In Yoga for Trauma, we move s-l-o-w. Well, what’s so great about that?

When I used an online thesaurus to find synonyms for “Slowness,” I was a little dismayed. I found the following suggestions:

  • Dull; sluggish
  • Unwillingness; indifference
  • Apathy; lethargy
  • Listless; stagnant
  • Weak, feeble
  • Impotence, inactivity

I didn’t see any positives in that list, did you? Well, it’s clear that our fast-moving, instant-gratification culture has totally demonized “slow.” Hurry up! Don’t be late! We need this done yesterday! What’s wrong with you? Get with the program! Get moving! No time to rest!

“Slow” has been associated with failure, with crisis, with stupidity. A ‘slow economy’ is reason for panic. Being a slow learner or needing repetition is considered a deficiency. Slow internet is the worst thing imaginable to some. Slowness feels like a death state to others. Taking your time is seen as being obstinate or inconsiderate.

No wonder we’re all wound-up so tight and stressed out! We’re not allowing ourselves or each other to slow down — EVER!

I decided to come up with a few synonyms of my own to replace the negative-tinted list above. Here are some better synonyms for SLOW:

  • Peace; quiet
  • Leisure; luxuriating
  • Pleasure; savoring
  • Pause; rest
  • Rejuvenation; relief
  • Tender care; unwinding
  • Gradual change; patience
  • Comfort; softening
  • Sustaining

How does your body feel after reading that list? Better? Can you notice even a little softening in your body as you take in the words, like a long exhale that’s been waiting to happen?

Yoga and somatic healing came from a culture that embraced deep trust in divine timing. Grace, serenity and slowness were rooted into the tradition at every level. Patience for a long journey was built-in. Until yogic practices were imported and adapted by the West, yoga was never intended for fitness, athletics, or appearance. When used for these purposes, yoga can actually harm your health!

Health Detriments of FAST

Let’s talk about the real-life effects here.

Say you are in constant high alert and inner pressure. Your body is literally sending signals to your brain that you’re in danger. Your brain is receiving those messages and in turn signaling to the body to tense up even more, work harder, go further into states of defense and distress.

This vicious cycle completely compromises your body’s ability to carry out important metabolic functions related to immunity, cell repair, and digestion.

In this state of defense, you’re also feeling that you aren’t safe; that you can’t trust life, other people, or yourself. When you project that energy to others, they respond in negative ways. When you feed that energy to yourself, you feel not-good-enough, insecure, and like something’s wrong with you deep-down.

Moving fast, you can actually block your own progress spiritually, materially, and psychologically. You might lose the ability to appreciate what’s going right in your life.

Too fast and too much, when not in balance, are actually courting disaster! It’s like a car with no brakes.

Health Benefits of SLOW

When you intentionally and repeatedly take the time to pause, slow down, surrender, and go inward: something different happens. You shift out of sympathetic [fight-or-flight] and your parasympathetic nervous system [rest-and-digest] finally has a chance to take over.

Your body has been waiting for this! Deep healing and rejuvenation take place in a parasympathetic-dominant state.

Your body is truly nourished at a deep level by such a practice, because proper digestion and nutrient absorption in the gut only happens when you’re in a state of rest. Your immune system has a chance to recover and renew its resilience. Your cells can complete important DNA repair and cell repair processes that don’t happen if you’re in a state of survival, anxiety, or threat.

When you intentionally slow down your body, your mind has a chance to rest too; especially if you are guided in this awareness by a qualified teacher or guide. You gain more access to your five senses and your bodily sensations.

This access and awareness can help you re-negotiate stored trauma reactions moment by moment. You might even access inner realms which you would usually be unaware of or skip over entirely. These subtle realms contain needed insight, intuition and understanding unique to you.

Moving slow, you have an opportunity to release old patterns and form new ones consciously. And you get to make genuine choices from a place of greater awareness and intention.

All of this magic is accessible to you. And it will change your whole life! It’s simple: just slow down, rinse, and repeat, right? The problem is, most of us don’t know how any more.

If you’re reading this, you probably grew up marinating in an endless stormy sea of urgency, anxiety, impatience, and rushing. This might have become your habitual state, so that you hardly know anything else.

Your body, your DNA, and even your ancestors might carry the heavy burdens of this persistent survival mode. And that’s what it is: urgency and panic are survival mode, not real thriving. But the good news is, you are not locked into this forever. Your body and mind are crying out, craving change: Rest is possible for you. It just takes time, learning, commitment, and repetition.

So you will need support to access slowness. Most people do.

You could probably use some guidance and reassurance, as you drop into what might be unfamiliar territory. Someone who can help you find ease and learn to trust yourself more. Someone who can act like a compass, to help you navigate (slowly!) into surrender. Someone who will act as a guide; offering deep support, patience, deep listening, and proper scaffolding for this sacred inner journey.

I am offering that support. I can guide you to deep rest and the positive side of SLOW.

I hope you join me on this journey, with love.

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