There is an ebb and flow in life. When you watch a wave, it builds and crashes on the sand. The tides go in and out. Our hearts pump blood in and push blood out. We give and receive. And in the midst of it all, there is a small silent pause. I believe while movement is essential, rest is just as essential. And sadly, rest is exactly what our society is lacking.
Why Do We Need Rest?
We live in a fast-paced, stressful and chaotic world. Every day can be over-stimulating: From running to-do lists, meeting deadlines at work, juggling endless family commitments including the needs of children, spouses, and aging parents, it never seems to end.
Television and media bombard us with frenetic messages, from the latest gadget we need, to what’s wrong with us, to why we need certain medications, to the colors and vivid pictures that pop out at us, not to mention the news that fills our heads with images of doom and gloom.
Everything we do is fast. We drive fast, we eat fast, we exercise hard and fast. We cram as much into one day as we possibly can, whether we are at work or on vacation. Just as an infant gets cranky and irritable when they’ve had too big of a day out and need their own home environment, their own bed and some down-time from the over-stimulation of colors, images, sounds and people, so too do we as adults. Our brains are not made to handle large amounts of chronic stimulation. They are hard-wired for rest and require it.
Our Brain is Like a Smartphone
Think of it this way: How well does your smartphone run when you use it all day and then plug it in for only 30 minutes? You won’t get a full charge and eventually, the phone runs out of battery life. Our own systems function the same way. It’s as if our brains are the internal operating system, much like that of a smartphone.
When we multitask throughout the day and have several applications simultaneously running in our head, we use up a lot of battery life, or essentially a lot of LIFE. If we don’t stop, slow down and plug into ourselves and shut down some of the apps, over time the constant overuse will lead to burnout, essentially like a phone with a bad battery. This is when life has spiraled out of balance. We get sick. We get depressed. And sadly, we get “dis-ease”. However, what if we committed to adding in a slight “pause” or rest, each day, in the form of meditation? What balance could the “ebb” bring to the “flow” of life?
Meditation is defined as the practice of focusing the mind on some object of awareness, so it becomes steady and clear. In its most simplistic form, meditation creates space for a “one-tracked” mind rather than the “hamster wheel” of many thoughts and multi-tasking many brain and body tasks at once. The body is required to be still and pause, either sitting tall or reclining.
The mind is focused on one object, breath technique, phrase, or word. When the mind and body are calmed and steadied, research has shown that one can experience a plethora of health benefits, including longevity. Studies show meditation increases telomere lengths, a marker of enhanced overall health and longevity. A regular practice of taking time out for a pause, or meditating, can be incredibly transformational to not only the individual’s mind, but also their life and overall health in general.
And it’s as simple as a pause. Here’s some suggestions to make meditation a reality in your day:
Tips for How to Do It
-Take five minutes in the morning before you start your day to sit with a warm cup in your hands and pause and reflect on how you would like your day to go.
-Pause at the end of your day, just before climbing into bed, and say a prayer of thanks, or simply sit on the edge of your bed and take five long, deep breaths.
-Arrive at your destination a few minutes early, recline your seat in your vehicle and mentally scan your body, relaxing as many muscles as you can.
-Sit with a beloved family member or pet each day, holding one another and simply breathing together without speaking. Just tuning into each other.
-Begin a journal, writing three things you are hopeful for as the day begins, and end the day with three things you are grateful for.
-Step out into nature once per day with your bare feet on the earth, leaning against a tree, or touching the water’s edge somewhere, gazing upward towards the sun. Find appreciation in the beauty of nature all around you.
-As you sit down with a meal of choice, rid yourself of all other distractions. Focus on tasting each bite of your food as your only thought. Let every flavor bring you into the moment and chew slowly, enjoying the experience of eating.
-Finally, try our simple “Focus & Relaxation” Juvo Board Meditation below and indulge a rest for your body and brain as well as your spirit.
With just one small pause during your day, you will be amazed at the harmonious balance that ensues. The recharge, refresh and relaxation of rejuvenating your brain and body will empower you to make a commitment to yourself to continue this critical self-care and give you more energy for the day and the tasks at hand.
Written by: Jodelle Fitzwater, Master Trainer for the Juvo Board, and eRYT500