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Have you ever thought about meditating? Or even just been fascinated by those who appear to have the ability to completely switch off?
On some level, I have always envied these people, yet I never stopped to work out why I wasn’t able to do the same. In my naivety I assumed that they had some hidden power that I didn’t, or, even more misguided, that they had less going on in their lives.
For as long as I can remember my brain has been in a never ending whirl, refusing to stay still and rarely allowing me time off. Time, which I have recently realised, I badly need.
Whenever people suggested that I relax, I would sit down and do just that but the point was, because my mind was still churning, the relaxation was near on pointless. In my world, I believed that if I kept picking at an issue for long enough, it would be solved or go away.
In the same way, I thought that if I worked through a plot line in my head for long enough, it would magically improve and indeed, if I considered parenting techniques for long enough, I would end up with the best behaved child in the world. Of course, we have to use our brains to think through and solve problems, but I have also learned – only recently – that by allowing mine to churn as much as it was, I was actually being totally unproductive. And not only that, I was using up the precious energy that I had.
Several factors have caused me to rethink, not least of which is my current back and neck situation. Despite treatment, it has yet to improve greatly and I am finding the pain and reduced mobility, really difficult to get my head around. On my most recent visit to the osteopath, he identified that when I experience pain, I actually tense my muscles, thereby making the pain worse. In addition, due to the nature of my condition, there is no way that I am going to get a quick fix, so I have to do what I can, when I can.
One of his suggestions is a form of meditation, a very simple breathing exercise. The idea is that you breathe in for seven counts and then out for eleven counts, and you do that repeatedly for as long as and as often as you like. The theory behind this is that because you breathe out more carbon dioxide (because you are breathing out for longer) it allows more oxygen to your muscles, thus causing you to relax and easing the pain. It takes a while and it is not easy because I have to keep bringing my mind back from its inevitable wanderings, but I am starting to find that when the pain is acute, it is actually helping.
I have also started to adopt this ‘stepping back’ kind of approach in other areas of my life and in particular, my writing. The benefits here are even more noticeable. Instead of spending ages trying to work out how to write the perfect sentence or paragraph and getting it mashed up with everything else in my head, I am taking a breather. I am allowing the creative side of my brain to do what it needs to do and letting the words come freely, even if they are not what I end up with as a final draft. This has proved so much more productive than my old method and I have realised that even I, have the ability to truly relax.
I have a long way to go, but I am certain that if I can continue to work through my life this way, every area will eventually become so much richer.
How does anyone else take time out?