“The times are urgent; let us slow down.”
~Dr. Bayo Akomolafe
In 2004, two scientists, Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain published their research about the extraordinary number of centenarians (people who live to be over 100) in Sardinia, Italy. They drew a circle around the areas with a high number of elders and call them “blue zones.”
Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and multiple New York Times bestselling author, expanded this work and discovered five places in the world – dubbed blue zones – where people live the longest, and are healthiest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California. Buettner’s work can be found on his website here.
One of the lessons from the blue zones about living a long life is to slow down; not only resting, but taking time to be in relationships, listen deeply, sit in silence, walk in nature. In this article, Buettner outlines 8 ways to slow down.
One of the blue zone lessons for slowing down is to “feel beholden to community.” By this, Buettner means that focusing on making our community a better place can help us distance ourselves from the lengthy list of problems we face in our individual lives. The list never seems to get smaller no matter how many problems we solve; there are always more. A focus on community helps us step back and take a longer, larger view.
A related blue zone lesson for slowing down is to practice a religion or have spiritual life. Religion and spirituality invite us to consider that there is something beyond our individual selves and to contemplate our time on this Earth, our mortality. (Sara Lewis will be inviting us into reflection on life and death in Sunday’s service. Join us here.)
These are important purposes of a faith community: to help us wrestle with the big questions of life and death, and to invite us into building community for a better world. A world that is loving, just and healthy.
This week, I invite you to slow down in some way. Yes, times are urgent, and we must slow down to take care of ourselves and each other.
Blessings on your week.