Slow Living Resolutions with Johanna Ljunggren
We ask our friend Johanna to keep our slow living resolutions going with some inspiration below on how she lives consciously and purposefully! With everything from growing her own food to setting intentions this is a timeless interview on living more in harmony with nature.
“At this moment in my life, with all that is happening in the world, I need fewer mantras, card decks and crystals. I want to rediscover nature in the modern world. Making my spiritual practice part of my sustainability research has given me a new purpose.”
First of all, can you tell us about your goals for the New Year when it comes to living a slower lifestyle?
I’m not one for goals. Rather, I like to set intentions.
1.Planting a seed (pun intended) to let my garden grow this year. 2021 was my first year of gardening. This year, I’m more confident to try new vegetables and to expand the herbal and flower patch. Everything we harvested last year was either eaten or used as herbal remedies, and this year I hope to become more self-sufficient with the herbs and flowers I use.
2.My personal life has been easier to manage since the outbreak of Covid, with fewer choices and more living. However, it seems ad hoc has become the new norm at work. I am all for an innovative binge once in a while. That can be stimulating. But to have it on the schedule every day strains the nervous system and hinders creativity. Meeting free days to focus on what needs to be done, following through without interruption. Entrepreneur and founder of My Cermonia Babba Canales shared a story on IG about her practising of not being available 24/7. We can’t control some situations, but you can always say no.
3.Writing and reading more. I have been working on the next issue of Sauvage, the magazine I released 6 years ago. I want to get it out of my system and my headspace and onto paper. This will take some planning and time.
4. I’m also focusing more on my work with Alexander Franzen at Carbon Calories. We’ve just opened our waitlist for SMEs to get early bird access when we launch. (Connect SMEs/startups (“Early Birds”) with Carbon Calories to join our Waitlist.)
Do you think moving more slowly and copiously can help in our collective efforts to combat the climate crisis?
Part of our lives needs to slow down, like our addiction to consumption and production of non-vital products. We can also take a break when it comes to social media and media.
It’s about re-directing our energy to where it’s needed. We still need to act on many levels and can’t grow passive. That’s not what slow-living suggests, it is about channeling awareness.
We know you were a yoga teacher for many years – how have you found this helpful in managing stress?
In the first 15 years, my yoga practice and teaching were very goal and profession-driven.
Wellness became an industry. Remember when I started my spiritual journey 23 years ago, smartphones didn’t exist. Nowadays, social media pushes us to believe that we need multiple products to embark on our practice and awakening. Self-care can quickly become ego care.
The moments I have had my most profound spiritual connections or moments of stillness have been when I was sitting in nature, or as a contrast, at home in the mornings with my husband hurrying about in the kitchen. The juicer making noise with the BBC playing somewhere in the background. All that noise could make me irritated, but instead, I use it to watch the comings and goings of sound. The sound that sprouts from a more spacious silence around us. I’ve scaled down. At this moment in my life, with all that is happening in the world, I need fewer mantras, card decks and crystals. I want to rediscover nature in the modern world. Making my spiritual practice part of my sustainability research has given me a new purpose.
Sowing our garden with herbs and plants, harvesting and then weaving them into my crafts. Binding smudges, food creating, or making herbal remedies bring my head and mind-stuff into the heart region. From there, I channel it out into my hands, and it relieves me from stress, trauma and anxiety. It restores what is already there.
Can yoga also help you feel more empowered and energetic in the actions you do want to take?
Yes, as you can see in my answer before, haha. It is empowering to reclaim our lost instincts during this era of humanity. We have been focusing on the “modern” urban lifestyles and lost our ability to care for ourselves and the environment. Yoga doesn’t have to be the physical practice we associate with today – it is so much more.
What are some of your favourite yoga poses for every day?
