My Number One Self Care Hack: Mind-LESS-ness
A Break for My Brain
I’m often surprised at the level of self-care and re-nourishment I’ve come to need. A heavy patient load and a great family (Thank You God) are more than enough some days to wring me out like a rag if I’m not careful. So here’s a long time habit I’ve relied on. Mind-LESS-ness. I know that “mind-FULL-ness” is all the rage. Right up there with meditation and yoga. But this practice, while based on those ancient traditions is far simpler.
It’s so simple you’ll be amazed. You don’t have to go to the gym. It’s restful beyond belief. Requires no tools, special equipment nor expensive courses or training. Can be done anywhere, anytime. And recent research, for example at UMASS on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, suggests practicing like this improves both our mental and physical health. You be the judge.
Where is Anywhere
My favorite way to accomplish mind-LESS-ness is by darkening my office, setting my iphone timer for 20 minutes and turning on the ceiling fan. I then kick all the way back in my chair (yes, it’s a recliner) and allow my thoughts to vanish. And when they do, my body finds the deepest, most restful places I’ve ever experienced. I sometimes fall asleep. I usually fall into the “twilight” of a kind of “self-hypnosis”. I always recover “ultra-refreshed”.
Starting out takes a little practice. Shutting down our thoughts, even briefly, is something of a “counter-intuitive” move, as our busy, multi-tasking lifestyles are highly rewarded. Our minds are quite turbulent, mostly looking ahead or behind us. Rarely fully present.
Here’s a key from the ancient Hindus: Come to Your Senses. Literally. The secret is allow our bodies to relax enough to begin re-focusing our mind onto “present centered modalities”. Starting with our breath, we can practice bringing ourselves fully into the present moment without judgment. I love the relief that comes from closing my eyes and leaving the lighted world behind. I become aware of my breathing. I sense the cool fabric supporting me. I hear gentle sounds of fans stirring the air. I smell the rich leather beneath me. In my experience, it only takes focusing on two of these “present sense modalities” at once to completely shut down one’s thinking. And then “sail away”.