Slow food, slow journalism, slow photography … Just when the world seemed to be getting faster and faster, some folks decided to cool things down.
The Italians were the first to put on the brakes when a protest against the opening of a (fast food) McDonald's in Rome, in 1986, morphed into the Slow Food movement. Despite its name, the aim isn't about intentionally procrastinating or using only slow cookers. It's more about doing things at the right pace, favoring quality over quantity.
Since then, the deceleration trend has spread quickly, touching on everything from traveling to money, technology and education. The past few years have seen the development of even more surprising slow concepts. Here are five that caught our eye:
While some people turn to botox or cosmetic surgery to hide the effects of aging, others are focusing on ways to "slow" the process, to age more successfully with the help of healthy diets, hygiene, sleep, exercise, environments and social activity.
Tobacco, alcohol and drugs are, of course, big no-no's. But other requirements such as reducing the intake of calories by 30%, balanced by a personalized diet that provides the right amounts of proteins, vitamins and minerals, could extend the average life by about 25 years, as The Telegraph reported.
Others methods for a long life include helping and being kind to others. Charitable behavior, according to the BBC, results in endorphin releases that decrease stress and reinforce the immune system. Brain exercises through meditation are also advised to prevent age-related mental diseases. Other studies have found that simply being happy and optimistic can improve one's health and lifespan. In that case, perhaps the real secret to long life is to watch YouTube's 2 million cat videos.
Watching this video could make you live longer.
The Cittaslow ("slow city") movement, like slow food, originates from Italy. It was founded in 1999 by Paolo Saturnini, the former mayor of the small town of Greve in Chianti, in Tuscany. The organization, now present in nearly 200 (mostly small) towns across 30 countries, aims to rethink the way we conceive, build and move around in urban spaces.
The Huffington Post explains that if a city wants to join the movement, it must correspond to 55 criteria, divided into six parts: environmental policy, infrastructure, quality of public space, encouragement of local products, hospitality and slow city awareness among residents.
As The Boston Globe explained in May, slow parenting loosely means "no more rushing around physically and metaphorically, no more racing kids from soccer to violin to art class. Slow parenting cherishes quality over quantity, being in the moment, and making meaningful connections with your family."
The movement, in other words, is about practicing mindfulness together as a family.
The concept is already a few years old. Back in 2009, the British author Carl Honoré said in an interview with The New York Times that slow parenting was "about bringing balance into the home." To do so, slow parents advocate interactive activities. This means playing with toys, board games or just running around outdoors — basically what children used to do in the good old days.
Slow parenting — Photo: Jamel Toppin/Mint Images/ZUMA
Gardening might not seem like the most frantic activity in the first place, but some green-thumbed individuals think horticulture should be slower still. Born in the U.S. shortly after the slow food movement, slow gardening is, as its name might suggest, about being patient with plants, trees, vegetables and lawns.
Slow gardeners think yardwork should be pleasurable, not just a chore people are obliged to get through, as The Cambrian reports. Other fancy horticulture concepts include permaculture, artistic landscaping, urban, community, square-foot or edible gardening.
An urban garden in Chicago — Photo: Antonio Perez/TNS/ZUMA
The slow sex movement is basically the final form of the Western world meeting tantrism. The concept consists in leaving aside bestial urges, and instead "putting the emphasis on rediscovering desire by playing with one's senses and sensations," as Canoe explains. In other words, no more quickies.
Slow sex enthusiasts often engage in creating a cozy, gentle atmosphere, simply watching each other for several minutes, massaging each other and talking during and after the act. As Grazia reports, "sophrological stripteases," or the art of taking one's clothes off while meditating, can also help.
Such approaches to physical relations have been around for centuries in other cultures, especially in the Hindu Tantric beliefs. But in the West, it became a real concept when the South African author Diana Richardson's published her book Slow Sex: The Path to Fulfilling and Sustainable Sexuality, in 2011. It seems the Western world finally discovered that with physical relations — as is the case with gardening, aging and eating — there's just no need to rush.
Photo: Henry Arden/Mint Images/ZUMA