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The Magic of Mindfulness: How Slow Living Changed My Life - Ardent Market

The Magic of Mindfulness: How Slow Living Changed My Life

A few years ago, I felt life was rushing by me. I was dealing with chronic illness, managing a growing business, and caring for elderly relatives. My capacity for joy, gratitude, and optimism was limited, and I often felt overwhelmed. I was constantly dealing with projects and emergencies, resulting in high cortisol levels and a flooded nervous system. Consequently, I was drifting away from my purpose and spiraling into depression and burnout.

Then, I came across an article about intentional eating. It stressed the importance of mindfulness in our food choices and paying attention to hunger cues. Reading it initiated a significant shift. It felt like turning off a faucet that was filling an already brimming bucket. I realized this whole time my soul was sending hunger cues for the nutrients it needed: rest, curiosity, hope, and beauty.

In the chaos of my busy life, I lost sight of my true desires. My life was straying from the path I wanted: a life filled with creativity, freedom, and purpose. I had forgotten what it felt like to have meaning, ritual, and a sense of control over my days. Creating a peaceful, abundant, and beautiful daily life took years of conscious effort to slow down and live more calmly and kindly.

As I designed this slower lifestyle, I defined my desires, accepted necessary choices, and practiced compassion, even when frustrated. Over time, this new path became easier to navigate. As someone who was achievement-driven and boss-babe-brainwashed, transitioning to a calmer, kinder lifestyle was quite a learning curve. This was not something I was going to perfect and overhaul my way through with any sustainability. I had a lot of unschooling to experience.

Reflecting on my journey towards slow living, I realize its profound impact on my personal growth and the gifts I can now share with others. Attuning to my body and intuition, deepening connections, observing the world around me, cultivating self-kindness and compassion, and curating my life, are all results of my commitment to this practice. These are not just personal achievements, but a testament to this lifestyle. They shape the content I create, the business I build, the interactions I have, and the inspiration I seek. They are the gifts of slow living, enriching my life and the lives of those around me.

In sharing my experiences, I hope to inspire others to explore the magic of mindfulness and the transformative power of a slower, more intentional lifestyle.

The Gifts of Slow Living

Know Yourself

Truly listening to your body requires discipline and courage, especially for those dealing with illness, injury, or living in the year of our Lord 2024. The world often encourages us to prioritize thinking, analyzing, worrying, and purchasing. I like to believe this is because our bodies and intuition hold great power, and listening is an act of rebellion. If we ignore our internal values, needs, and callings, the world will make decisions for us. The world prefers to be in control, and stepping away from our consumer-driven mindset is a way to reclaim our health, happiness, and future. You have the power to define your values and find what is meaningful for you.

By being in tune with my body, intuition, and inner knowledge, I've discovered genuine self-care and nourishment. I've become more patient and kind, and my care extends beyond superficial treatments like face masks and bubble baths. By listening, I can better serve my own needs.

Notice & Absorb

Every time I consider slowing down, I remember the Ferris Bueller quote, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I’m tired of missing life's most beautiful moments. The small things are what make life meaningful, and in our pursuit of achievement and more, we often lose touch with the beauty, kindness, and inspiration that surrounds us. The small things are not fragile or insignificant, but they do require our attention.

By slowing down, choosing the scenic route, doing things manually, or simplifying, we create more room to experience and observe. Becoming an observer reignites your curiosity. You transition from a consumer mindset to that of an artist, shifting from "I want that" to "I wonder what about this appeals to me?" The world becomes a funnel through which you sift, finding what is most interesting, meaningful, and relatable to you.

Connection in a Digital Age

I remember a time when you had to send cards and letters, make calls from a landline, wait for weeks to receive a magazine, and be glued to a radio to listen to your favorite song. I feel nostalgic for the simplicity but also appreciate the convenience and accessibility of the internet. From Spotify to Google and becoming proficient in home maintenance due to YouTube, not to mention having a URL for my business, the internet has been invaluable.

