I am starting a new weekly column in my blog all about those tricky words and phrases you may hear, but you still have questions around. Each Wednesday, a new "Let's Talk" blog will be published, so I would encourage you to let me know what else you would like to learn about!
This week I am kicking it off with-Active Relaxation!
It seems like an oxymoron to work yourself into calming down. Well, yes, and no. Our bodies do naturally relax in times of peace, maybe when you are around your partner, friends, or surrounded by kittens. Actually, that would get my heart racing, but you get the picture.
You can also aid your body in finding tranquility. Remember the parasympathetic system we were talking about before? Activating that system helps your body to slow down and process everything in order to keep going.
One of the easiest ways to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system is through meditation.
"WOAH! Put on the brakes." Is what you might be thinking. "I've tried meditating and it is too hard. I can't concentrate. I can't focus. I can't sit still. I can't complete a session correctly."
Now it is my turn to tell you, "Woah! Put on the brakes." If thoughts of that nature are flooding into your brain you have the wrong idea about meditation. Believe me, I said those exact same words. Protested, made excuses, and felt frustrated. Hell, I spent a month in India trying to learn all the best Zenning out techniques and still couldn't "master" meditation, much to my chagrin.
In the ashram I stayed in we would meditate for 20-30 minutes twice a day at dawn and dusk. Some days were better than others. On the bad days I would peel open one eye (because I felt it was cheating/breaking if I opened both) and do a quick scan of the room. Everyone else seemed so peaceful. Straight spines, content looks, happy back of the heads, everyone just looked like they had figured it out. I scolded myself for not having enough focus, discipline, and patience. I desperately wanted to gain those qualities, but I kept thinking, why I am the only one not getting it? I must not be trying hard enough. But time and again I learned no matter how much harder I "tried" at meditation, I didn't feel an improvement.
The thing is, how can you gauge a meditation session? By how many rounds I counted on my mala beads? By the number of times my mind wandered? How fast or slow the session seemed to pass? I was trying to quantify an intangible experience.
And guess what? Each of those sessions, no matter how frustrating, were meditation. It is all about the experience. Every single day, every minute you are changing. Reacting. Growing. Improving. Evolving. And most importantly doing your best, given the situation, whatever that may be.
We all have heard about the numerous benefits meditation can have. Including better sex and improved memory. But did you know that meditating can actually increase your energy? It is believed that you can actually gain more energy from a 20 minute meditation session than from a couple hours of sleep.
Sometimes beginning is the hardest part. But there is no need to worry because I've got your back. (Turn to page 42.) Just start taking a little bit of time 1-5 minutes to add in some active relaxation into your day. Amp it up little by little and see how you go.
If you already have a regular meditation practice I would love to hear your tips and advice!