Ok, I’ll admit it…I don’t relax very well.
In fact the thought of not “doing” something is a bit terrifying to me. If I had to use a metaphor to describe myself, I would say I am like that big pink Energizer Bunny. It is the perfect example of how I go through life and a key ingredient to many of my successes. Like the energizer bunny, some part of my body is always moving and my mind is constantly “on”. I’ll admit that people have jokingly asked me where they could find my “off” switch. Like the Energizer Bunny, I keep “going and going” in order to reach my goals.
However, experiencing recent pressures and stress of life, I have come to realize that I am in need of some relaxation and that not everyone is born a good relaxer. If I want to relax, it is something I will have to learn to do and practice.
In my quest to be a better relaxer and discover my best ways to relax I came across these steps that I think will help myself and fellow non relaxers put our minds to rest and also revive our bodies physically.
Step 1: Make time
It can be hard to make time to do nothing when you are not a good relaxer so sparing the hour recommended per relaxation training seems next to impossible. However, I’ve learned that whatever time you can spare, even starting with five minutes, is better than doing nothing. Oh…and just to make it a bit more challenging for us non relaxers you need to make sure you won’t be distracted during your “relaxation” time.
Step 2: Wind down
The next step is to wind down from the normal going, going ,going crazy pace at which us non relaxers now live life. Easier said than done! Winding down means avoiding things that will further stimulate us…like watching intense TV shows or activating music. The good news is that during this step we can actually be doing activities that allow our mind to wander. Activities such as cooking a familiar meal, taking a walk or (one of my favorites) watering my outdoor flower pots are good examples. The key to this step is to allow space for your mind to expand — you will know what works best for you.
Step 3: Find positive emotions
Once you have created this spaciousness it’s important to fill it with positive thoughts and emotions.
Focus on a good moment in your life. It doesn’t have to be anything major, like remembering your best day ever…although it can be. Simply a nice smell, the sense of satisfaction of a job well done or even a memory from years ago of walking your pet will do. Keep that positive emotion running in your mind while you notice and allow the emotion to wash over you. Hold this experience for as long as you like.
Step 4: Give thanks
Next, consider one or two things in life that you feel grateful for. They could be anything: relationships, your health, the sun. You might find it helpful to make the statement “I am thankful for…” and fill in the blank, multiple times during this step. Let your mind dwell on that feeling for a while.
Step 5: Wave at negative thoughts floating past
When letting the mind float free, sometimes it ends up on negative thoughts.
Try to notice these and let them go.
It is important not to push them away, but just to notice them and accept them — just as you might wave at an acquaintance as you pass them on the street.
Then gently refocus your mind to a positive thought or something you are grateful for.
Step 6: Deep focus
After a time, you will probably start to enter a more peaceful state of mind. Here it feels like you have more time…
…and that your time is your own.
Now you have a choice.
If you are enjoying being like this, then carry on.
If you have something meditative that will maintain the state, then now is the time to turn to that.
Open a book you have been meaning to read, start a journal, draw a picture or whatever it is you are into But, if you do choose an activity, make sure it is one that does not disrupt the state of deep focus. Turning on the TV, for example, will likely ruin the moment. Shopping online, reading the news or playing video games will not help you maintain the feeling.
Far better than any of those is to maintain the sense of deep focus for as long as you can — even if you focus on nothing more than enjoying the moment.
In fact: especially if you do nothing more than enjoy the moment.
Why not try these six steps a few times a week and see how it makes you feel….?