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Slowing Down

There are two gears in my body: fast and stop. I am trying to find or create some intermediate speeds, but it is very difficult. I have even tried QiQong to slow me down and to notice the moment. Even with this, I find I am faster in the movements than everyone else. I can sit and meditate and get lost in time and space, but once I start moving I get faster and faster.

This past summer I participated in the online prayer sessions that Patience Robbins led. One of the sessions was slow walking. We were supposed to walk slowly, be aware of our breathing, and look intently, see and inhale our surroundings. I tried and tried and tried. I continue to try. There are some things in life that take a long time. Slow walking or slow anything is that for me.

On our pilgrim’s way, we need companions, we need to hear from others, their struggles and wanderings as well as receive support and compassion for ours. Online prayer is a lifeline for me. I live in an area where there are not too many people. In fact, there are more cows than humans. This means that unless I speak cow language, I don’t have a lot of interaction. Being a spiritual person and one seeking relationship with others on a spiritual journey, the online prayer courses offered by Shalem are a Godsend—something I can tap into and actively participate in.

Each course offers a different aspect of living in the present in contemplation. I did not think the courses would provide me with new information, but I was wrong. On a spiritual journey, we are constantly changing, like the ever-flowing river. We will be different people tomorrow than we are today. Our emotions are constantly triggered by things of the environment, by things of worldly conflict, whether to get involved or not, by life and death, by sudden illness or accident; the list is never-ending.

For me, my saving grace is to be drawn back into the space of the Divine, back to a space where I can breathe and open my eyes and see the wonder around me. This helps me remember that I don’t have to be responsible for all that happens in the world. Slowing down helps me focus more clearly on the things that do matter, like holding my 19-year-old cat or sitting with my husband by the fire and watching the flames, like reading Julian of Norwich or Anne Lamott. When I take time like this, I realize I really can slow down and just be. My mind slows down, my heartbeat slows down, my breathing slows down. In fact, my whole body, mind and soul seem to find a place of harmony and rest.

I invite you to join me on the next course. Perhaps we will meet online, perhaps we will find that we have things in common, perhaps we will begin to support one another, perhaps we will be able to laugh at ourselves and one another thereby making our day a day of joy and gratitude. It is amazing how much can open up from slow walking, slowing down, and opening our senses.

A longer version of this piece appeared as a Shalem blog in 2013.

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Joanne Bogan
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Joanne Bogan

I am interested in learning more about this type of meditation