The Spiritual Practice of Taking Your Time

—By Kristine Lawson

Woman laying in the grass peacefully with her eyes closed

Take it slow, and don't get in your way

keep it movin' at the pace of every weather

look within, and don't forget you are surrounded by the wind

as it rushes in your lungs

—Ayla Nereo

My relationship with time is shifting. I used to always feel like I was running out of time. I obsessed over using my time in the best possible way. I felt a frantic hum of most things moving way too fast while others moved way too slowly.

As I transitioned out of graduate school and into the rest of my life several years ago, it felt necessary to slow down. It felt like a way to care for myself, restore my sanity, and shift out of the institutional mindset that had, despite my best efforts, consumed me. I needed to slow down to recover from my addiction to work. Something had to give. I needed to slow down so I could feel what was calling me next.

At first, it felt wrong. I was even more anxious than before. Was I becoming lazy? Would opportunities pass me by? But I stuck with it. I made myself move slowly. I changed the pace of my walk. I scheduled fewer things. I added “do nothing” to my agenda.

I spent time just being quiet.

Just watching the world.

Sipping tea.


The wise women around me encouraged me in all this. They told me I was doing an important thing. At first, I didn’t believe them. When I doubted myself, I called them, visited with them, and listened to them.

Bear. Lori. Laura. Haylee. Darcy. Nancy. Other Nancy. Maudie. Maude. Shannon. Lesley. Ayla. Mary. Clarissa. Jamie. Robin. Paige. Luna.

Slowly, slowly, poquito a poquito, things began to shift.

Today, I work at a very fast-paced job, but I’m finding places here and there to take my time. I work with wise and wonderful people – colleagues and clients – and together, we talk about, strategize about, and enact the path of hustle balanced with taking our time. It’s no coincidence that the first project I was assigned to at Narratives Inc. is working for a community that upholds the customary Anishinaabe guiding principle of Bebekaa – take our time. Working with this community, my re-orientation to time has taken on new layers of meaning.

Taking my time and witnessing others take their time is a healing method. A way of soothing and mending the stress of trauma, of rushing, being rushed, being forced to operate on someone else’s timelines.

Taking our time is a decolonizing practice that unravels and subverts the efficiency models introduced and enforced by Western, capitalist, patriarchal systems and ways of shaping the world. Practicing Bebekaa is a remembrance of the language, practicing the language for my Anishinaabe colleagues while I am hearing and learning it for the first time. Together, we are practicing, remembering, and learning the Anishinaabemowin language and its power to help chart a different course for us all going forward.

Taking my time is a spiritual practice that allows me to hear the quiet voice that lives inside me. It allows me to find and keep balance – not always, but more often – in a world that is still very busy. This time-taking is a bridge between my heart and my loud mind.

Taking my time is, somehow, also an intellectual practice.

With a rebalanced relationship to time, I can better understand and logically prioritize when I need to go fast, which isn’t as often as I used to believe.

I am learning new lessons about time. Whether through hearing new words such as Bebekaa or the cosmic intervention of things “going wrong” or “running behind…” Sometimes, the lesson comes as the gift of a slow ramble through the neighbourhood with my dog, who just doesn’t want to walk fast anymore.

Or contemplating the lifecycle of the mountains. Seasons changing. The cycles of the moon.

Timeframes that are beyond humanity but also intricately interwoven with it are some of my new teachers. There are many around me who continue to teach me how to take my time, and I send thanks to each of you.

I am not created or re-created by the noise and clatter of my life, by the rush and scurry, the relentless chase or the presumption that more gets more. No, I am created and re-created by moments of stillness and quiet.

—Richard Wagamese

Kristine Lawson, Project Director | Senior Researcher

Editor’s Note: This blog was edited for clarity.