I bet you remember moments in your life where things seemed so much less stressful. You might, like myself, be of the pre-mobile phone generation when we all seemed to have a little more dedicated time for everything, or perhaps you don’t go that far back, but you might remember a happy childhood in nature where even an ant on a leaf was a form of entertainment. I wonder what your stress-free time might be?
In this moment we find ourselves in a world where everything appears to be speeding up constantly with no signs of slowing down. There is an urgency in the air and a build up of incessant ‘busyness’. In this rush we hardly have time to look around and absorb anything, the messaging we are receiving from all angles is telling us where to look, how to look, where to go, what to buy and what the coolest thing to be seen doing is so that you fit in just right.
It’s the perfect stress and anxiety recipe, it affects our immune system, makes us physically, mentally and emotionally sick, and we get stuck in repetitive cycles not really knowing where to turn.
Do you ever feel like freezing time? Maybe you’d like to freeze it just so you can have a second to breathe and explore your options at your own pace, maybe you don’t want to go this way or that, maybe you want to stay right here. Or perhaps your secret wish is to be able to finally just let everything go…all of it…stress, overwhelm, bad feelings, responsibilities that you didn’t truly want and aren’t sure how you ended up with. Maybe there are just too many things going on in your mind at once, and the thought of unplugging from a society of constant stimulation and instant gratification even for a few minutes would be like a breath of fresh air to you.
One thing is certain, whether you came from this technological age or before it, we can all benefit from discovering methods of simplifying everything, of learning what it is to not be constantly connected to this fast-paced world so that we can remember our own minds, what we’re made of and why we’re here.
Of course, there are positive aspects to this world we live in; we have instant access to information, we can talk to people all over the world, we can create businesses and other online forums that enhance and help. Imagine being able to find peaceful moments in the chaotic side of it, where we could learn to add to the positive aspects and where we could make these peaceful moments a regular ritual and an opportunity for reflection and rebalance.
It might seem obvious or cliché, but one way to really help with this is meditation. Now hear me out for a moment before you go imagining gongs and incense on mountain tops! I’m not just talking about sitting cross-legged and chanting, although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I’m talking about finding meditation in everything we do.
The great thing about meditation is that:
- It can be done anywhere and in many different ways.
- It’s as close to freezing time as we can get!
- You don’t have to analyse or combat anything specific.
- You gain overall peace of mind and body.
Initially it may seem counter-productive, because the last thing you think you have time for in such a crazy busy society is to stop and meditate right? Well this cuts out the ‘I don’t have time’ excuses, or the feelings of not knowing where to even begin, and we’ve certainly all felt like that before!
So how do we find time to do it? I personally mark down specific dates or times that are meaningful to me, that way they serve as triggers to remind me. I choose things like specific moon phases, specific times of day, and that makes it more symbolic for me. Because that doesn’t always work for everyone especially if the time constraints are just too great, the next thing is to think of the activities in the day that you can incorporate meditation into. For example:
- If you’re walking somewhere make that walk more meaningful by noticing any nature along the way, or by listening to a relaxing audio or music you love during the walk.
- If you’re going to have a shower, use that as an opportunity to take some deep breaths and to focus on the feeling of the warm water on your skin.
- Pick an hour of your day to switch off your phone and stick it in a drawer, then read a book, have a nap, play with your children, pet the cat, water the plants, re-organise something. Anything that takes you out of the race and allows you to be fully absorbed and relaxed.
This is all meditation; a graceful pause in a seemingly non-stop pace.
If you want to try getting a little more intense with it, how about occasionally scheduling in a wholeday in advance where you refuse to make any other plans? Yep, a whole day!
Does that sound impossible or too much? You could make it half a day, or just a few hours, but first listen to the thoughts that come up when you imagine a whole day to yourself. Imagine picking a day in your diary, (even if you just do it a couple of times a year) and actually booking yourself into your own day, letting your loved ones know this is what you will be doing, and then staying committed to it. That means not being roped in or guilt-tripped into anything else, and not doing any of your regular chores unless you are genuinely relaxed by them and not because you feel you have to. If you have kids is there anyone that can care for them that day, especially with some notice? A partner, a family member, a friend, or any other childcare?
I know people with potential childcare options that would be feeling guilt creeping in by now at the thought of leaving the children with someone else just to have ‘me time’, but that me time is actually essential self-care, like going to the doctor, the dentist or the gym, except in this case you have an appointment to seek guidance from your own inner specialist.
What happens when you don’t stop and look after yourself? The same that happens to anything else; plants, children, animals, gadgets, homes, cars…they stop working properly and fall apart. It’s a case of putting on the oxygen mask first so you can be well for others. If you are exhausted, overwhelmed and strung-up it rubs off on others, so equally, if you are feeling rested and well, others can feel the benefits of it too.
Imagine having that day or half-day to yourself. What would you do? I have some ideas:
- Go out into nature, a park, woods or a beach
- Lie in the grass or sand and stare at the sky
- Go to your favourite cafe
- Crochet or knit
- Sit and read a book or watch something you enjoy
- Take yourself to the cinema
- Go to a dance or yoga class
- Go swimming
- Create something
- Listen to music or an audio
- Catch up on sleep!
- If you aren’t able to go out and you don’t have the place to yourself, shut yourself in the bathroom for an hour and light some candles with some music on or a good book.
Guess what, these are all ways to incorporate meditation into your life, and as you can see, it isn’t always how you think it should be or as complicated as you might imagine. There are lots of ways to find that pause and if you take little ones regularly enough, a non-stop pace can soon becomes a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
By Ema Borges
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Featured Photo: Kevin Leigh Unsplash