“To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
‘Take a deep breath.’ ‘Relax.’ It’s often easier said than done. Today’s post will talk about the importance of incorporating more relaxation time into your busy routine by highlighting one of my favourite ways of winding down, and in particular, returning to the present moment…because without being present, it is almost impossible to relax.
It is never too late to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions. Relaxing more in 2017, if it is not already part of your personal goals, should be added to the list if you are seeking more balance in your life. We live in a fast-paced life, where distractions are endless and moments of relaxation can seem elusive. Without taking these important moments of rest, however, we risk increasing our stress levels beyond control and eventually burning out. Some stress is good, like when you are about to write an important exam, interview for a job, or drive in a snowstorm. Extreme or relentless stress, however, can have harmful effects, which can lead to mental and physical deterioration.
Having a ‘go-to’ grounding strategy to help you relax and alleviate stress is important. To me, meditation has become that ‘go-to’ strategy. Caitie Fenn, a Canadian meditation guru, praises meditation as one of the best ways of staying in the present moment, which can help slow down and ultimately eliminate those invasive thoughts and inner clutter. Since beginning the transformative practice of meditation, I have been better able to unwind and relax, deal with stressful situations, and catch myself in moments of autopilot and correct it by taking deep, restorative breaths. Most importantly, however, meditation has played a crucial role in maintaining a balanced lifestyle.
Changes in routine are essential in creating balance in your life. If meditation is something that you would like to try or adopt more permanently, setting aside time in your day to engage in the practice is necessary. When I decided to incorporate meditation into my day-to-day routine, I started waking up earlier than my husband and dog so that I could meditate in an environment free from distractions. It is also important to keep in mind that meditation is not a practice that can be mastered overnight. To avoid discouragement, keep the exercise short and simple. Find a quiet room. Sit comfortably. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. If your mind wonders (which it will…a lot), welcome the thoughts, but gently bring your attention back to your breath.
There are countless phone apps, YouTube channels and other platforms that offer free meditation audios and videos. My personal favourite is an app called Calm that provides a variety of free guided and unguided meditation audios, among other things. Based on your personal preferences, you can choose from audios such as Meditation to Calm Anxiety, Meditation to Help with Self-Esteem, Timed Meditation, and Open-Ended Meditation. Calm also features sleep stories for children and adults alike, which incorporate meditative elements to help improve your sleep.