“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” Thich Naht Hanh
Last week, I took on the zen habit of doing one thing at a time. When I washed the dishes, I paid attention to washing the dishes, when I hiked, I did not talk on the phone. It was challenging and I failed far more times than I succeeded. But even with tiny bits of success, things changed. I started the habit of reading classical literature at least 30 minutes every day. In the quiet of no-cell-phone-allowed hiking, I could hear myself think. I realized that I wanted to reconnect with Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Tolstoy, and all the other great authors who inspired my writing dreams so long ago. This small change has had a bigger impact than I could have imagined. On the train, when I pull out my worn copy of Crime and Punishment, I swear the space around me improves. In the silence, quiet paper pages with no glare emit a positive influence. I don’t understand it, but it’s real. Quietly reading words on paper is unusual on the train. and reading classic literature is even less common. I feel humble as I pull out my paperback, eschewing my phone and my laptop. I actually notice that I want those devices out, to show off in a way, to fit in. I leave them in my backpack, though. In my new habit of one thing at a time, when I am reading, I am reading. Because of this one small change, I’m not getting the next new cell phone. Im stopping the march of nonstop improvement and turning back to my reason for all of this technology in the first place. Really, I just wanted the time and space to read, write, practice art, fall in love and be alive. Now, I see that I have this time and space already. In reality, I’ve always had it, but until I tried to do one thing at a time for one week, which helped me to be present once in a while, I couldn’t see this.
This week, I am adopting the second habit in our series. Do one thing, AND do it slowly. As I researched this habit, and googled the word “slowly,” most of the results were sites devoted to speeding up downloads and websites, or more effective ways to multi-task. This convinced that slowing down will be transformational for me. I’m pretty certain it will be impossible, yet I am absolutely positive this habit is required for my recovery. So now, not only will I be doing the dishes when I am doing the dishes, I will be doing them slowly. Anyone who knows me realizes this will require a miracle. So I will lean into my faith, eating, talking, writing, reading, and walking slowly, catching myself as I speed up, one minute at a time, failing mostly, and starting over.
I’m slowing down as I type this. It feels crazy.
Practice with me. One week.
Do one thing at a time and do it slowly. I dare you. And honestly, if I can do it even for this minute, ANYONE can.:)
“Slowly is holy-” Bhante Sujatha
If you’d like to review the first habit: