Like most millennials, I like to move quickly. I want to climb the career ladder, constantly have plans, and be on-the-go as much as possible. It keeps things interesting and feels most authentic to me. However, sometimes when I am caught up in the go-go-go mindset, I get overwhelmed. This is something I encountered many times throughout college, and is something I still struggle with as a post grad and young professional.
You may remember that one of my daily aspirations is to talk slower. This is something that I often forget, but realize immediately when I am speaking and my boss stares at me with a really confused expression. On top of talking more slowly, I am trying really hard to eat more slowly. This is something I have never been very good at. I can down a meal in 5-10 minutes flat. I am also a perpetual snacker. A combination which often ends with an upset stomach. This clearly is not a good way to be. Especially in college this was a constant struggle for me, eating slowly was never an easy feat.
My friend Tara is an incredibly slow eater. So slow that she uses two cereal bowls, one for milk and one for cereal so that her cereal doesn’t get soggy as she eats her breakfast. When we met freshman year, it was clear that my eating speed was absurd. Tara and I would get practically every meal together with the rest of our freshman hall friends and I would always be done first and Tara last. I remember going back for seconds and a few minutes later regretting that decision immensely, meanwhile Tara was simply starting her first/only plate. However, in time, I attempted to eat slower 1) For the good of my stomach and 2) Because it is nice to eat at the same pace as your friend. Speaking more clearly and eating at a pace that isn’t like a starving coyote are two ways that I need to slow down.
Although I will probably never be great at slowing down, I know that it is something valuable I need to implement from time to time. Recently at work, during our monthly team meetings, my manager’s boss invited a meditation expert to join us. After the regularly scheduled presentation, our guest stood up and told us the value of meditation and how many celebrities implement it daily (ex: Oprah, Heather Graham, and the list goes on). I am not going to lie, most of my team and I scoffed at the idea of having to meditate. We have so many different projects happening right now, so the idea of wasting our time sitting in silence for a few minutes felt silly. However, we decided to stick it out and try this whole meditation thing. We sat for 8 full minutes in silence. Sitting up straight, eyes closed, and steady breathing…sounds easy, right?
Meditation was very difficult. Sitting in silence and keeping your mind clear is not as simple as you might think. When you start meditation you are supposed to count your breaths to keep your mind free of stressful thoughts. For me, sitting in silence led me to think about my To Do list, Grocery list, and countless other things. Trying to bring myself back to just counting my breaths was difficult and made me think that I might have the attention span of a goldfish. However, within a few minutes I felt like I was clearing my head and simply focusing on counting. It wasn’t mindless, but instead focus. Eight minutes is actually a lot longer than you realize and by the end I felt like I definitely could not handle the 20+ minute meditation periods other people practice on a daily basis. That being said, I did feel incredibly refreshed after those eight minutes. It was like a reset button for my mind and made me feel more prepared to handle all the tasks on my list that day.
Although I don’t think I will start meditating on a daily basis, there is something to be said for this process of slowing down and allowing for a period of calm focus. Sometimes I get so caught up in everything that I forget to simply sit back and enjoy. Slowing down is something I need to focus on in all aspects of my life, and I hope that this recognition will make me more aware of my bad habits.
Have you ever tried meditation? What ways have you found that help you slow down and focus?