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Celebrating Stillness

Rush, rush, rush. Is your life so busy that sometimes you get lost in all the chaos? Give yourself the gift of still moments so you can better enjoy the rest of your life. Here are 10 simple ways to be still from Richard Mahler’s bookStillness: Daily Gifts of Solitude.

  1. Turn Off the Phone. The telephone can be a tyrant, demanding your undivided attention with its insistent ring—and the implication that you must drop everything to engage in conversation. If you’re not dealing with something urgent, a call can wait. Turn off the ringer and use an answering device to take messages.
  2. Walk in a Park. Take some time to experience the natural quiet of trees and grass. Even in urban areas, a park is more tranquil than the busy streets that surround it. If there’s a fountain or stream, so much the better, since the “white noise” of flowing water screens human-made sounds and soothes the soul.
  3. Ignore the Computer. Like the phone, a humming computer begs for attention. Don’t give in. Your e-mail, the Internet and unfinished work will still be there when you’re ready to return to them. If you have a computer in your bedroom, consider moving it so that it won’t intrude on your sleep or relaxation. The same goes for the TV set.
  4. Go on a Media Fast. Many of us feel the day hasn’t really started until we check the headlines in the newspaper or tune into the TV or radio news. Yet the news is seldom good. Do you really need to know about the latest murder, mayhem or stock market dive? Give yourself a treat by going without news for a full day.
  5. Have a Quiet Car. Driving is stressful enough, especially in rush hour traffic. Lower the tension and reduce the distraction by turning off your radio, tape/CD player and cell phone. Roll up the windows to shut out the road noise. Pay attention to your driving, but also to the scenery you’re passing and what’s going on inside your head and heart.
  6. Eat a Meal in Silence. Most of us don’t pay much attention to the food we eat. We’re too busy talking, reading, watching TV or working. Try cutting out the distractions and let yourself really see, taste, smell and savor your food. Enjoying a delicious meal, particularly in the company of loved ones, can instantly comfort and relax us.
  7. Take a Hot Bath. Light a candle; add oils, salts or scents to the water; stretch out against a bathtub pillow; close your eyes and luxuriate in steamy sensuality. Alternatively, take a long, hot shower and let the water wash your cares and woes away.
  8. Go to Your Room and Close the Door. Do what’s needed to let go of your stress and recover your psychological balance. This may mean stretching out on the bed, sitting on a meditation pillow or doing some yoga exercises. Maybe you’d like to draw, play an instrument, or listen to some soothing music. Keep the mood simple and tranquil.
  9. Find the Quietest Time and Place You Can. The world is special at dawn, often the calmest and most beautiful hour of the day. A secluded corner of your garden or home may inspire serenity. Whatever the space and time, find your restful sanctuary and let it fill you with rapture.
  10. Turn Off the TV. We use the television to relax, inform and entertain. But sometimes it can drain our energy or add to our tension. Let the TV set know who’s boss. You may find that you’re much more refreshed and relaxed if you sit for an hour without TV’s stimulation than if you let a program suck you in.

This handout is a service of IDEA, the leading international membership association in the health and fitness industry, www.IDEAfit.com.

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