islands of peace

Is relaxation time impossible for you to find?

Personal note

It’s late August, and amazingly enough, Fall is in the air. Leaves are already showing color, temperatures at night are dropping, stores are full of school supplies, and a sense of urgency to get things done after the languid days of summer seems to overtake us.

I am on a mission to get everything in my office necessary for a successful Fall season organized by September 1, so that I can devote myself to my passion – writing, and especially meeting and interacting with people, whether as individuals or audiences for my talks.

I have to remind myself to program “Islands of Peace” into every day, or I could end up starting this exciting season exhausted and ill instead of charged and ready to go.

So could you. This week’s article is a reminder that you don’t necessarily need to book a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast inn (although that would be nice) to give yourself a restful break.

Is relaxation time impossible for you to find?

Find RelaxationDo you find yourself rushing all day, hoping to save some time at the end of the day in which to relax? Only to find that the time you “saved” by rushing wasn’t to be found later on? Perhaps your day is filled with “must do or else” activities that make it difficult for you to find time to slow down and take care of yourself.Here’s an “Island of Peace” you can find, even amidst that kind of chaos. Some time during your day, you must be on the move – from the office to your car, from bus stop to shop, from home to store. Why not use that time productively, not by worrying (which is seldom productive) but by quieting your mind and body.

Try using your travel time for this variation of a “Walking Meditation.”  Here’s how it works:

Body awareness

Start by taking a few deep breaths. As you exhale, imagine that a shower of relaxing energy is pouring down your body, from the crown of your head to your chest and shoulders, then flowing out of your fingertips and toes, washing out all tension and care.

Walk mindfully, feeling your feet touch the ground and being aware of the powerful force rising through your legs to your whole body.

If you are one who can imagine hearing music (or you have ear buds), walk in rhythm to a favorite piece of music.

Mental awareness

Focus on your immediate environment rather than your hectic thoughts about the future or draining thoughts about the past. Look for things to delight you that you might otherwise not have noticed: clouds of an interesting shape, the tint of the sky, the way that leaves on a tree are a different color on the underside, a delightful pet or child, an interesting person, a mellow, faded brick wall….  The list is endless when you are truly looking at what is in front of you.

Just for a few minutes you can step outside of your overly-busy mind and experience the delight of being truly in the present.  You have experienced an “Island of Peace.”

You had to take this walk anyway. Why crowd it with stressful thoughts about things – telephone calls, conversations, letters, projects – which you can’t do anything about while walking?

Notice how many occasions you have during the day to repeat this experience.

Then make sure you repeat it.

Helping Heart-Wise Women

Heart—wise women are women who:

  • Have had a cardiac event of any kind, or
  • Know they have significant risk factors for cardiac disease.or
  • Are intelligent enough to know their stress-filled lives can kill them

Harried women are:

  • Overly-busy women who  can’t seem to find enough time to  exercise, meditate, and do all the things they know are good for them
  • Working women, women entrepreneurs, women with families, women being caretakers……
  • Just about every woman we know!

As a Certified Life Coach and teacher, I work with overly-busy women who are concerned about their hearts and who can’t find the time to relax or meditate because they believe they have “delegated everything they can delegate and let go of everything possible”.  I help them to shift their perspectives, identify hidden time-wasters, change habitual thoughts and actions that rob them of time, energy, and power,   and discover time for life-enhancing activities.

Looking for Time in the All the Wrong Places

Feeling rushed seems to be a by-product of modern life. We work to have a better life, but discover we have to spend time commuting to the home we were able to provide because of the job.  We take up activities to stay healthful and involved in life, then discover we have increased our commitments to the point where we no longer enjoy these “leisure” activities. We want to do a good job in every aspect of life: work, relationships, child-rearing, home care, and we feel buried in joyless responsibility.

Take time to go to a weekend meditation retreat?  You know it would be good for you, but if you can’t even find the time to sleep in a little later on a weekend, how could you possibly set aside two days of doing nothing?

Many of us keep looking for time in all the wrong places.  Such as, “After I’m through with work, and my commute, and my personal banking business, and my food shopping and meal preparation, and my commitment to other people   ….then I’ll have a little time to relax. And it never happens.

Don’t wait until everything else is done. There’ll never be anything left for you.  Do as personal money managers advise:  Pay yourself first. If possible, spend a few quiet moments at the start of the day meditating. You will start your day feeling more clear-headed about what you plan to accomplish.

Other ideas for managing your time better:

  1. Manage your transitions better. Enter every new task and encounter after you’ve spent a few minutes doing some deep breathing and clearing your mind.  Your loved ones, your boss, even your pets will thank you for being more relaxed
  2. Stress makes you stupid. Remember “Ready, Fire, Aim”?.  Slow down deliberately when starting a new task; write out a plan of what you are going to do (writing it forces you to slow down and think), even (heaven forbid!) read directions first.  The time you spend will be more than repaid by the time you save not having to go back and correct mistakes.
  3. Live in the present, not the past or future:  Rushing to an appointment, reviewing in your mind the coming topic, you park your car, slam the door, and walk away.  An hour later you search frantically for your car in the parking lot or on a city street because you can’t remember where you put it.  Stop when you leave your car, note small landmarks that will orient you, then walk to your appointment mindfully noting passersby and scenery.  You’ll arrive more refreshed and clear-headed, and you won’t  waste time searching for something that shouldn’t have been “lost”.
  4. Give up too much caretaking:  Unless you have a very young child or a helpless invalid in your life, you may be doing a lot more caretaking than is good for you…..or for the other person.. Son forgot his homework and wants you to deliver it to the school?  Maybe once, but after that he is responsible for the consequences of his behavior. Give up obsessing about the possible negative outcome of a friend’s behavior if you can do nothing about it.  The rule is: If you don’t have the authority to do something about it, don’t take the responsibility.

Following the above guidelines may not get you immediately to that two-day meditation retreat, but you’ll find you can create “islands of peace” in the middle of your chaotic days, and perhaps this will be the start of a new way to live, and to love your life.


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