I spent this weekend, coincidentally Slow Art Day in New York, on the other side of the Atlantic on the Isle of Wight in the UK, for a Mindfulness course. Since reading New Slow City, in which William Powers decides to live ‘slow’ in New York, I’ve been interested in the concept of mindfulness, so I jumped at the chance to attend a weekend course with my sister for her birthday treat. To complement my work at MESH, an agency specialising in ‘real-time’ market research with a team reputation of never stopping, it was time for me to experience the benefits of ‘slow’.
The Grange in Shanklin, with its gardens leading to the coast, was a wonderful relaxing backdrop for a course of this kind. We arrived a day early, which was lucky because we were able to indulge in a bit of ‘fast’ living first to get acclimatised – a massive clotted cream tea, Grease the Musical at the Shanklin Theatre, a walk down the spectacular Chine to the beach and some serious crazy golf competition on no less than 3 18-hole courses!
By the time the course started, I was ready for a rest.
So, what am I taking away from this weekend?
The here and now. I had always liked the concept centred around living in the moment that I had picked up from yoga practice, but this course explained how I could be in the ‘then and there’ and the ‘here and now’ and what this actually meant. The ‘there and now’ appears to me to be a growing state. Think about all those friends sitting round a table enjoying a meal, yet actively engaging with other friends on social media. They are ‘there’ and not ‘here’.
I liked the psychology models presented in the course and I was fascinated by the difference between Western and Eastern psychology. In the West, we drill down from observing non-communicated thoughts and feelings to attitudes, beliefs and decisions (where trauma is often associated) to get down to the Core Self. In the East, it’s straight to the Core Self to view all those decisions, traumas, beliefs and thoughts with a perspective. And how do you get straight down to the Core Self to strengthen it? Well, one technique is through mindful meditation. We were given the same exercise that all 5-year-old children in Thailand would have mastered already – focussing on our breathing for 5 minutes.
We learned about mindful activities, such as eating an orange segment slowly and carefully and scanning our bodies for aches, pains and signs of stress and then trusting our bodies and the movements they wanted to make to help to make us feel better. It was at this point that I realised I’d had one too many cream teas and was pleased with my decision to exercise more restraint at dinner time.
Mindfulness is a tool to be used as you wish. Clearing the mind for 5 minutes may open up new options for decision-making, making decisions better and faster.
In an increasingly real-time, data-driven industry, what would ‘slow market research’ look like? I hypothesise that the insights would be deeper, work would be calmer and the output would actually be faster and more easily digestible.
Why not try a ‘Slow Market Research Day?’