However, social media still trips me up. I feel we've mistaken attention for genuine connection. We've gained access to this digital world and plugged in faster than we could process it. This isn't a judgment, but rather, as a solitary creature, I find survival in focusing more on human connections than on metrics. I seek to build trust, friendliness, and compassion rather than obsessing over data.

Though I want my business to thrive and appreciate social support, likes and analytics aren't my main focus. By engaging in a way that resonates with me, I can have meaningful conversations, share inside jokes with artists, and disconnect when necessary to be present in my life. My intentionality and preference for digital minimalism have helped me stay connected with humanity while plugged in.

Cultivate Compassion

When I first began listening to my own voice instead of suppressing it with busyness or rushing past discomfort, I realized how unfair I was to myself. Perhaps you're familiar with this—your inner critic. I received some help from an incredible hypnotherapist, and my inner critic was the hot topic for weeks. While I had the support of Maggie, I understood that to break critical patterns, I needed to stop absorbing negative self-talk and internalized unkindness.

At first, self-compassion seemed foreign. Being a skeptic, I dismissed the idea of "self-love," since it was used to promote diet culture and market shallow lifestyles. However, compassion is a choice. It's a decision to listen, accept, and change behavior. Previously, when my critic voiced her concerns, I felt helpless and would do anything to silence her. Now, when she speaks, I have the presence of mind to engage or implement changes. I want all roads to lead to a happy little life, so (minus some exceptions) I make the choices that lead me to more fun, more creativity, more peace, and freedom.

Failure Matters

In my self-compassion work, I defined failure in my own terms. Many business gurus talk about designing success, but rarely do they encourage reflection on mistakes, regrets, and failures. I chose to see failure simply as: not trying. This perspective allowed me to appreciate learning opportunities and find joy in "failure." I believe we don't celebrate “shitty first drafts” enough. Success isn't an isolated goal, it's the map you draw to your destination. The attempts, retries, and do-overs guide you on this course. You can't have one without the other. So the challenge isn't to achieve perfection, or even to do things well. The real challenge is to just do. It doesn't have to be fast or correct. In my slower-paced life, we love an "oops."

Become a Curator

I am, and always will be, a curator. I got my first job at the age of 15 because the shop owner, who became a lifelong mentor, appreciated my eye for detail and became an advocate for nurturing it. I began absorbing design, art, and inspiration, learning how to edit and eventually merchandise. Curation requires a certain decisiveness that can be lost in the rush to produce finished products. It’s a skill that needs to be nurtured with patience and kindness. This isn’t about avoiding impulsivity or mistakes, but rather about maintaining a clear vision of what you're curating. This holds true for homes, social feeds, food pantries, and media consumption.

In a world where so much is at our fingertips, it's essential to carefully tailor what we allow into our homes and lives. The true magic of curation lies in setting boundaries or parameters. For the shop, it's values; for my home, it's comfort; for my lifestyle, it's nourishment; and for media, it's inspiration. The slow-living life cultivates a focused eye on what is truly important.

Be Here Now

Throughout my life, there have been countless instances where my mind was somewhere else, not truly present in the moment. I've found myself merely nodding along during conversations without hearing a word. I've spent sleepless nights, consumed by my thoughts, ruminating over issues that were beyond my control. Similarly, I've allowed myself to get worked up over future situations that turned out to be minor inconveniences in the grand scheme of things. This is where the practice of slowing down has been incredibly beneficial. It serves as a reminder to consciously stay rooted in the 'here and now'. Choosing a slower pace has not only deepened my appreciation for the simplicity and beauty of daily life but has also helped me find satisfaction in the present moment and the process of doing things, rather than constantly striving for results.

The practice of slow living is not always easy, and it is not an overnight transformation. It takes continuous effort, patience, and a willingness to engage with our authentic selves. Yet, the rewards are immeasurable. It allows us to truly connect with ourselves and others, it cultivates a deeper understanding of our world, and it offers a sense of peace and contentment. It has truly been a gift to myself and one that I hope to share with others. The magic of mindfulness and the transformative power of a slower, more intentional lifestyle are waiting for anyone willing to experiment with their values, desires, and daily life.

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