George Andersen

Philosophical Counselor

Archive for the 'Slow Living' Category

31 October
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On silence

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Silence helps us direct our attention inside. It seems easy to understand but there are nuances in this concept. There are various types of silence and we can choose a working definition when reflecting on it. The silence I think about is one that combines physical silence with the mental one. Even the most quiet places on earth are not void of sound but that does not mean they are not silent.

For most of us, silence includes to some extent the existence of sounds of quality, which I conceive of as non-intrusive sounds, like wind, or gentle bird singing, some kind of gently flowing water, or a soothing rhythm. In a strictly physical sense, we can get as close as possible to complete absence of sound in specially built chambers but even there we might still hear the sound produced by the beats of our own heart.

The other, more subtle side, is the mental silence, which is even more important to explore. It is the silence we experience when we suspend thoughts expressed internally with words, or images. To get there, we must work through the mental noise, which might appear as amplified by the silence of the outside, in order to get to the second, more profound silence of simply being.

20 December

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity

When we interact with other people, are we present? Do we let people touch us with their presence? Are we paying attention to the interaction?

Often, we think about what we want to say to our interlocutors, without taking in what they are saying. Sometimes, we are physically there and mentally somewhere else; no wonder miscommunication occurs.

The attention we give others is a form of generosity and respect, as it is when we direct it towards ourselves. When we are attentive to our thoughts and feelings, we learn about ourselves, which helps us improve ourselves.

Paying attention requires taking the time to open up and meaningfully receive.

21 January

Let’s find the right speed

As children, we feel that time passes slowly. As adults, we try to keep up with the demands on our schedule. Why are we running through life?  Here are some of the reasons that come up after a brief reflection:

  • we attend to tasks we need to accomplish
  • we feel that we need to make the most of the time we have
  • we believe that the more we do the better it is for us and our dear ones
  • we work more
  • we need to be busy for various reasons
  • we do not have the time to think about what we do
  • we do things because others do them too
  • we think that we have to do more than others to succeed

These reasons and many others are behind the rush that permeates our different roles in society (human beings, citizens, employees, parents, spouses, etc.). When is it good to be on the run and when is it not?

The “right” answer is different for each of us; each of us have their own ways of being in this world. As Carl Honore suggests in his book “In Praise of Slow”, the idea is to live at a pace that is conducive to a healthy and happy life. It is up to us to define what such a life means and then adjust accordingly: neither too fast, nor too slow but at the right speed for each situation.

Let’s find the right speed.