The Wisdom of Slowing Down


Take Your Time: The Wisdom of Slowing Down by Eknath Easwaran

This book is repetitive and is longer than it needs to be. Nevertheless, it has plenty of gems especially for people with Type A personalities. I remember reading this in 2018 when I felt paralyzed and overwhelmed by all the goals that I have set out for myself. I want it all at the least possible time. It was a stressful life.

Slowing down our life is a skill and Easwaran lays out eight suggestions:

  1. Give yourself more time
  2. Don’t crowd your day
  3. Ask what’s important
  4. Take time for relationships
  5. Take time for reflection
  6. Don’t let yourself get hurried
  7. Cultivate patience
  8. Slow down your mind

Since 2018, I have used the first three suggestions to improve the quality of my life. I have a few main goals for a given year and focus solely on these goals. The rest is noise. I try to say “No” to most things that will deviate me from my goals. On most days, I accomplish only two or three tasks with full attention.

Chapter two of this book is the cornerstone. The rest of the chapters seem to deviate from the central thesis. And like what I said, the rest of the book is repetitive after you’ve read the first few chapters.

Notes

“If an experience calms your mind, slows you down, makes you more likely to be compassionate and kind, that experience is beneficial; you can enjoy it. If it agitates your mind, speeds you up, excites your senses, or makes you angry or resentful, it is not beneficial; you should avoid it.”

With every choice, take time to ask, “What are the long-term effects of this experience? What are the costs – in calories, security, self-esteem?”

Permanent joy is far, far higher than pleasure that comes and goes.

If we satisfy one desire, another will follow; if we satisfy that, a third will come. No experience can bring permanent satisfaction because there is a limitless series of desires, one behind another, in the vast sea of consciousness.

We all need personal relationships if we want to function beautifully in life’s ups and downs.

We expect professional and financial success to require time and effort. Why do we take success in our relationships for granted? Why should we expect harmony to come naturally just because we are in love?

The more defenses we carry, the more insecure we feel – because defenses prevent us from moving closer to others.

But the secure person, the person who is comfortable with herself and tries to remember the needs of others, makes everyone else comfortable as well.

Our culture has become so speeded up today that no one has time to be patient. People in a hurry cannot be patient – so people in a hurry cannot really love.

People with the skill of putting others first often play this role. Without preaching to others or advising them, the peace of mind they radiate has a transforming influence on those around them.

As long as we believe that we are physical creatures – which is what the mass media are dinning into our ears day in and day out – we cannot help trying to satisfy all our needs in physical ways.

My observation, after many years of meditation, is that most problems are much smaller than we think. It is by dwelling on them, brooding on them, feeding them with our attention, that we make them bigger and bigger. When we learn to direct our attention to something positive, the problem often shrinks to its proper size, making it much easier to deal with –and much less intimidating, too.