Slow Down to Fall in Love Again

By Leo Babauta

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Recently I got a running watch, and have been keeping most of my runs below a certain heart rate, to build up my heart’s aerobic fitness with lots of slow running.

The pace of my runs has been incredibly slow for the last month.

It’s helped me to fall in love with running again.

I’ll share more about that, but it has me wanting to share a more general thought: slowing down can have us falling in love with anything if we let it.

Let me share a few examples:

Of course, the same idea can be applied to anything, not just these examples. Reading, exercise, relationships, drinking tea, a bedtime ritual. Let me return to the topic of falling in love with running again, before I talk about the way to slow down in order to fall in love all over again.

How Slowing Down Helped Me Fall in Love with Running Again

I read a bunch of articles (and a book called 80/20 Running) that inspired me to slow my running pace down to an easy breezy conversational pace. Running slowed way down, but that allowed me to run longer (in distance and in time) and not feel very tired or risk injury. I started running almost every day.

These longer, slower runs became a place to reconnect to myself. Sometimes I load up an audiobook or listen to an album. Other times I just enjoy the outdoors going by at a slower pace.

The biggest surprise is how much I started to look forward to my daily runs! Instead of this hard, tiring workout that I would have to “overcome” … it became a place of peace and play. Running slower comes with its own challenges (I often feel I’m going too slow), but it came with unexpected joys.

After a couple of weeks of this, I realized that I had fallen in love with running again, for the first time in a decade.

The Way of Slowing Down to Re-Fall in Love

So how can we apply this not only to running, but to anything that we’re not excited about anymore?

The Way of Slowing Down starts with simply setting an intention to slow down. I did this with running, because I was convinced of its benefits. If you think there’s a beautiful possibility available to you if you slow down with a particular activity, set the intention.

Then find a way to remember. For running, I had the running watch to give me feedback if I was going too fast. For eating, it helps to put technology away and only have the food in front of you. Same thing for reading, writing, or drinking a cup of tea.

Next, find a way to savor the deliciousness of the activity. What is there to love about the experience? What joys can you discover, if you keep your mind and heart open? Can you allow yourself to relish in it?

Finally, I love having a sense of anticipation. It’s the feeling of “I can’t wait to be with my lover again!” It’s the sweetness of looking forward to play, joy, pleasure, spaciousness. Always leave the activity with a little longing — don’t exhaust your desire. This way, the next time you are about to do the activity, you’ll feel a lift in your heart.

What would you like to fall in love with again?

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
~ Winnie the Pooh

p.s. if you’re interested in practicing slowing down with me, join me in my London retreat in April: the Practice of Slowing Down.