Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just One More Resolution for 2012: Relax

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to calm down, because your physician has strongly advised it, or because you hate how burned out you feel and life isn’t as rewarding as it used to be?

To that end, meditation, exercise and stroking your cat are some of the most popular recommendations by professionals and gurus alike. And you may have tried some of these activities in the past (assuming you aren’t allergic to cats). Meditation might have left you feeling confused and convinced that you must be doing something wrong. You were not looking for a “path” and it wasn't a good fit. Running in the morning was making you feel healthier, but your mind was already at work, preparing the many arguments you were likely to have that day, so it wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience.

So here you are. You need to learn how to calm yourself, but your life is too busy and hectic to take time out for experimentations that you are not particularly drawn to. Is that about it? Well, read on - I'm bringing help.

I do believe that meditation and exercise are wonderful and proven ways to bring about mental well-being and improve health in general. I also know that the majority of people  who give these a first try, walk away sooner than later. Meditation takes dedication and expert guidance, and there is no quick pay off. For the person who cannot stop his or her stressful thoughts while exercising, another solution is needed. Sadly for many who believe they have failed at something that obviously has changed the lives for others, self-judgment will be harsh.

Some individuals even believe that taking any time out for oneself is selfish somehow, and that something important is sure to suffer for it.

So, how do all of us, with so little time, desperate to get away from a mind in overdrive, and body muscles tight enough for “flight or fight” at any minute, get to a place were we can both rest and recharge?

Everyone near my age (thirty something) grew up plugged into earphones stuck in a Walkman. It was the greatest thing - no complaints about volume, and no arguments about what constituted “good music.” The world that “didn't get it” was simply tuned out.

Of course we have updated the equipment with iPods and MP3 players, but you can still use them to tune out and relax anywhere and anytime you can take a break.

This method works so well, because you decide what will truly take you away for a while. You choose the type of music you love, or you can listen to someone read to you from your favorite book. You could listen to the sounds of nature, the chants of monks or even a guided relaxation meditation.

I recommend a cold washcloth over the eyes (or a wet hankie if you are at work) and elevated feet, if possible. Your mind becomes passive during this “tune out” because it is listening.   And the body, no longer getting stressful signals from the brain, relaxes as well -  and that feels so very good.

Finding more peace and relaxation is like trying to lose 50 lbs. Small but steady increments, and keeping the ground you’ve gained, will keep you on the You path.

Try it, it works!!

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