How Slow Can You Go?
March 13, 2021 8:00 AM   Subscribe

Looking for suggestions for changing my perception of time as something that is flying by. Would like some tools for slowing down time.

Not working during the pandemic and this year has gone by quicker than any other year of my life. I am acutely aware of a perception of having very little time left alive and would like to change these perceptions and be more able to savor and be aware of each moment. I already meditate and am slowed down and aided in this quest by that, but I don't want to spend 8 hours a day meditating. I keep a journal. In other years I have solved this problem by constant traveling. I am a pretty here and now person and have few plans and goals already. Is this part of the problem?
posted by Xurando to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
If you have a yard, take up gardening. Or if not, take walks in a park every day and take note of how things change over the seasons (you could also take daily photos). If you can't grow food at home, go to your local farmers' market and eat food that's in season. Cook as much as possible rather than getting takeout, listen to music while you cook, take your time with it.
posted by pinochiette at 8:24 AM on March 13, 2021 [1 favorite]

This article might be helpful.

Anecdotally, reading lots of books does this for me. I think about books I read in January and think, “Wow, that was so long ago!” because I’ve read 15 more books since then.
posted by brook horse at 8:27 AM on March 13, 2021

From my understanding, the key thing is that your brain collapses repeat experiences in your memories, so having novel experiences is what you are looking for. Traveling is great for this as you mentioned, but you can do things at home as well as long as you're mixing it up--start some new hobbies, learn new things, connect with people in interesting ways.
posted by past unusual at 9:10 AM on March 13, 2021 [6 favorites]

+1 for novel experiences. When I go on hiking/backpacking trips where I literally never see the same thing twice (sleeping in a different place every night!) and I'm constantly meeting new people etc one week can feel like a year of living a constant routine where very little changes.
posted by ToddBurson at 3:37 PM on March 13, 2021

Mindfulness meditation if that’s ok with you.
posted by matildaben at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2021

Meditation and learning to be present. Time flies because we're not paying attention.
posted by Awfki at 5:11 AM on March 14, 2021

I came to say "grow plants," which I see up in the first comment.

To add to that idea, I'll say that I grew up on a farm and even as a very young whippersnapper it instilled in me a sense of the hypervariability of moments-in-time. Which is to say, sometimes life literally moves very fast! You can grow a plot full of tomatoes, watch their spindly vines clamber up and out but otherwise look very similar day to day for months, then, all at once, boom, the flowers open, fruit sets, tiny green tomatoes swell and swell and swell and there you have it, ripe tomatoes. It's a good feeling of rhythm, in part because you yourself play an active part in it--tending the plants, of course, but also just witnessing these metrics that are outside human control but nevertheless very fully available to human experience.

On a longer timeframe than the annual cycles of the subsistence garden, there are so many extended practices that are worth diving into but I'll highlight bonsai. I took a bonsai course in DC with some friends many years ago, on a whim, and it was surprisingly, I don't know, moving? And I say that as someone who has almost always felt a little anxious about the blazing speed at which life seems to pass by. As a counterpoint to the constant urge to travel, which seems to me to accelerate the feeling of time passing quickly, bonsai gives you a benchmark living thing that you watch, tend, injure, coddle, maintain, etc. to feel the importance of time, rather than the feeling that it's slipping through fingers.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:41 AM on March 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

If meditation is working for you, maybe start bringing that mindfulness into other activities, either new or existing. If you're looking for new things, gardening has been mentioned and is one of my first thoughts, and art - any creative skill - would also be high on my list. The key is approaching your practice with a similar mindset that you approach meditation.

This can be extended to other activities too - cleaning the house, etc. Have you ever noticed which way you rotate the sponge when you wash dishes, or the particular way you wipe down the counter? Approaching this sort of work mindfully creates novel experiences - each time you do a task, you're doing it with fresh eyes.
posted by Urban Winter at 6:22 PM on March 15, 2021

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