It was couple of years ago when my friend gave me a great present on my birthday- a book
"in praise of Slow. How a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed" by Carl Honoré. He is an award- winning London living Canadian journalist and TED speaker, and mainly, he is a world's ambassador for the Slow Movement.
So what really is a Slow Movement? By his words:
"It is a cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail’s pace. It’s about seeking to do everything at the right speed. Savoring the hours and minutes rather than just counting them. Doing everything as well as possible, instead of as fast as possible. It’s about quality over quantity in everything from work to food to parenting."
Even though I preach several aspects of Slow Movement in my daily life, I still have loads of areas to improve. This book was insightful. I believe readers on green carpet might find it interesting too.
He starts by examining our need for speed, compulsion to accelerate and hurry in everything we do. Why do we do everything faster? Author questions the (in)sanity of speeding up everything in our lives. Meanwhile he goes through the history of how clock became to control our lives.
In the chapter Two he shows that "Slow is Beautiful" by introducing cities and communities that choose to defy te speeding up industry and have become The Decelerators.
In the chapter Three "Food: Turning the tables on speed" he is taking you to a tasty and nice smelling journey, introducing the Slow Food idea, advocates and activists. I particularly love the part when he tells about Rome and how Carlo Petrini launched Slow Food there. "As the name suggests, the movement stands for everything that McDonald's does not: fresh, local, seasonal produce; recipes handed down through the generations; sustainable farming; artisanal production; leisurely dining with family and friends." Carl is also reminding that Slow Food is an "eco-gastronomy", it means eating well not only for your pleasure, mind and body, but also for the environment.
I think chapter Four "Cities: Blending old and new" is one of my favorites. Even though apart from very few areas our cities look a lot like his vicious examples, I enjoyed the virtual tour through Citta Slow and seeing how New Urbanism principles are applied elsewhere turning it to "Slow Urbanism". When you take a closer look on the infrastructure details of how the city or suburbs should be built according to their ideas, it is very close to the eco-village ideas.The book is also giving a good thought on Speed Awareness- how we drive our cars and how we should do that not only for Slow living idea, but for our own and others safety and opportunity to enjoy the life in living areas.
Chapter Five "Mind/Body: Mens sana in corpore sana" leads you to slow thinking and reminds of such important practices as meditation, taking time to reflect and calm your mind from the frantic jumping of thoughts. Also physical excersise is very important part of living quality life, especially slow life. Since yoga is big thing here on green carpet, I like him emphasizing the importance of it in the book too. Some interesting aspects of Eastern Chi Kung traditions appear in lives of ordinary and very dynamic sports. Slow doesn't mean that every movement has to be at a snails pace. What was totally new to me was this SuperSlow gym. I would not be ready to try it since I, just like the author, like to enjoy my practices, but I definitely understand the people who like it- it's slow in dynamics, but "fast" in terms of time saving, and it clears the mind too.
Next chapter "Medicine: Doctors and Patience" talks about the issue probably every one of us has encountered- fast paced visits in the doctors office. Although author shows some examples where Western doctors are taking more time for their patients and talk more, in reality it is still a huge problem. Therefore he goes on to discuss various CAM techniques. Most of the readers will probably already know such treatments as massage, chiropractic, osteopathy, aroma therapy, acupuncture, yoga, meditation and power of a simple relaxation. What is a nice touch in the book is introducing Reiki as a medical treatment, and I was actually amazed to read about how developed that is in London, for example. If I just knew that when I was living there! I believe this chapter would encourage more people to try out herbalists, Reiki masters and other now called "unconventional" in my opinion, the true traditional doctors, because true health is most often very little linked to medicine.
A little delicate chapter seven "Sex:A Lover With a Slow Hand" moves Slow movement to your bedroom, introducing slow foreplay, movements and surprising or not- Tantra. Important are the ways to communicate such a delicate idea as slow sex. We all do it, we all know it, but we still don't really feel very encouraged to talk about it, especially in terms of "how to do it better" rather than "look what I can do!".. What I really enjoy about the author that he goes through all the experiences himself, so he can really tell what's in it. Thanks to this book I've had few thoughtful moments about my own relationships.
Chapter eight "Work: The Benefits of Working Less Hard" probably is the most difficult part of the Slow movement and provides many examples how being slow at work and working less can be good for both life and business. Not always the reduced hours or extra time off works for everybody, of course. But the trend to slow down and take more time for the life outside of work has been set and proven to have many benefits. I really enjoyed seeing various examples on how to create work-life balance and to slow the often frantic working environments- from reduced hours to job sharing, to choosing the pace and time when you work, to yoga and meditation on the job, and even snoozing in the middle of the working day. I think we have lot to learn from those examples to find what works for us. I also believe this is the most complex area where slowness can be achieved as it is not depending only on ourselves but also many other people- colleagues, CEOs, bosses, managers and other businesses that all have their own expectations of their colleagues, employees and partners. This chapter now has been one of the most important ones since I started working.. recommendation to everyone who is tired of hectic office rush.
The next chapter "Leisure: The Importance of Being at Rest" shows how our leisure can and should become more slow. Various hobbies from knitting to gardening (believe me, not women only activities) can have immense effect on you slowing down and therefore improve your concentration abilities when you need to be active. It kind of takes your mind off the jumping thoughts, tested and proven. While reading all that I thought- I should read this book even slower.. and then the author said that another leisure revolution is a slow reading! Some music lovers might find the continuation of the chapter captivating, however, I, being also a music lover, think that the section on playing music slower was a little too long (slow?). However, the idea of endless or at least way over our lifetimes long concert was something new and kind of exciting!
Following chapter "Children: Raising an Unhurried Child" covers how the Slow lifestyle could and should (!) be applied to our family lives, especially to how we rise our children. Nowadays parents try to pack their children's days with as many activities as they can to provide best start in life. But it is crucial to give them time to develop at their own pace, to enjoy the free play. Author is also describing alternative education methods and homeschooling as a trend that complies with Slow movement. Now I'm even more and more attracted to the idea of homeschooling, but since I'm not sure whether our family could be able to do that, I still have my little one signed up for Waldorf kindergaden when the time comes and have some other alternative schooling institutions in mind..
Those thinking of applying slow movement into their own lives have probably already gone to book store to grab a copy of this piece, but what I have to say to skeptics- many of us like our busy lives, but this book just shows how to improve the quality of life too!
P.S.- This was the slowest book I've ever read- and I enjoyed reading it page by page for many, many months before bedtime. I am now thinking of which next slow book to read!