Seeking Slow: Book Review (And Why It’s A Must-Read)
Seeking Slow is a well-rounded guide to slow living – whether you’re getting started or just need some inspiration. Here is my Seeking Slow book review.
All photos courtesy of Melanie Barnes.
You want a slower and simpler life as an anecdote to the multi-tasking and busyness of today.
But to actually infuse those values into your everyday routine is a different story.
In her new book Seeking Slow, Melanie Barnes argues that it’s not about having loads of free time. It’s about setting priorities so the less important things don’t end up taking over. And it’s about making space for what matters most.
Seeking Slow offers a holistic approach to slow living that looks at everything from travel to shopping to leisure. Because it all adds up to an intentional life – or a life filled with anxiety and overwhelm.
Geoffrey and Grace
Barnes is the writer and photographer behind the blog Geoffrey and Grace. Her beautiful photos have long inspired readers to appreciate slow moments and daily pleasures.
Though Barnes also has 15 years of experience in well-being. She’s a trained yogi, meditation teacher and massage therapist. And this background makes her book a practical and realistic look at slow living that’s rooted in experience.
Barnes began to explore slow living after the birth of her daughter. She realised as her daughter was growing up that time – and her daughter’s childhood – passes so quickly. And she didn’t want to miss out.
What is slow living?
Slow living means being present in the moment, appreciating the little things and taking time to enjoy life, Barnes says.
In our modern age, you come up against the glorification of busy, materialism, consumerism and constant online connectivity. So you must re-evaluate your values if you want a slower life.
“By altering our definition of success, we will naturally slow down the pace of our days,” Barnes writes. “By being realistic about what it means to be busy and by learning to relish the small, simple pleasures along the way, we can all find more meaning and joy in our lives.”
Understanding the darker forces brings an awareness that helps change your mindset, Barnes says.
Tracing the consumer culture back to the 1920s advent of PR makes you realise that consumerism is a recent innovation. It’s not a universal law you’ve always lived by – and you don’t have to, either.
“Having an awareness of the industry and how we are marketed to gives us the understanding to make more conscious choices,” Barnes writes.
Seeking Slow book review
There’s section to digital detox and simple strategies to ensure that Internet time doesn’t take over your life – and that you have space for wholehearted moments.
“We must not underestimate how being intentional with our time is instrumental in slowing down,” Barnes writes.
Seeking Slow offers tips on working smarter to be more efficient and reduce stress. From focusing on what’s important and resisting the trap of multitasking, to defining your priorities and batching similar tasks together.
A section on self-care looks at the guilt you feel about taking time for yourself. Barnes suggests you redefine what’s essential and look at ways of slowing down from gardening to enjoying an unhurried cup of tea.
Barnes also looks at the importance of self-compassion in slow living. She says self-compassion isn’t often valued in Western societies and it’s seen as weak. You feel you must be hard on yourself to stay motivated and that you have to be tough to succeed. Self-compassion can be regarded as indulgence or laziness.
Barnes makes a convincing case for how the opposite is true. Self-compassion actually makes you happier and more motivated. She suggests asking yourself: “What do I need?” and then treating yourself like you’d treat a dear friend.
Factors in slow living
Seeking Slow also looks at the importance of boredom and making space for inspirational ideas that come when you’re uninterrupted by notifications.
There’s also a chapter on the body – an essential part in slow living that doesn’t often get much attention.
Barnes stresses the importance of listening to your body and how it tells you what you need. The benefits include better health, increased intuition and a better understanding of stress. This self-awareness leads to greater happiness and confidence.
A section on home looks at how your surroundings impact your well-being, and lists ways to make your home more comfortable by getting rid of clutter.
Barnes lists activities for each season with lots of ideas for kids like making beach mosaics from seashells in the summer or garlands of popcorn or orange slices for Christmas. Many of these activities will get you out into nature to experience its calming effects.
Seeking Slow also includes tips on meditation to make you more thoughtful, focused and calm.
“Meditation allows us the space to return to a neutral mind, helping us to not become fixated on or attached to negative thoughts and emotions,” Barnes writes. “Learning to be present in the moment helps when challenging situations arise; we find that we don’t have an emotional knee-jerk reaction but are able to take a moment to mindfully react, so generally we are able to remain calm and act with more compassion.”
With its well-rounded approach to slow living, Seeking Slow is an inspiring read with beautiful photos. But it’s also a practical guide to slowing down and not letting the years pass you by.