Posted by: B Gourley | January 21, 2012

The Virtue of a Slow Life

I started doing tai chi a couple of years ago in order diminish the effects of premature arthritis (an endeavor in which I believe it succeeded spectacularly.) In doing so, I found that the most challenging part was maintaining a slow and even pace throughout the forms. The Yang style 24 Forms meant to take 6 minutes was hard to do in more than three. My martial arts experience has been in the realm of kobudō in which explosive movements were the norm, and slow even pacing is atypical – instead there is a flow that includes moments of stillness, moments of blitzkrieg, and a range in between. Still, I don’t think it is the kobudō mindset that made this kind of slow flowing movement difficult, but rather the pace of modern life.

In modern life there is a propensity to pack too much into a day, and this results in a compulsion to move too quickly. We eat too fast. We work too fast. We drive too fast. Besides the stress involved, which may or may not be bad for one, I believe one’s awareness and clarity of mind suffer because of this rapid pace of life. With the mind constantly preoccupied, one loses touch with one’s environment. Also, being so busy, fewer people read in favor of entertainment which is more rapid (television, movies, video games, etc.), but these media develop the mind’s capacity for abstraction far less and contribute to reduced mental agility.

Eating too quickly is unhealthy in a number of ways. First, the foods that tend to be available for rapid consumption are calorically dense. Second, when one eats too quickly one over-consumes before feeling full. Finally, when one under-masticates one’s food, one my not get all the nutritional value that one should from it.

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