Observe a small child at play, and you will see the epitome of patience. A three-year-old can sit for 30 minutes just looking at the twigs and stones on his porch. He picks one up, he puts it down. He picks another one up, examines it carefully, and puts it down. He repeats the exercise endlessly, seemingly never tiring of it.

But what about his mom? Running, rushing, doing, thinking, planning—the woman is forever on the go. She multi-tasks, runs a home, works a job, participates in community activities and events, nurtures her marriage, raises her children, connects with friends and relatives—why, she may evenHer motors are constantly revved up maintain a hobby or two! Even on Shabbat, her day of “rest,” she’s typically on the go—entertaining, davening, taking care of the kids. Her motors are constantly revved up. If she has a baby, she is on a 24/7 shift, and if she doesn’t, her mind is on high-alert nonetheless. Toddlers want nighttime attention too and, with a schedule like hers, she may not even “book in” more than a few hours of sleep, even when no one will disturb her. Productive, she is, but healthy—not so much.


Women do not necessarily choose their busy schedules. Sure, there are some go-getters who would pack their day to overflowing just for the fun of it, but many more people find themselves swamped by default. Obligations mount simply because life is being lived. Jobs are not always optional. Children require care. Marriages demand time, and so on. A woman often finds herself overwhelmed and exhausted because she is trying to do more than any one person can actually do—and yet it all needs to be done. If she doesn’t want to burn out before she reaches middle age, she will need a strategy for replenishment. Fortunately, there are many things she can do to help balance the needs of her body, mind and soul.

And, wouldn’t you know it, it is actually a mitzvah to work toward this kind of balance, as we are commanded, “Guard your soul.”1 As Maimonides explains, this phrase refers to maintaining a healthy body, the habitat of the soul. Doing so is an essential way of serving G‑d, giving one the necessary mental, physical and spiritual strength to know and serve the Creator. The mitzvah to be very careful with one’s health is connected to the mitzvah to remember the giving of the Torah,2 thus emphasizing the connection between properly taking care of oneself and fulfilling all of the Torah! We can see then, that our well-being cannot be put to the side in the name of self-sacrifice or some imagined higher spiritual value. On the contrary, we must find ways to protect, nurture and strengthen our bodies. One strategy that can help is to put Slow Time on our schedule.

Slow Time

Slow Time is a sort of meditation that can be slipped seamlessly into a busy day. It’s really just a matter of intention. While returning from carpool, for example, you can choose to turn on the radio and listen to the disastrous and terrifying news of the day. Or, you can turn your car into a “spa,” playing your favorite uplifting and relaxing music or podcast or fascinating audiobook, or enjoying simple peace and quiet as you drive home. Notice what makes you feel refreshed and rejuvenated when you are alone in your car, and do it on purpose, with the clear intention to fulfill the mitzvah of guarding your health. Give this time to yourself.

Use these minutes to revel in the baby's awesomeness

Similarly, when nursing a baby, you can be stressing about a million things you could be doing with this time. Or, you can intentionally use these minutes to gaze at your baby, revel in his or her awesomeness, melt into waves of life-enhancing gratitude, dive deep into wells of mother-love. Did you know that feelings of gratitude and love have powerful beneficial physical effects on the body? It’s good for you to go there; it prolongs your life, protects your mind and nourishes your soul!

Washing dishes? Immerse yourself in the wonder of soap suds and the beauty of squeaky clean. A toddler can spend hours at the sink experiencing joy at watching the water pour out of the faucet. When we slow down and really pay attention to what is happening, we can also recapture a bit of the pleasure of the simply sensual. We’re there anyways; we might as well enjoy it fully. Indeed, housework of all kinds lends itself well to meditative focus, allowing our minds to be fully in the moment as we pay attention to the physicality of the activity: folding laundry, running the vacuum or the broom across the floor, wiping a counter, setting a table. Peeling, chopping, stirring—it’s all good. Doing any of these activities consciously puts us squarely in the moment. We can choose to stop thinking, stop planning and start being right where we are, just for a little while. Or, if you prefer, enhance your housework chores with Torah podcasts, audiobooks and/or uplifting music. You can stimulate your mind or gladden your heart while you tend to tasks that don't require your full attention.

Interestingly, just a few intentional minutes here and there throughout the day are enough to reset our system and restore balance. It helps us build a space in which we can find and nurture our true selves. Without such a space, we become mindless robots running from task to task. In order to truly serve G‑d, we need to make time to experience our own psyche. We need a sense of self with which to relate to G‑d. Slow Time gives us time to find and strengthen ourselves. When can you insert Slow Time into your hectic schedule? When will you?