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Are you hopping from one thing to the next, lacking the luxury of slowing down, gathering your thoughts and putting your feet up for a moment?

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Jason ChaneyForgive me if what you are reading seems a bit rushed.

I gotta hurry up and get this done and get started on something else. When I'm done with that, I need to swing by the store and pick up a few things – and I should probably grab a bite to eat … we'll see if I have enough time. There's that 3 o'clock back at the office.

Sound familiar? Is this your speed, hopping from one thing to the next, lacking the luxury of slowing down, gathering your thoughts and putting your feet up for a moment? I know I can relate – after all, my job is governed by deadlines, and to a certain extent, the same could be said for life at home.

Maybe it's the obsessively time-conscious aspect of my personality at play, but I have my morning routine dialed. I know, after the alarm sounds, how long it takes to shower, then eat, feed pets, feed kids and make sure those kids are ready to drop off at school – which usually takes several attempts, by the way, but I have that worked into the schedule as well. How long does it take to get from my driveway to the office parking lot? I have a pretty good idea.

Many of us, it seems, are in a rush. Jobs, kids, bills, meetings – it's all a daily swirling circus that often veers off schedule despite our most valiant attempts. Why else would the fast-food industry exist … or express lines at the grocery store? What about microwavable meals, fast-acting meds, and even acronyms that shorten the already-brief phrases in our lives (LOL) – all of it helps us cram as much as possible into the few hours we spend awake each day.

And you know what is really frustrating? When it's time to finally call it a day, crawl under the covers, turn out the lights and retreat from this daylong dash, your brain won't let you. Who among us has laid in bed either rehashing the events of the day or plotting the schedule for tomorrow? Ever lay there while a song repeats in your head, or perhaps a scene from a recently watched movie or TV show? Or perhaps this is the time when your neurons take you on some weird tangent – "I'll bet it's really easy for elephants to smell their feet …"

Living so fast can't be good, right? I have watched small dogs that are always in a rush, and they are the ones you see sliding into the wall while trying to corner on a hardwood floor. When hamsters get overly zealous in their hamster wheels, that wheel sometimes takes them on a dizzying ride. Ever try to talk too fast and end up sounding like you slipped into some East European language for half a sentence?

I'm beginning to realize, lately, that the snails, sloths and turtles of the world are doing this living thing right. Laid back … one slow step at a time … admiring the clouds … smelling the flowers. Sounds nice – and it's not like you won't get things done … I mean Aesop famously pointed out in "The Tortoise and the Hare" that slow and steady wins the race.

I have recently discovered some programs on Netflix that essentially teach people the longstanding skill of meditation. And my curiosity eventually got the better of me and I checked out a few episodes – and it was an eye-opener. I was instructed to get comfortable, to close my eyes, to take a break from my steady current of racing thoughts and tune in to my own breathing.

It should be easy – to just hit pause for a few minutes – but oddly enough, it wasn't so simple. My mind drifted from one task to another meeting to what I might want for dinner – my brain still trying desperately to schedule the next few hours.

But I stuck with it – and darn near fell asleep in my recliner. Slowing down was awesome, refreshing and reinvigorating. Those turtles are really on to something (maybe I should get myself a shell, see if I like it).

So, I encourage all of you reading this to embrace a slow pace. Drive a few miles per hour under the speed limit, stop and smell the roses or spend a few minutes testing your couch cushions. You might like the results.

Anyway, gotta hurry up and finish this thing. I'm on deadline.


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