Slow Living?



When I first heard about the concept of Slow Living, I was listening to a Podcast in the middle of the hectic downtown Toronto Highway 401 traffic, I rolled my eyes because I thought to myself ‘Slow living, yet another privileged western trend we fabricate out of boredom or to justify laziness #FirstWorldProblems’. Spending time in Congo, has made me realize how my current lifestyle, which is extremely different than the one I live in Canada, is a ‘slow living’ lifestyle. All Slow Living really is, you making a conscious effort to live a life that is slower in pace than the fast pace lifestyle of the western world. It is really taking the ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness, and applying it to your day-to-day life. Slow Living is not really a novice idea in most places in the world, where people already live a slower pace of life. It is however, harder for populations living in a capitalist society to embrace this way of living, because a capitalist economy is heavily reliant on quick turn over, fast results, and working crazy long hours to yield tangible results to generate profit. While, I recognize that I am a beneficiary of a capitalist western economy, my lifestyle in Congo is a great reminder that, you can be productive without anxiety and stress being a source of drive or motivation.
Here are things that I have done daily so far in Congo to practice ‘Slow Living’ and its benefits:
Solitude and silence aren’t deadly, it’s actually refreshing. Being a natural extrovert, I often get my energy from being around people and sometimes talking far more than I need too. Spending time in Bukavu, east of Congo where I do most of my work, I am usually by myself up in the mountains overlooking Lake Kivu. This time alone has allowed me to appreciate silence, and not fear it. It also allowed me to be okay with sometimes spending a day doing nothing but cooking, reading a book, and watch Netflix.
More time spent cooking new recipes, has been one of my goals for my life as an adult. In Canada, between jobs, school, social life, cooking often took a back seat and seems more time consuming than fun. Slowing down has allowed me to try cooking a new recipe per day. This allows me to really educate myself on my food consumption; what am I eating? What are health benefits to each item consumed? What food groups are complementary to my immune system? I am really enjoying educating myself this way.
My Diet has drastically changed, which is one of the many things that I love about living in the southern sphere, the abundance amount of naturally grown fruits and vegetables without any GMOs. I have so many mangos, bananas, coconuts and cauliflower trees growing in my backyard, along with many other fruits and veggies sold at the local market down the street. Eating such foods, has cleared out my skin drastically, and helped me shed some weight.
Doing less, but doing it well, has been a new life challenge suggested to me by my mom. In the past, I would sometimes catch myself being ‘busy’ for the sake of being busy. Or, I would take on too much, and not always follow through on each commitment, this is not good. While in Congo, I make a conscious effort to tackle one task a day. If I am unable to get that one thing done right away, I don’t stress about it, because I understand that it may not be pressing and I can get it done some other time.
Exercise more often and keeping it simple is key. Some love going to the gym, I do not. I often sign up for a gym membership, and then get frustrated shortly after because I only used my membership twice in a month, yet I paid $40 for it. In Congo, I have been taking advantage of the weather, mountains and hidden back roads to do more hiking and I have challenged myself to slowly get into jogging. The beautiful thing about hiking, jogging and speed walking daily is that it’s free!
Reading and journaling daily. In Canada, reading and journaling goes on my ‘To-Do’ list, making it a chore, which is tiresome. Making a conscious effort to slow down and take a deep breath daily, allows me to take full advantage of my Amazon Kindle books subscription by reading at least 3 books a week. I also get to do some journaling about my thoughts, dreams, aspirations while listening to some Jason Mraz and Norah Jones over the balcony with palm trees blocking the sun from blinding me (#Blessed).


While I acknowledge that Slow Living isn’t for everyone, I do advise to attempt blocking time off your busy schedule to slow down and take time for yourself as part of your Self Care routine. No, this does not make you selfish or lazy. Believe me, it helps you appreciate your daily blessings that you may overlook because you’re so ‘busy’.

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