Slow: A door to love
Do you want the people you care about to feel loved by you? Do you want to feel connected to others, more connected to yourself, and more loving of yourself?
Love, that ‘magic potion’ that we all need and want, can be elusive when we want to capture it in words. Here is what some great teachers have said about love:
“Where there is love there is life.”
“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love. To know how to love someone, we have to understand them. To understand, we need to listen.”
Thich Nhat Hahn
We know love as a feeling. However, love is also an action. Love is a way of being and doing that generates the experiences and the awareness of being loving and being loved.
Would you like to be better at loving? If there were an easy and accessible way to learn to love better, would you want to find out more about it?
Some of you may be thinking: “Love is a spontaneous thing. Babies, even animals know how to love. It’s not something that you learn.” This is true. We are born with an innate ability to love, just as we are born with the ability to breathe. At the same time, humans are mega learners. We depend on learning for everything we do. Just like we can evolve our ability to breathe, we can get better and better at loving throughout life, or not. In other words, the ways in which we love are subject to our experiences, which means that we can evolve the our ways of loving.
While most of us are successful in loving some of the time, be it our children, our spouses, our pets, our belongings, even ourselves, it’s often the case that, despite our best intentions, we know we could, and would like to do much better. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a tool we could apply intentionally that would give us access to loving more often, more deeply, more reliably, and more effectively? Well, a simple, yet powerful tool, exists. It’s what we call in Anat Baniel Method®NeuroMovement® the Essential of Slow.
What do we mean by Slow? We simply mean slowing down, for example, slowing the speed with which you talk, move, touch, or explain something to another person. The secret behind Slow is that it allows us to feel more and to connect to another person in ways that Fast excludes.
From the brain’s point of view, with Fast, we can only do what we already know by accessing deeply grooved patterns in the brain. Fast is our habitual self. For example, when you help a child get dressed, if you move very fast, you may also be less aware and considerate of their experience. You cannot feel and “dance” with a child in a hurried state, and you will likely have to override them at least to some degree.
A child being touched and moved this way is unlikely to experience the feeling of being loved. Try and recall a time when you were touched by someone (not necessarily a lover) who left you feeling loved. Were they rushing? Probably not.
To love, and to connect, we need to be in the here and now. With Slow we can do the new and the old, we can be with the known and the unknown. Since love and connection are intimately related, Slow creates the opportunity for us to feel what is going on inside of us, while perceiving and acknowledging the experience of the other person. Slow is a door to connection and a door to love.
The human brain is uniquely capable in its ability to develop greater and greater complexity and refinement. That quality gives us the ability to be aware of ourselves and what we do, and it gives us the ability to act intentionally. We can choose to be Slow as a way to be loving in our interactions with others and in how we are treating ourselves.
And there is an extra bonus for developing the skill of Slow – it gets the brain’s attention! Slow is one of the 9 Essentials in NeuroMovement® because it wakes up the brain and facilitates the creation of large numbers of new neural connections that lead to an enhanced ability to learn. In other words, it is healthy for our brain, and it acts as a powerful anti-aging agent.
A few ways to bring Slow and love into your life:
- First, practice slow-moving by yourself. Start with movements that are easy and safe for you to do, such as movement of your fingers. Or you can take any habitual activity in your life, like making coffee, and take just 2-3 minutes to intentionally slow down and notice what you feel. Do that a few times a day with whatever activity you are engaged in.
- Practice slow-moving as you interact with another. You can do this with a child you are helping to perhaps get dressed or do their homework. In addition to slowing your rate of speaking and moving, look for opportunities to help the child slow down, and bring this Essential into their process of learning and your process of explaining, demonstrating, and teaching. By so doing, your child is much more likely to figure out what needs to be learned, and they will feel more understood and more loved by you.
- Slow touch with objects – the way you pick up or touch objects is a great place to start. Do you bang things when you put them down? Do you grab objects with excessive force and speed? Take a few times a day to intentionally interact with objects in a Slow manner.
- Slow touch with living beings – if you have a pet, try slow moving and slow touching with them first. (Anat was amazed the first time she tried this with a horse. The horse responded to Anat’s Slow touch by gradually leaning and “melting” into her body so much so that she was concerned that it might fall on her. To her amazement, the moment the horse matched her body weight, it regulated its leaning so it became a magical experience of connection! Since then, Anat has intentionally recreated this experience with thousands of clients, young and old, and the feeling of connection and immediate transformations continue to inspire.
As Stephen Gould, the famed evolutionary biologist wrote, “we are born to die unfinished.” The human brain is uniquely geared to continue learning throughout life. What better thing to learn to excel at than LOVE?