Finding the “OFF” Switch

Many of us are “on” much of each day- we put on our “game face” and do whatever it is that we do, hopefully with excellence and zest, be it a job, volunteer/philanthropic work, or for home and family. Problem is for many, especially Type A personalities, it’s hard to find our “off” switch so we never feel truly relaxed, quiet, or stress free.

I like to observe people. Anywhere, everywhere, I’m watching! What I see teaching relaxation classes is that some people slide easily into mind and body rest and know how to let go. For others, even with permission and verbal cuing, their version of relaxation includes open eyes, tight muscles, and most likely racing minds. So why is it important to be still and how do we learn this discipline?

We think thousands of conscious, sub conscious and unconscious thoughts every day, both waking and sleeping. Imagine how tired our little minds get processing all of that information constantly! William Penn said, “True silence is the rest of the mind, and is….what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” So the idea is to develop a habit of silence, free from the onslaught of our thoughts, (which as we discussed last month, are not always necessary or even true!)

For those of us with dearly held beliefs, silence can include reciting meaningful words, prayer and meditating on the things that are uplifting and helpful in our life’s journey, laying aside negativity and all that diminishes the best version of us. Perspective and truth can be gained in the quiet.

In the book, The Secret Garden a troubled young girl discovers a key that opens the door to a badly neglected private garden. She brings the garden back to life with time and effort and she is brought life and joy in the process. I see my quiet time this way. I am not running away from my duties and responsibilities forever, but I have learned to say, “Not now,” to these things when it is time to take my key, open the door, and enter a private, beautiful, truthful sanctuary within me. It is a place and time that is separate and distinct from the other parts of my life. No one but God is invited into my garden and my silence! It is invaluable time, not at all wasted time. And then, it’s time to close the door and go out into the world!

So how can you develop this habit if it is not currently a part of your life? Set aside specific time and space where you can be free of distractions. Get comfortable in your body, sitting or lying down. The goal is “active rest”, not necessarily sleep!

Breathe slowly and steadily and let your mind follow and focus on the breath to start settling the mental monkeys down! Scan your body and systematically release and relax either from top to bottom or bottom to top- notice anywhere your body tends to hold tension, like your neck, shoulders, jaw, belly, and let go until your body feels truly released. You may want to add gentle stretches, or just be physically still- see what works for you. Try it today for 5 or 10 minutes and see how it goes and let me know!

Healthy people cannot be “ON” all the time- they learn to embrace their “OFF” switch!

Be Healthy, Be Happy!  Nancy

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