Druidic Arts: Slowing and stopping

I’ll start by confessing that, of all the things I’ve flagged up as Druidic Arts, this is the one I struggle most with. I’ve blogged about it before too, but it stands a revisit.

There is so much pressure in modern life to be busy, good little producers and consumers, working very hard to hold up the flagging economies and so forth. In practice this serves the already wealthy, and has the ‘bonus’ effect of keeping most of us running round chasing our tails rather than having the time or energy to really look at what’s going on, where the good stuff is, and what would serve us, the planet and our fellows as opposed to the powerful, affluent few.

The beginnings of the art of slowing down call for stepping away from the things that keep telling us to run harder and faster. Television, and the subtext in advertising are a huge source of this. It means questioning why we feel moved to run so hard, and whether there’s an alternative. Often, there is, but it may take some getting to.

Slowing down and stopping enable us to form deeper relationships with all that we encounter. Rushing through makes deep engagement difficult with any topic, or entity, or place. This bit I do ok with when I make the time for it. What I find harder is resisting the idea that I should be running, all the time. There’s a lot to do, I need to earn a living, there are wrongs to right, battles to fight, miracles needed. I know from experience that running flat out for as long as I can results in burnout, not magical transformation. I also know that resting and thinking gets more done in the longer term – working smarter, and more efficiently pays off, and forward planning enables that.

I lived for a lot of years in a situation where I was under a lot of pressure to perform, deprived of sleep, overloaded with work, and not offered much scope for downtime. I know how it works. The list of things to do is so long, that you don’t dare stop. And the more tired, run down and demoralised you get the harder it is to achieve anything. Our whole culture encourages us to demand more and faster of each other, and not to think about what that really costs.

In the last couple of years I’ve started to study the art of slowness, but I’m very much a novice here. I try to do things the slow way as much as I can – walking and cycling are my main modes of transport. I cook from scratch, wash clothes by hand. This brings a sense of realness to my life. The faster we go, the more unreal it all becomes, our minds and bodies did not evolve to cope with the speed favoured by 21st century living. Our souls do not thrive at high speeds. I’m working on learning to slow and pause, to stop and gaze, and not to feel the need to push onwards when mind and body are worn out already. I’m also working to support those around me in slowing and taking time off.

I’m less confident about what the more advanced stages of the art of slowness would look like. I assume that a calm, unhurried approach to life would take a person deeper into appreciating and seeking the good stuff, the quality in all things. I think an artist of slowness would have more defence against bullshit and media manipulation, and would better see the big picture and the long view rather than being frantic about the short term. Slowing down and thinking long term would enable enlightened self interest, and be better environmentally. Doing less definitely consumes less, so I think slowness as an art will involve recognition of what is needful, and rejection of what is not. It’s a de-cluttering of life and mind.

In my slowing down, I have learned that it is possible to be happy with very little. Rushing about forever busy makes it harder to appreciate the little things. In the slow lane are all the beauties of nature, all the simplest, most innocent pleasures of the body. There is also the pleasure inherent in calmness. Finding joy in the small and the slow takes me away from the desire to run after the big and shiny, so there’s a process here which, once commenced, should reinforce itself.

From a druid perspective, frenetic human speed takes us away from the rhythms of nature. Trees are slow. Mountains are even slower. We miss the slow voices if we rush, and I do not think the voice of spirit is generally hasty, or able to respond to that five minute gap in the schedule. Slowing down is an art that enables all other Druidic practice, and enhances life.  I shall keep working at it. Slowly.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

3 responses to “Druidic Arts: Slowing and stopping

  • Alex Jones

    Creativity is like water flowing from a river, sometimes nothing, slow and fast. Our inability to drink from the creative source is because we are blinded by the stress of life, and we miss it completely. Some people drink dust, and call it creativity; their output becomes intellectual, but without vitality or wisdom.

  • Jennifer Tavernier

    Kudos here, Nimue! LOL! I, at one time had a perfect balanced life – in the fact that I was going at hyperspeed, but ONLY in that which I wanted to do. (In my case, it was composing for choirs and costuming). Yes, I had
    a husband to cook for, regular work, but tapping into the create/awen – (I am in a whole different time zone when writing music and lyrics) – Life, while at hyper speeds, became incredibly slowed down and almost languorous. I floated, there was no stress – LONG periods of time. I found the more true one is to oneself in activities, the more time just overflows for everything. Space gets BIG. Of course, TV didn’t rate much at all, and there was no net, although there were computers. However, I do things by hand. There is an art that is satisfying to it – it is textural and easy to become part of whatever the sensation is.

    Life happened, an amiable divorce, but lots more to do-etc.Family illness, etc. And I lost touch with awen to a certain degree- bent on survival. And that was the dumbest thing ever. It is still there, and I am getting it back, after being caught up in the maelstrom of net, obligations, work, etc. I finally just put the foot down and said Awen is missing – can I get it back. Even if it is 5 minutes a day of looking and listening. Amazing stuff – 5 minutes a day, little increments that were handleable, and balance is being pretty much restored. I found out that all this extra run run is addicting in itself, but realized that 75% of it was at other people’s behest, or “socially necessary.” I began determinately cutting it down. It seemed cruel! – but I began to blossom again. And the calmness and stress-freeness started leaking in. And, others around me did fine without my “necessary” input. It is nice to know one is needed, but it can also be a disguise for “you do my job and cover the holes, as I am afraid of making decisions or being responsible.”

    So, bottom line is, be true to yourself, the more you align to “your “time,and align one’s life giving investments to it, thebigger the space gets, the more time you have for everything, and all the pacman man eatery things go away. The main thing needed is discipline to kick the background noise OUT. My biggest bugaboo was in the area of willingly accepting (and doing) – other’s jobs. (But like music, the more intense and slower you practice and get every bit of it, you will master it, up to speed.). But a hurried skimming life will leave one with a path that is full of holes just under the surface, thus perpetuating the worry/stress that one ought to go back and fill them in, and the friends following you tripping up, necessitating that you need to go back, and jump in and help.

    It has been a real interesting road to weed out what made me tick, vs what Noise I was assicted to (or had become automatic.) And you know what? The ‘automatics’ – didn’t crash the world when I flung them off. And now once again, I have a secret growing pool within me, and the outside world is doing just fine. Now I can bring more of me to the table, but it was worth learning that getting caught up in the mass stress wasn’t helping anyone! But thatwe all did better, when I was doing better! (Your own -eh – ecosphere/universe). And time? You can lean back and make all you want, with any attitude you want to fill it with! And with that added “space”, it is rather amazing to see a whole new quality tier of ideas presenting themselves, that you can pick and choose from. Or not. So yes, be afraid in a good way! There is never a shortage of things that come to view, and they will be better things!
    Thanks for touching on this. It is also really amazing to watch yourself calm down, AND to watch those in your area calm down, too. It spreads.

    • Nimue Brown

      You’ve had an epic journey there, thanks for sharing. Much of that resonates with me, as well as the ‘hyperspace’ feeling. I get it sometimes now, don’t think I want to live there anymore, but its good to have options! And yes, the surface layer with a life full of holes underneath it sounds very familair indeed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: