Recharging The Batteries

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We might have a lot more free time in the modern world than our predecessors did across the ages, but we don’t always use it very well. If you’re like most people you’re almost a little wary of free time, you feel like you’ve always got to be doing something, so even when there’s nothing you have to do you still find things to do.

Thich Nhat Hanh has made the point that when animals get hurt in nature they find a quiet place where they can lick their wounds, and they lay there for days without doing anything at all, giving their bodies the necessary time to heal on their own. Humans seem to have lost the simple wisdom of the natural world, probably because most of our injuries are mental and emotional rather than physical, and we don’t make the connection that to heal these injuries we need to give our brains a break just like to heal physical injuries we need to give our bodies a break.

Recharging the batteries is important for mental and emotional well-being, and it’s worth asking yourself how much time you devote to total relaxation every week. Do you give yourself chances to unplug, without doing anything except sitting and focusing on your slow and rhythmic in-breaths and out-breaths?

When confronted with some free time, you might start to notice your anxiety bubble up and feel like you need to fill up that space with an activity. Decide instead, at least once in a while, to just relax, trying to keep the various stimuli from your environment to a minimum. Just try to make your breathing the most interesting thing in the world. If you can make this simple practice a part of your daily life you’ll find yourself feeling more refreshed and less overwhelmed by the barrage of demands and stresses constantly thrown your way.