Insights

From Slow to Timeless

In our fast-paced world, a number of movements support “slowing down” – from slow food and slow journalism to slow business. While these approaches are meant to help us take a break or shift out of high pressure fast paced environments that can feel unnatural and leave us feeling burned out, we offer a different perspective. The advice to go slow suggests we focus our awareness on one thing at a time.  And sometimes, while this is exactly what is called for, one limitation of this approach is it won’t help us be present to the complexity of the whole. It is a bit like focusing on one thread a time, and not the tapestry. In doing so, we can miss important information that is simultaneously incoming.

An alternative is to step outside of the tension between fast and slow altogether, as a polarity, and move into a state of awareness where we are not concerned about whether the movement is fast or slow. This might be called timelessness. You have perhaps experienced this in a state of flow when hours flew by and it felt like minutes or the reverse, when a few minutes felt much longer.

So, how does one find this place of timelessness? It has to do with making the smallest amount of space in our awareness when we find ourselves in overwhelm (“things are moving to fast”, “there is too much going on”). This sliver of space between our feeling of overwhelm and our response to it allows for a timeless moment where we can expand our awareness and not immediately move to reaction (or retreat). It’s a moment when we can take in the complexity of the moment and have more choice about how to respond. You might think of it as standing in the absolute stillness in the eye of the hurricane.

In business, we can ask ourselves, how present are we to the maelstrom, the chaos? Are we trying to slow things down to a manageable frame, or are we making space in our awareness to be present to greater complexity and more frames within the moment? What if the answer isn’t in slowing down or speeding up? What if it comes back to an expansion of awareness?

 

 

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