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On Slowing Down

A note from Erin:

I had such a laugh when a dear friend told me how much this favorite quote I shared pissed her off a few years ago:

 

My yoga mentor Donna Farhi writes,”The degree to which you do not believe you have time to spend even ten minutes sitting quietly is the degree to which you desperately need to spend ten minutes sitting quietly. If we did nothing else in our spiritual practice but reduce our accelerated pace the world would be transformed overnight.

When we find ourselves hurrying or pressing others out of our way, we might ask ourselves exactly where we are going in such a rush.

What are we running away from, and what are we running toward?

Pause for a moment.

Sit down and relax.

Take a deep breath in and out… The moment opens itself for you. Will you step in?

 

These days my friend is much more connected with her embodied experience, has done significant healing and learning, and she appreciates the truth of the statement:  Just when we think we can’t slow down, that’s likely exactly what we most need to do.

Modern culture is tremendously speedy. As someone who has been inviting people to slow down in movement and meditation contexts over the past 25 years, I can see that it’s only getting harder for people to slow down, let alone to prioritize it. Especially when it starts to feel like everything is an emergency. The new UN report on threatened species and biodiversity at risk, for example. Doesn’t it make you want to rush around and just DO something??

Meanwhile, wise ones keep inviting us to slow down.

And yet, how counterintuitive this move seems! A few years back I heard Bayo Akomolafe say emphatically, “The times are urgent. We must slow down. The times are urgent! We must slow down. The times are urgent. We must slow down.”  We’re in uncharted waters these days with a great rattling of nature and culture with so much at risk, and yet perhaps one of the most important moves we could make is to s.l.o.w. d.o.w.n.

Then there’s this point from Victor Frankl: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In the space there is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” If we’re speeding along too quickly to notice the space, our responsiveness, our freedom, our potential for learning and growth is hugely reduced. All we can do is reenact what we already know how to do. This principle is foundational in somatic education and is part of why Feldenkrais work seems like magic! Slowing down, we can discover our compulsion to enact a habitual response that may not be serving us so well. When we pause, we have the chance to do something different than what we’ve always done. And these days, that feels hugely important. Not only for our personal habits, but the very ways we are living on Earth. It’s time to take a fresh approach.

I’m thrilled that after more than a year of planning, Bayo Akomolafe will be joining us in Salt Lake City this weekend!!! He’s such a gem of a human being and offers many fresh ways to see and think and understand our present circumstances.

Bayo writes:

How we respond to the crisis is very often a part of the crisis.
And solutions are sometimes the problem’s way of masking its desire for continuity.
 “

(On the personal level, that’s exactly the territory we’re exploring in our own bodies in Feldenkrais lessons! Our response to an injury or pain is often part of the problem.)

Bayo has a gift for helping us to see with new eyes and in new ways.
I couldn’t be happier about sharing him with our community!

Carl and I love to share resources, teachers, and practices that we find profoundly helpful. This is one of those opportunities, and we’re grateful to team up with the Jung Society to host this wonderful teacher.

I can’t recommend Bayo and his work highly enough. He’s a teacher and thinker unlike any I’ve ever met. He’s wicked smart and also wise, and his good humor and vast warm-heartedness make his presence such a gift. He’s originally from Nigeria, lives with his wife and two young children in India, and is currently a guest lecturer at Middlebury College in Vermont. We’re super fortunate to have him close enough to join us in Utah.

He asks questions that are deeply important during these times.

If you’re not local, you can read his work here or find him on Facebook.

I hope you’ll consider joining me and Carl and this dear and bright man this weekend.

He’ll be doing a free talk on Friday evening (May 10) at the downtown SLC library from 7-8:30pm, and a workshop Saturday, May 11 from 9am-5pm at the Wasatch Convention Center at 75 s. 200 e at the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. (Description below.)

We even have a discount code for you!  As a member of our community, you get a 15% discount, so the workshop is just $85 (reduced from $100.) Click here and use the discount code Jsoubayo 

Riddled with storytelling sessions, expository talks, unusual exchanges between participant and environment, and other liminal rituals, this workshop is a call to the humble and difficult work of noticing other worlds, and to the tender field left in the wake of understanding that there are no solutions. Grounded in Bayo Akomolafe’s concept of post-activism, and held in a collective action-driven process of shared inquiry and sense-making called kwilting, this workshop will enchant your vision, animate your environment, and help awaken you to the sensuous possibilities often dismissed in our quests for convenient resolutions. For activists, conscientious actors, policymakers, educators, artists, and humans mostly. :) Come see with new eyes, and understand why though the times are urgent, we can slow down.

 

 

Let’s try what Donna Farhi and Bayo Akomolafe and Victor Frankl and Deena Metzger and our own tender hearts are asking us to do: SLOW DOWN.

Wishing you the joy of a speed-of-life weekend, friends.
Thank you for reading.
xo
Erin

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Erin

By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.
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