Roberts: Practice slow-motion meditation for mental health

I was discovering the healing power of meditation and solitude about the time I decided to run for county executive. You can imagine how hard it was to find time for peace and quiet when campaigning 16-20 hours a day.

Then when I was elected six months later, I became responsible for the work of more than 500 employees in the five major divisions of county government. It was equally difficult to find time for my solitude breaks.

I have always believed creative thinking can find some kind of solution to any challenge, so I started experimenting with ways to quickly quiet my mind and tap into my inner resources. The main truth I discovered is that mindfulness, simply being fully present with whatever is going on at the moment, can be a real taste treat for the inner being. It is a mini-solitude break.

I picked up another jewel of an idea from Shinzen Young. Now this one may sound silly to you, but please take my word for it - it works. It's called the "slow-motion meditation." Just slow down any activity you are engaged in, and do it intentionally at half speed.

The first time I tried slow-motion meditation was in washing dishes. Now 30 years later, I still wash my own dishes by hand, and it is one of the most wonderful snatches of solitude I have all day. I am surprised that some damsel has not proposed marriage to me.

Any activity intentionally slowed down will move your brain waves from busy beta to peaceful alpha. You know you have hit alpha when you have that peaceful "aha" moment, bringing a calming balm to the body and mind.

Mother and Dad loved to read in bed. For hours they would not say a word. They were reading different books, but I could feel the fellowship when I walked in the room. It was a beautiful sharing of solitude. The more we are tuned into lovers and friends, the less need we have for language. It's one of the things Jesus meant when he said, "the two become one."

One day when I was especially stressed, I just walked out of my office and went to the courthouse lawn where I often saw birds drinking and bathing. This day, a robin was there. I slowly moved within 2 feet of her. Our eyes met. It was a deeply healing experience. I returned to my office refreshed.

I live within walking distance of the Chickamauga Boat Harbor. When I was a small boy, it was a mile from our home and the first place mother would let me ride my bicycle alone. She would pack me a little sack lunch for my visit there. I discovered a huge flat rock that jutted out into the water and only an agile boy could get to it. So I started taking a can of worms and a rod and reel. I had many days of great peace there.

Think about your surroundings, and you will realize there are little nooks and crannies that call to you to come and wash your mind and body with alpha.

Value yourself enough to know that you deserve these gifts of peace and only you can give them to yourself.

E-mail Dalton Roberts at