We normally think of relaxing by getting out of the situation – taking time out, chilling out, getting out of the country for a wonderfully relaxing holiday.
That’s very important. We need it – and most of us need more of it. Time doing nothing is a valuable activity!
But there’s another way: relaxing into activity.
We do it naturally with our favourite activities. Hobbies, sports, movies, sunsets, conversation with old friends, special time with loved ones – whatever it is, we get completely absorbed. Time flies, and nothing else matters.
That’s what I mean by relaxing into activity.
Mindfulness helps you to relax into any activity – even those that normally bore you or stress you. Your experience becomes more like your experience of your favourite activities. You become more engaged, so the experience becomes more enjoyable and more satisfying. (And because you’re more focused, you’ll get things done more quickly, too!)
Mindfulness skills are on a sliding scale. We’ve all got some mindfulness skills already, and we’ve all got the possibility of going further.
So start by appreciating what’s already working:
- When are you already relaxed and engaged, even a little bit?
- When do you already find activities enjoyable and satisfying?
- What helps?
- What can you learn from these examples?
If you spend a little time reflecting on these questions you might be in for a pleasant surprise.
Of course, there are lots of exercises to develop your skills further in this area. In fact just about any mindfulness exercise will help! But if you’d like to try something now, here’s one suggestion:
- choose a particular task that you have to do, something that takes 10-20 minutes.
- Decide to focus on it completely – decide not to respond to emails, texts, phone calls or any social media, and decide not to engage with any other tasks.
Although it sounds simple and easy, most people find it surprising challenging to focus in this way. And surprisingly rewarding too.
How about you?