On Wednesday, I posted about Being VS Doing.
My purpose in this follow up post is to delve deeper into ways in which we can achieve deliberate being. I wrote about carving the time out each day to sit and be still. To breathe and allow your thoughts to wind down. I do this daily. Sometimes I do this for a full half an hour, sometimes I can only last 5 minutes. Remember, no pressure is the key. If 5 minutes is all I can handle, then 5 minutes is exactly what I need that day.
This practice can be hard at first. I remember it feeling so alien to sit in silence with myself. Listening to my breathe and noticing my thoughts felt awkward. I imagine many out there can relate to feeling uncomfortable in their own skin.
The focus is to slow down and give ourselves more emotional and mental space within our day. The benefits are amazing and any opportunity we have to achieve “being time” is essential to our human outlook. If being still with yourself or meditating weirds you out, I get it, I’ve been there too. I came to enjoy it but I know how foreign it can feel.
Here are some other things I do that help me achieve calmness during my day.
Try drinking a cup of your favorite tea from start to finish without distractions. Drink the tea without the television, phone, laptop, iPad or what have you. I know it’s hard. But give it a try. Focus on the act of drinking tea. Notice the feeling of hot liquid in your mouth. Notice the aroma of the tea. Notice the inner warmth occurring as the tea enters your body. Sit for as long as there is tea in the mug. We are so used to multi-tasking that focusing on one task can feel crazy and strange. Retraining our minds to focus on one thing at a time will bring a productive flow into our lives. By the time I finish my tea, I feel focused and calm. For more thoughts on tea, check out my Simple Cup of Tea post.
I Could never understand what on earth people enjoyed about stretching and yoga. I tried it once years ago and felt restless and frustrated the whole time. I realize now that my restlessness stemmed from the inner pressure to be doing. I thought that having a hectic day proved how productive I was. Slowing down to stretch for an hour felt like a waste of time. Last year, I started working at a job that requires me to be on my feet for long periods of time. Within weeks I became stiff and tight. Within months I developed a pinched nerve in my right lower back. The pain was awful. I read on line that yoga type stretching could create space within the muscles and tissues and ultimately help the nerve recover faster. So I started doing some light yoga stretches and eventually, began going to classes and doing it on my own in my apartment. Not only did it seriously help my lower back, it also allowed me to experience moving my body in slow deliberate steps. These types of movements require me to breathe, stay focused and stay in the moment. The more I integrate these movements into my life, the easier it is for me to be in the moment in other areas of my life. Tara stiles has a great approach to yoga and life!
-Read a book.
Do it on your kindle, your nook, or the old school way with a book but whatever you do, just read. Get comfortable and carve out some reading time. It may mean not watching that show, or not answering that email. But nothing catastrophic will happen if you skip that show or postpone answering that email. Reading allows me to focus on the words and the story. I always notice a positive difference when I integrate reading books into my day. Click here for my reading list from 2010!
-Take a stroll.
If there is a destination in mind, that’s fine. But try not to rush. Strolling is something of a past time here in NYC. If I am strolling along the sidewalk, chances are there is someone behind me trying to mentally shove me out of the way. If a sidewalk stroll works where you live, go for it. If not, get to the nearest park and stroll. Notice what season you are in and how nature has responded. Notice the creatures, the trees, the grass, leaves, snow and rain. The key is to tap into your awareness and be in the moment. If your thoughts wander off about the bill you need to pay, simply notice the thought and allow it to drift on by. This practice is referred to as Walking Meditation in this article by Steven smith. It’s great for the days where I’m feeling antsy and restless as walking helps me feel active while easing myself into a state of calm.
I hope one or all of these experiences resonates with you and maybe you can try them out today, tomorrow, next week or whenever feels right for you.
I would love to know more about your feelings on this topic. Do you regularly take time out to slow down? Have you already established a calming practice in your everyday life? What tools and tips can you share?
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