You have heard of slow food?
It started in Rome in 1986, as a protest to McDonald’s opening a branch right on St. Peter’s square in the Vatican. Now Slow Food has spawned an entire Slow Movement.
Norwegian philosopher Guttorm Fløistad sums up the Slow Movement well:
”The only thing for certain is that everything changes. The rate of change increases. If you want to hang on , you better speed up. That is the message of today. It could however be useful to remind everyone that our basic needs never change. The need to be seen and appreciated! It is the need to belong. The need for nearness and care, and for a little love! This is given only through slowness in human relations. In order to master changes, we have to recover slowness, reflection and togetherness. There we will find real renewal.”
The Slow Movement doesn’t imply conservatism, it simply advocates a return to an appreciation for the simple and artisanal,the hand crafted and home grown.
Part of the Slow Movement is Slow Thought. An important skill for mental health.
When our parents taught us to count to ten before responding, they were onto something.
We now know that the amygdala, our oldest and reptilian brain is a hot responder with fight or flight reactivity. Our prefrontal cortex is our newest brain and seat of creativity and our best thought. The wait to ten allows the impulse to be processed by the whole brain rather than in a knee jerk reaction.
So what are some of the hallmarks of Slow Thought?
Slow Thought is Ponderous. Not usually a positive word, pondering allows whole brain consideration of all aspects of a situation. One could call Slow Thought contemplative. It takes its time to find clarity and wisdom.
Slow Thought is also Playful. It is not committed to being right at the cost of relationships. When one is too serious about anything, playfulness is sacrificed and so is the ability to not take ourselves so darn seriously.
Slow thought is also Porous, like a sponge living in the ocean. Sponges are multi cellular organisms that have bodies full of pores and channels allowing water to circulate through them. They also have unspecialised cells that can transform into other types which can migrate between the main cell layers and the jelly like spaces making up the organism. Sponges do not have nervous, digestive or circulatory systems and rely on maintaining a constant water flow through their bodies to obtain food and oxygen and to remove wastes.
These ancient aquatic animals are a wonderful metaphor for Slow Thought which allows ideas and information to flow through it and filters what is most important.
Slow Thought makes no fixed and dogmatic judgments for all time, it simply allows the nourishing of our life in each moment as we ponder and play with creative ways to be.
Slow Thought, like slow food can really nourish our lives.
Don’t hurry, be happy!