What is Meant by ‘Slow’?

‘Slow’ is much more than simply ‘a slow pace’ or a measure of how much activity is conducted vs time. Slow is a meme that encompasses various expressions of the adaptive response to our addiction to speed that has cemented itself in modern culture. This reaction is an adaptive response to the deleterious effects of Fast culture. This wordcloud is displays all the stuff I’ve found so far that has been pre-fixed with ‘Slow.’ There is definitely something happening at the level of cultural dynamics.

Memes are like packets carrying cultural ideas, symbols and practices that are transmitted from one person to another as part of the dynamics of cultural change. Within the Slow ‘packet’ there is a fascinating, rich, and I believe, fundamental wisdom.

When attempting to define Slow, we can look at how it has been used so far. We saw the first verbalisation of the Slow meme with Slow Food. The Slow Food movement arose as a reaction to Fast Food and the impact Fast Food was having on the environment, biodiversity, local traditions, local economies and the social impact on food producers and consumers. The founders of Slow Food sought to highlight all that is to be treasured about producing, preparing and sharing food in a way that nurtures the land and connections between people and celebrates diversity of cultures and species.

I think we can safely say that the Slow Movement has pinpointed the following statements (not a definitive list) about Slow. Slow:

  • is not about going at a slow pace all the time; it is about finding the right speed to suit the situation
  • seeks to rescue the wisdom we forego with our obsession for immediacy
  • is about quality over quantity; doing less things but doing them well, rather than many things hurriedly
  • enables us to see and take joy in the small things, in the richness that we all too often miss when we’re going fast
  • builds strong connections between people; enhances social capital
  • promotes sustainability by promoting a decrease in the rate of consumption and being more aware of internal and external impacts

At the heart of Slow I truly believe are ideas and values that have the potential to heal some serious issues of our times. I am excited that with this project I am able to contribute to the unearthing of a Slow conceptual framework. I suspect our understanding of what Slow is has some refinement to be done and I feel we may be missing some of the transformational power of the meme without it. Some ideas, informed by positive psychology and neuroscience, about what may be ingredients in a conceptual framework of Slow include:

  • presence and mindfulness are the foundation – awareness is required to judge what the ‘right speed’ actually is and then supports implementation of changes we want to make (it takes mindfulness to break out of habitual patterns)
  • ‘Slow in space’ – presence is like being slow in space rather than slow in time
  • rhythms and cycles – inform what the right speed is and allowing synchrony with natural rhythms can make finding Slow less effortful
  • dynamic balance between the extremes of frozen and fast
  • relationship between Slow and depth; by going Slow we can go deep to the core of ourselves and situations
  • connection via resonance, coherence and synchronicity; less priority placed on the ego
  • a finessed use of consciousness; our deliberate, intentional Slow Thinking system

These two sets of ideas are my starting point for my investigations into Slow. I will be presenting more in-depth material on these concepts as the project progress, but I hope this has communicated just what an incredibly rich and potent concept Slow is.

**I know some of these concepts may seem a little abstract for now, but fear not. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate how these play out in everyday life and explain how to implement these concepts.


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