For the past 10 years, I have practised Bikram and Ashtanga yoga for heat. I focus on the lymphatic system with fascia flossing for my everyday sequences. Movements that create friction and stimulate the flow of lymph fluid. It is incredible what a difference it makes. It is like connecting to the inner tide of my body. Ebb, flows and the sticky, stagnant parts. The form of the pose isn’t as important, as in regular yoga. It’s about opening up the mind’s eye in tissue, your organs and using resistance and not momentum when moving. I pair this with weight lifting vinyasa and pilates.
“Child labour is common when mining for crystals and minerals. I jokingly call crystals the blood diamonds for yogis.”
And what about meditation? How do you use that to help with your work and lifestyle?
I enjoy the simplicity of zen meditation and scent rituals using essential oils, sometimes fire and smoke. Like I wrote above, after working in the beauty and fashion industry for many years, I’ve learnt how hard it is to source crystals and tokens like palo santo responsibly. Child labour is common when mining for crystals and minerals. I jokingly call crystals the blood diamonds for yogis. Instead I make my own ritual elements, which has made it more sustainable.
Do you have any tips on how to start a meditation practice for those beginning?
If you have a hard time concentrating, I recommend using an app when you start, just to get the hang of it. I use Insight Timer or The Mindfulness app when I need extra guidance. I like Seiso Paul Cooper, an Ordained Soto priest, teacher and leader. Or, Pema Chödröns courses that combine traditional and personal insight that resonates with the slow down culture we are trying to uncover.
That and a little practice every day or every other day keeps on giving all the way instead of a lot once in a while or every other month. Remember that the brain manages everything in our body, movement, functions, and sensations. So releasing stress through physical activity and breathing exercises calms the nervous system. A calmer mind for overall wellbeing.
We know that spirituality can be a huge help in figuring out our purpose in the world – how do you approach your spiritual self?
I read, listen to music, cook, study and try to be creative without feeling the need to be productive. This is the fun part, but.
I also need to sit with my shadow sides in meditation and let them be who they are.
You can ́t escape your demons by diving into something without trying to locate where you feel discomfort. I believe many of us are experiencing anxiety of some sort these days.
The results will be the same both for you and your surroundings, fragmentation and loss of connection. When we ́are born into this world, we are unbroken puzzles. As humans, we need to understand how to survive, and in doing so, we break the puzzle. We learn to taste, smell, see, crawl, walk, love and hate. We separate nature, individuality and society.
Flash forward a quarter of a lifetime, and we ́ve learnt plenty but also lost the bond of being born complete.
We ́ve become fragmented, and it ́s now time to put the pieces back together to experience that wholeness again. Some things might be lost forever, and you are a different version of yourself. To find a method to help you figure out the “puzzle” is just as important as all that learning we do. I did my uncovering with yoga, I had to do multiple wrongs before I arrived at where I am today. And I will continue to do so for the rest of my life.
Can you tell us a bit about your morning routine when moving slowly?
My husband and I wake at 5 am, have coffee and read in bed until 7. I have a shower and do my face ritual. I am lucky to have access to great products, so I try to enjoy this part of the day and not hurry through it. Dry brushing body and face, maybe some face lifting massage.
Then I do 40-60 minutes of meditation combined with physical movement of some sort. Depending on the time, the practice can be longer or shorter. Then I have a juice or smoothie and start my working day.
And a bit about your evening routine when moving slowly?
We make time to cook each meal, especially dinner. Talk about the daily happenings, connect, check each other’s state of mind. Depending on my mood, the evening face ritual can be face steam with herbs or washing off the day and applying products of choice. In bed by 8 pm, we read or watch a movie until the lights go out.
How do you keep your practices going when you get busy?
Honestly, like I said, Covid has helped me be consistent with my practice. It is pretty much the same when busy. I have activated focus time on my phone, turning off notifications when I need to focus. It is probably the best service my phone has 🙂
As we enter 2022 with a hope that people will begin to embrace slower ways of living, can you give us all one tip for how to embrace a slower style of life?
A classic quote but here goes, less is definitely more.
Words from Johanna Ljunggren @detoxlife