Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Art of Zen

I was recently told by my doctor that I need to relax more. Easy for him to say. Does he not realize how busy our lives are? I don’t know about you, but my day is full from start to finish and probably even after I go to sleep, I just don’t know it.
With family, work, writing, laundry and so on and so forth, it’s nearly impossible to find that essential downtime. And personally, I found it funny when he told me to “schedule” it.
But he has a point. And he made some valid suggestions. My favorite, though, was when he told me how I should end each night. For what it’s worth, I’ve done this several times and it is working for me.

1.       In a quiet room, sit comfortably either on a chair or on the floor. Do not lie down or you’ll fall asleep.
2.       Close your eyes and begin to visualize your body, beginning with your feet. Flex and relax them, imaging the tension flowing from your toes. Okay, this part cracks me up mostly cause I’m terribly ticklish, but also because I have problems with flowing. My tension apparently shoots from my toes in blue flames. The perils of being a writer, I suppose.

3.       Next, flex and relax your calves, then your knees, making your way up your entire body, ending with your head. Don’t ask me how you’re supposed to flex your head, cause that just makes my ears wiggle.

4.       Finally, take several deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, hold for a slow  count to five then exhale slowly. Do this five times. I have issues with holding my breath to five. What’s slow? What if I’m going too fast? What if I’m going too slow? Will I pass out? Will I hit my head? Crap… I just realized I’m tense again.

5.       In a quiet room, sit comfortably …

Since being told by him to create a peaceful bedroom environment (although I flatly refuse to remove my TV from my room!) I’ve looked into different ways to accomplish this. Lots of ideas and thoughts about this on the interwebs, of course. Aromatherapy, noise machines, pets, sleep masks and noise canceling headphones (which I would never wear while I sleep because I’m positive I would strangle myself!), all sorts of things. Some work and some don’t.

I really like the Lavender pillow mist from Bath & Body Works but I dislike going to sleep in total quiet.  I have my TV on as I go to sleep. Having it off makes me wake up a lot. Plus, my teenager INSISTS on having his music up loud and the bass thumping along the wall. Not conducive to a peaceful bedroom environment.  I am generally cold, but when I go to sleep, I have to have the A/C running. I change my sheets every day (yes, you read that right). I find slipping into a freshly made bed one of the most comforting sensations in the world. Right along with that first sip of ice-cold Dr Pepper. Which, apparently I’m not supposed to get up in the middle of the night to drink. Huh, still working on that.

One of the other things is to visualize something tranquil. Again, this is where I get into trouble. Oh sure, I always START off nice and relaxed. I’m on the beach, in a nice chair, the sun warmly (not too hot) beating down on me, the waves lapping at the shore. No, wait. I’m IN the water. On one of those long lounging floating chaise things. Hm, maybe not because my balance is crap. I’m in one of those huge round tubes you use for river tubing. Yeah, that’s it.
So, in the tube, warm sun, eyes closed, fingers gently trailing in the water, the soft screech of gulls from the shore… oh crap, what’s under me? Is that a shark? What just brushed my leg? Seaweed or sharp teeth?! HELP! … and just like that, there goes my tranquility.

So, I’m still working on perfecting my sense of Zen. Got any more ideas? How do you relax and find time for yourself in the hustle and bustle of your day?

Happy Zening

1 comment:

  1. Love your Zen post, Jen. I too have trouble with the one where you're supposed to relax each muscle but do very well with the visualization of my "favorite serenity place" which is also the beach or a lake house. It's fun to get creative with the scene --and okay to float around on the raft soakin' up the sun, I sure do!--guess that's the writer too. I usually drift off fairly easily when I can get into this mindset. Keep trying. You'll get there.