The art of relaxation… I’m WORKING ON IT!
I laugh about the fact that many of us have to research and work on the art of relaxation. While others seem to take it as a challenge to be overcome. I’ve researched and conquered my need for constant motion. I am the winner. Most of the time.
This past summer while wandering through a gift store at a local resort, my husband and I came across a book called “The Art of Doing Nothing.” My husband immediately picked up the book, handed it to me, and asked, “Did you write this?” He thought he was being funny; and I laughed because I actually could have written it.
The birds and the be’s…
My darling husband and I are two very different people. He is a hummingbird, a workaholic, and always on the go. I on the other hand am either going 100 miles an hour or I’m stopped. There is no in between for me; balance is something I strive for. While I’m all about extremes, I’m aware of it and I always have been. I have to focus on be-ing in the moment daily.
When I say my husband is a hummingbird I probably should refer to him as a shark. If he stops moving I’m pretty sure he thinks he’ll die. I can spend an entire Sunday in bed with a good book, a rainy day on the sofa in front of the fireplace, or lose hours in front of the television with a season’s worth of DVR programming.
Mr. Rinaldi simply can’t imagine doing nothing for the sake of doing nothing. Even on vacation he brings work for his downtime. He swears his way of relaxing is getting stuff done. The only times I can recall him sitting and doing nothing in all the years of our marriage has been on two occasions: the first was the worst flu either of us had ever had, and the second was after foot surgery. Both times he was stuck on the sofa in the living room with nothing to do. The longer he sat doing nothing, the grumpier he got.
So as he asked if I had written that book, I was thinking perhaps he should read it.
Work on this a bit
For the rest of you out there who think you’re sharks and have to keep moving, let me give you five suggestions for simply doing nothing. I highly recommend it.
While Mr. Rinaldi thinks meditation is a euphemism for taking a nap, I might at times agree. Frequently, I will admit, my meditation does end in a nap. I like the quiet time with me. I find it helps me get my thoughts together and puts me in a place where I can be more productive. Ugh, I just admitted to making the art of relaxation part of my plan for more productivity. Perhaps I need to invest more time in reading my own work.
Research has shown that a 20-minute nap can actually reduce the risk of a heart attack. And my argument here is that I’m doing my cardio. In all seriousness, many cultures consider siesta part of a normal day. Since most of us are in communication 24-7, few of us get eight hours of sleep a night. You’ll find grabbing a nap will give you more energy and leave you feeling much better. This would be starter series art of relaxation.
Light a fire
Whether it’s a fireplace, fire pit, or a simple candle; the mere act of gazing into a flame will empty even the most cluttered minds. It’s almost instant relaxation. In Southern California where I live, I am guilty of actually having the air-conditioning on with a fire in the fireplace. Don’t go all green on me. I also walk to reduce my carbon footprint. To my point, there is something hypnotic about watching a flame.
Most of us live in areas where city streetlights inhibit our ability to stargaze, but that shouldn’t stop you. Get a blanket and go outside. Early morning, midday or nighttime – it doesn’t matter. Because gazing up at the sky puts things in perspective. You begin to realize what a tiny role you play in the whole of everything. Often, even your problems don’t seem quite as big. A great one for group effort art of relaxation. I’m sure you’ll be able to get the whole family in on it. You’ll be able to spend time together doing nothing. Sounds fabulous.
The act of putting pen to paper for no other purpose than to mark upon it is incredibly freeing. So much of our day – my day at least – is spent writing, corresponding, responding, texting, twittering and the like. To simply doodle is indulgent. It is relaxing. And it is truly the art of doing nothing. This is masters degree art of relaxation. So, this is where you should set your sights – especially if your initial response is, “Well that sounds like a waste of time.” It is. And that’s the whole point of it.
It’s a life saver
In conclusion, relaxing really is doing something. You’re lowering your blood pressure and your heart rate, reducing stress and stress hormones. Ultimately doing something very healthy. Since, we all live lives that have us going day in and day out, it’s important that you find 15 to 30 minutes a day to do nothing. You need to find this down time and to simply relax. Ultimately you’ll be happier, healthier and may even live longer.
Tell me about you now… How do you relax? What is the hardest part for you to turn down – internal noise, body in motion or external influences?