In the midst of any activity during the day, raising a cup of tea to your lips, reaching out to answer the phone, continue doing exactly as you have been doing, but slow your movements down. Move at a quarter of the usual speed, or even less.
Become aware of the minute details involved: the movements of individual muscles, the thoughts and feelings that accompany each action. Practice in this way for several minutes. Then continue with your day.
When each activity becomes only a step in a process, so we can cross it off the mental list and move on to the next thing, then everything becomes automated, happening as quickly as possible. We just want to get it out of the way.
Certainly, it is like that for most people when dialing a phone number, brushing their teeth, checking their e-mail, or operating a computer or another machine. In a restaurant, cooking and serving food often gets to be like that for the people working there, as they wind up doing the same thing over and over again.
For some of us, even meeting new people can become automated and fast: such as for the person behind the cash register in the supermarket, or a politician shaking hundreds of hands, or an author signing books at an event. We can even get sped up and automatic in our parenting, in art or creativity, and, scary as it may seem, even in our lovemaking.
The simplest way to restore conscious presence to any activity is to slow it down to a quarter of the usual speed. While taking a shower, reach out for the shampoo or the soap slowly enough that you really feel the water cascading on your body and smell the perfume of the shampoo. You will notice how much there is to experience, just in your small shower stall.
Drinking a cup of tea, or eating an apple, if you slow it all down, will reveal an entire world of sensory delight locked away in these small acts. When talking to a friend, if you consciously take a longer time to say the same thing, pausing between each small phrase, you will immediately discover the tidal waves of feeling and energy flowing between the two of you, in just the simplest of exchanges.
If you choose to practice in this way, try slowing down many times a day for a week to ten days. It will restore awe to your world.
This is an excerpt from Arjuna’s book, Leap Before You Look, order by clicking the link.
photo credit: http://tea4theheart.wordpress.com/tag/green-tea/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jiuck/5300116949/, http://jbowmancantsleep.blogspot.com/2011/09/blog-off-2011-frustration-by-way-of.html