empathy, feel more playful and content, and I’ve rediscovered the joy of process over product. These benefits are reflected in the research into the benefits of creativity, and Ben and I spend the rest of the episode diving in to what those benefits are and why they’re so important. The ones that blew my mind most of all:
  • drawing, painting, sculpting and expressive writing have all been proven to help people deal with and process different kinds of trauma, by allowing them to access and express emotions that can be difficult to articulate otherwise
  • writing by hand can help boost memory and effective learning (as opposed to typing, which doesn’t have the same impact)
  • play-acting or theatresports can lead to improved psychological wellbeing, problem-solving and word recall, with the benefit lasting up to four weeks
  • expressive writing can help with chronic pain management
  • music therapy has been proven to boost the immune system in some participants, as well as change and improve responses to stress
  • expressive writing has also been linked to the increased production of a white blood cell called the CD4+ lymphocyte, which is key to a well-functioning immune system (or put another way: writing actually helps our bodies build a stronger immune system…)
Now I don’t know about you, but this list of benefits blows my mind. To see not only that creativity can help us to feel better emotionally, but is also good for us physically is just incredible and is certainly not something I expected when we started the experiment a few weeks ago. But like so many elements of slow living, we now find that there is a strong thread that connects so many parts of life: Creativity impacts our mental health. Walking in nature can help us fight off a virus. Deep breathing can reduce stress. Sharing a kindness with a stranger can increase our sense community. The more we experiment, the more connections we discover and the more convinced I am that slowing down and learning to live more intentionally really can help us change the world. Now, if that sounds a little too lofty for you (perhaps you’re thinking, “I don’t even have time for five minutes of creativity, I don’t think I can manage changing the world!”) we also round out today’s episode with a list, courtesy of Psychology Today, of ways to incorporate creativity in to your daily life, no additional time or equipment necessary:
  • if you find yourself disagreeing with someone, choose to respond in the exact opposite way you normally would and see if the shift in perspective changes things
  • take a different route to work
  • spend time daydreaming and see if it allows you to reframe a problem you’re trying to solve
  • get ahead on a project you’re working on, and avoid the creativity vampire that is deadline procrastination
  • think about a problem you’re trying to solve before going to bed, and let your brain churn it over while you sleep
We’ve loved watching your #slowexperiment posts on Instagram this month (so many delicious cakes and gorgeous gardens!) and would love to know how you found the experiment. Did you discover, or re-discover, a creative passion? Did you unlock an unexpected benefit of creative time? Did you struggle with perfectionism or playfulness? In the meantime, enjoy the episode and, as always, thank you for listening.

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