My journey~ Slowing down.

lens shift Aug 08, 2022

For a lot of parents, slowing down with their child seems like a lot to ask. They feel like they have too much going on to pause for their child's emotions, to mediate the fights between siblings and to problem-solve trouble areas rather than issuing commands.

I get it. I've never met a parent who has oodles of time.

However, I've learned a lesson in my healing journey that I hope you find helpful.

The reason for not being able to slow down is not really that we don't have time, it's that we are in survival mode.

For example, let's say Haris is going on a lovely holiday to Bali, Indonesia. Instead of his plane landing there safely... it crashes on a remote island and he's the only survivor. Now he's technically on a beautiful island where the ocean water is so clear, he can see the fish swimming underneath, and the sand is so white that his eyes squint from the sun kissing the grains of it, where the trees and shrubbery is exotic and lush - and yet, he notices none of it.

He's running around the island frantically, looking at first to see other signs of life. He might then be running around to see if there's a working radio in the plane that survived, and eventually he will be running around to find food and water.

His survival mode has kicked in. Preventing him from enjoying anything at all no matter if it's in front of his eyes and beneath his feet. He may as well be in hell, as far as his brain is concerned.

You see, I used to be in survival mode too. Everything just rushed past me. I didn't have kids for seven years of my marriage and yet, I could never stop to enjoy the view or take in the velvetty sand beneath my feet. I too, like Haris, just ran around, trying to survive.

When I cooked, I never followed the recipe because it would take 'too long'; when I drove, I drove too fast, not slowing down enough on the turns; when I went shopping, I didn't want to try on stuff because 'it takes too long'; if someone mentioned meditation I thought no way it works (and in reality I just couldn't slow down enough to do it); if someone told me to practice things if I wanted to be good at them, I thought no way... it will take 'too long'.

I had absolutely nothing to do; no job, no kids, an understanding and kind husband, and yet, slowing down and living in the moment felt... almost painful. Unattractive. Burdensome.

Whiz whiz whiz.

I just wanted everything to whiz past me. I didn't want to pause.

Why was I in survival mode? Why might you be in survival mode? Why are so many of us in survival mode?

There could be many reasons.

- Being raised with ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences)

Being raised in a home with a lot of violence (parents fighting a lot, one or both parents inciting fear inside you).

Being raised in a perpetual state of lack of safety (for any reason from a parent who uses physical discipline to something extreme like absent parents)

Any other kind of physical, psychological and emotional neglect.

- Being in an abusive relationship.

- Being in an intensely stressful environment.

- Not having dealt with past or current trauma.

You see, even if your body is no longer be IN a dangerous/unsafe situation, your brain still is because it lived or is living in that survival mode for too long. Our brains need some kind of signal to come out of survival mode (much like PTSD). This is why therapy is so important- your therapist helps you "come back" so to speak. Science tells us that the therapist-client relationship is one of the most effective ways to heal trauma and come out of survival mode.

Once I started to care about myself again, I started to slow down and that's why I say, my children saved me. Before I ever knew of meditation or mindfulness or that they are actual practices- my children taught me to slow down. That's all I did... day by day, I started pausing just a little every day... to be with them in that moment. To stop being afraid to feel and think.

You see, children are the ultimate joyful creatures. They live each moment with ALL of their little bodies and souls present. And so I learnt from them. To be with them. To drown out the noises that said "you don't have time"- I fought them and listened to my children instead and continue to try and listen. They saved me and I hope yours will save you. <3


Picture: Just one of the hundred times we slowed down to watch this stream in our neighborhood.