As an ND, I often spend time discussing how important it is to incorporate down time daily into one’s schedule. In our high paced, constantly “plugged in” society, it’s becoming more and more important that we take time daily, if not multiple times a day, to take a breather and slow down. I know, you’re probably thinking “but I don’t have time!!!” If you saw my schedule you might faint, but there’s actually a lot more balance than you might think! Here are some ways I incorporated “down time” into my average day.
Breakfast: I eat slowly, with some soft music playing and lights on low. I wake up every morning with enough time to allow myself to read something for pleasure for about 15-20 minutes before I go to work. I usually drink my coffee during this time. Not totally zen since I’m activating the sympathetic nervous system with the coffee… but I have less than 1 cup (that’s 1 measured cup not a vat of coffee like you can get at some places that shall remain nameless). I sip it slowly and really enjoy the taste and savour the moment.
Lunch: I like to leave the office and walk down Locke Street, if even for 15 minutes or so.
Late Afternoon: After my daily workout, I love to get in some stretching- even the simplest of stretching allows me to feel more relaxed and at peace. My favourite places to stretch after each work out? Neck and shoulders. Most of my workout mates probably think I’m weird because I spend more time stretching this area than anything else. But the truth is, the neck and shoulders are big spots that many of us hold tension. Myself included!
Before Bed: Usually involves winding down with a calming tea, such as chamomile. A few times a week I have a bath in epsom salts and light a candle while I soak in bliss and wash away the day’s stress.
And if you have trouble with structure, just incorporate it when you can. One day I found myself rushing from work to my run practice and then realized..whohoo! I was early! Extra time to find my zen! I stopped and picked up a green tea, parked my car in the sun, opened the windows, and chilled out! Ah! The smell of spring!
Are you starting to realize how you might incoporate your own daily zen into your routine? And no, watching TV, surfing the net or operating any other object with a screen, motor, or other mechanical parts is not relaxing. And neither is reading the newspaper or watching the news. So please don’t include these as part of your daily zen! Find something you enjoy and keep it simple! And just be!