Praise Of Slowness

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Hong Kong with an area of 1,104 km2 (like Rhode Island) and with a population of seven million people is the city with the highest population density in the world. The territory consists of Hong Kong Island (in red on the map), Kowloon Peninsula,  New Territories,  Lantau Island and  261 other islands located offshore. The City that you know, the one with the skyscrapers, the buildings on top of each other, the street markets and the super mega shopping malls is the green band on the north of the Hong Kong Island. 10.5 miles in all, 25 minutes by taxi without traffic, 17 MTR stops. Almost all the seven million inhabitants taking to this green belt every day to work, shop, go to school, in short, whatever they do, they will do it here.

Hong Kong is an extremely expensive city. The rents are very high for microscopic homes, shopping at the supermarket is like buying a trilogy of Damiani that does not last forever but must be regained weekly. A lot of people cannot afford to rent a normal home, even if small, so they end up living in what have been happily nicknamed the coffin cubicles.

You can see that living in fast and dynamic Hong Kong is incredibly stressful.

Just try to take the MTR at six in the evening is enough to understand that slowness does not live here.

Though it is in the slowness that life happens.

I would like to be like Neo in the movie Matrix, be able to slow down, extend, stretch the reality to look at it from the appropriate angle, lock it and have enough time to place the pieces in the right place, like a huge and tangled monochromatic blue puzzle. The pieces seem all the same but the sea is not the sky and the sky is not the boat and the boat is not the house and the house is not the dress of the girl who runs in the sea. Every blue has its place, its nuance. If each piece fits into the right place then you can enjoy the whole, the beauty of things done and said, the puzzle makes sense, life as well.

From the slowness the illuminations arrive and the brilliant ideas take shape. Empathy is born from slowness. But be careful, as Lamberto Maffei says:

  “Slow thinking is a heavy thought to drag, which carries with it the burden of memory and the weight of doubts and uncertainties of reasoning”.

For many people the heaviness of slow thinking and deep thoughts is unsustainable, better to run, to kill himself with to do lists, keep the television always on as if it were an aquarium to confuse and silence what we have inside. Racing senseless, afraid to change, after all I’m fine, chaos instead of silence.

Even for me sometimes the slowness isn’t easy, after all I am a Milanese/Honkongers, I run all day I let myself be minced by the blender blades, losing my way. But I do not want to lose myself, when you get lost you always find yourself in the woods and in the woods there are monsters, bad wolves and evil clowns. So when I realize I’ve lost my way, I take out my tricks to “slow down” that like the crumbs of Hansel and Gretel to take me back home. Try them once, they work great. If you have any of your own, tell them in the comments as I want to try new ones!

I take the tram instead of MTR. The tram is like an old, clumsy turtle, it’s  S L O W. A narrow and tall colored tin box, with no glass on the windows, with wooden benches and a hypnotic ringing noise that I find extremely relaxing. Its proceeding with swinging shots like the self-dangling of depressive maniacs people, a huge self-hug. I do not want to sit in front of the wall and move obsessively the head back and forth so, I take the tram. It works out very well to me and I don’t need the straitjacket yet! Try it!

I chew. I know it sounds absurd, but think about how many times you swallow the food without chewing it. I do it often, especially when I have lunch alone. I hurry up for do other things and I realize my heart beats are too high, my breathing heavy and I feel agitated. So I have to chew slowly, ten, twenty, a hundred times, slow down the mandibular gymnastics accelerating the digestion, which also works better by freeing me from the reflux, belly heaviness, drowsiness, but I always forget to chew.

I choose yoga classes cleverly. The power yoga lesson is a burst of energy, you end up all sweaty with swollen biceps, aching quadriceps and a marble butt. But nothing is comparable to an hour of Yin Yoga where you have to hold the same pose for five minutes and let go of everything that holds you inside to be able to free the body and not feel more pain but relief. Or an hour of slow Hatha Yoga, with breathing exercises, hold your breath and then release it, focus on the stillness of your body and mind, do not follow your thoughts but make room for them in silence. However, always remember that let it go is the new fuck you.

Walk in a circle. I know I know you start thinking I’m weird. In fact I am. But try it. Choose a round or oval path, like athletics track, paths around the lake, neighborhoods. Everythings will work well as long as  you are able to pass go at least three or four times. It is called “walking meditation”. The pace must be slow and always at the same speed, no earphones and music, focus on external noises and then try to remove them, one by one until you focus only on the body that moves, always the same, always in the same way, always on the same path.

I shoot the free throws. Only basketball players understand this. Mind you, it’s not going to take two shots at the playground. Only free throws. Always the same movement repeated endlessly, built during practice, always the same routines so you can repeat it in the game, when the pressure is high and when you start shitting in your underwear. At this point you have to enter in the loop movement. For me, I look at my feet, hip distance apart, my right slightly forward from my left. Three dribble between my feet, stopping the ball after every bounce. Then I place the ball in my hands, the black ribs horizontal, the brand name towards the hoop. Now I look up, the ball resting on my chest, I inhale oxygen and exhale tension. I hold my breath and shoot the ball, a flow movement, my hand whips the air, the ball speed. Choof. I breathe. Repeat. Again, again and again.

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