a daily slow down

Say that title out loud and it sounds like a country dance. Yet the mood of this post is decidedly quieter with a lower heart rate!

My regular readers know that I practice mindfulness in the form of meditation and walking around my neighbourhood.  Even when running (walking?) an errand, I gently notice my surroundings which makes me smile and feel calm as I arrive at my destination. How can we get more of that feeling?

Ideally, a holiday taken in a different location would remove daily stress and inspire deep breathing. Encountering different faces and new experiences can pull you out of your head and bring you into the current moment. But what if you cannot afford to get out of town or do not have the time?

In the past I have written about staycations as a way to ‘power down’ from daily life and do it in an inexpensive way! This time I encourage anyone to take this perspective and condense it into an afternoon, or even just an hour to recharge.

Although urban areas have amazing cultural festivals, artistic events and tons of shopping, I recommend to sometimes investigate quieter areas. Here are some low to no cost suggestions to get you started:

  • Find a part of town you have never visited and go window shopping. Walk into each store, try on clothes, taste samples of sweets, look at colourful notepaper and smell scented candles.
  • Do a google search for hidden gems like tucked away cemeteries, sculptures and memorials. Take advantage of lakeside paths and ravines.
  • Spend some time in a library you haven’t visited before. Is there a bench that you pass every day on your way to work? Why not take a book there and read for an hour.
  • You likely have a park nearby. When was the last time you visited it? Put a blanket under a tree and have a nap!
  • Take a streetcar or bus ride, just for the fun of it. In Toronto, the Lakeshore car winds through miles of city, from downtown corporate, to the shores of Etobicoke. Stay on it and ride back!
  • Make it a challenge to spend nothing while enjoying a day out. Check out interesting architecture, stunning flower gardens, massive murals, or play one of those outdoor pianos.
  • If you are a writer, document who you see or meet and create stories about them. Or tune out with your favourite music and wear dark sunglasses. Bring a camera and create a photo journey. Or for the ultimate mindful exercise, do not capture any of it.
  • Travel light, don’t bring a phone. Have only a small wallet with money, keys, and ID. Just be present in your body, feel the sun on your face and let the world hustle around you.

What change of pace activities do you enjoy in your town?