11/14 2011

Take a Time Out, Even if You’re Not a Kid

Indian Meditation Garden

Whenever I lead health and wellness workshops, the one topic that garners a lot of attention is meditation. I am by no means an authority on the topic. Like many of you, I struggle with finding time to sit down, quiet down and settle down my mind. That said, I still believe in the power of taking a time out – as I like to describe it.

Last winter, when I attended Cerebrate, I spoke with a number of East Indians who shared with me the infiltration of meditation in their culture. It is not uncommon to find meditation gardens, where many go to relax, sit quietly and close their eyes. Our culture is so success driven and hurried; I can’t imagine seeing a meditation garden in our communities.

I just read in interesting article about meditation on the LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) site, entitled “Why Meditation is Cool.” Among other benefits, the author suggests that meditation helps us become less self-centered, and more concerned about the welfare of others. Perhaps this very notion is at the root of my recent post, “Money and Happiness: How Much is Too Much?

If you are struggling with taking time outs, here are a few suggestions that might put your mind at ease. Even if your body is still moving.

1. Run without music. And if you can’t make it the entire distance in silence, then turn off the tunes for a mile or two. Soak in the sun. Look at the turning leaves. Smell the surroundings. Or in my case, listen to your heavy breath! Each of these will help you focus on the now, versus fretting over the future.

2. Drive without the radio. Even if you’re sitting in traffic, a little quiet time in the car provides opportunity to ponder. Take note of the person in the car next to you singing at the top of her lungs. Or check out the dogs smiling happily in the back seats. Again, try to relax and take in your surroundings versus honking your way through the moment anxiously.

3. Eat without distractions. When’s the last time you ate alone without music, the TV or a book serenading your meal? If you slow down and eat with purpose, enjoying fresh flavors, not only might you enjoy it more; but you might eat less, too. And when the meal is complete, you might find yourself with a full belly and relaxed mind.

4. Turn off the TV. Even if you like to cook with the Food Chanel in the background, try to stir up your creations in silence. I’ve always said cooking can be great therapy, but doing so in solitude, peace and quiet can put the mind at ease. Not to mention, you might reduce the likelihood of forgetting an ingredient or overcooking the dish!

5. Go for a walk. According to the new self-titled book, this was a practice in which Steve Jobs engaged on nearly a daily basis. Much like jogging in silence, walking is a great way to relax the mind and soak in the surroundings. The slower pace, however, may be even more conducive to meditative thoughts.

Photo courtesy of Buddhism and Gardens.

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