Stress Free Living, Part 3: Activity & Stillness
So we’ve talked about eliminating stress by cleaning up our diets. This is really one of the most effective steps you can take if you really mean it when you say you want to live a stress-free life. Now we’re going to add two more important and effective choices you can make, and they are opposite ends of the spectrum from one another. These two things are activity and silence.
Your body is made up of energy. So is the food you eat and so is every situation to which you are exposed. Energy that enters your body doesn’t just disappear. Energy cannot be unmade. It can only change forms.
You choose the sorts of energy that you allow to enter your body in ways you may not have even thought of. You choose it by the foods you eat, as we’ve already discussed. You choose it by what you watch on television, what books you read, what kind of people you surround yourself with, what you think about, what your hobbies are, etc, and we’ll talk about those things in an upcoming post.
But you also choose it by what you do, because the best way to transform energy is deliberately. We mustn’t just let the energy we take in become whatever it wants to. Instead, we get to decide what we want that energy to become. Activity is one of the ways we can do that. Instead of high blood pressure, fat, cholesterol, cancer, (all contributed to by stress) we can choose to transform the energy we imbibe into strength, into power, into lean muscle and dense strong bone and an empowered immune system. How? By activity.
When you use the energy you take in to move your body around, your body becomes stronger. All of the stressers that you take in every single day, can be channeled into motion, into a stronger, healthier body simply by expending an equal amount of energy (or more) into activity. Into motion. We call this transmutation of energy exercise, and it can take on many forms, from a daily walk, to a daily jog to a daily swim to a daily bicycle ride to a daily workout. But whatever form it takes, the key word is daily. You take energy in every day, and you need to expend energy every day as well. If you are serious about leading a stress free life, you will invest a set amount of time every single day to exercise, whether it’s playing with the dogs, paddling a kayak, or dancing around your living room.
If everyone exercised in their target heart rate zone for 30 measly minutes a day and ate a clean, healthy diet, our hospitals would be all but empty. 90% of patients in hospitals right now wouldn’t be there if they were at a healthy weight and living a healthy lifestyle. That’s a fact. Very few of us are actually sick because of a physical defect that we didn’t cause ourselves with our own behavior. A few are, but they are precious few. It’s time to take responsibility for our own well being and face the truth. We’re making ourselves sick, and we don’t need medicine anywhere near as much as we need to just start living a healthy lifestyle. It’s really that simple.
The polar opposite of exercise is also essential to our well being, and that is stillness. Absolute stillness, in body and in mind. The silencing of that endless mind chatter always swirling through our heads. A gentle disconnection from it, a pulling back into our higher selves. This is an act we call meditation and it’s not hard or complicated. You don’t need a guru to learn to do it.
Find yourself a nice instrumental piece of music. No vocals, as they are distracting. It can be any kind of music that speaks to you as long as it doesn’t wrap your brain up in it. Your mind needs to wander free, so the music, while pleasant, needs to function as white noise. It keeps the mind chatter quiet because that chatty part of your brain is busy noticing the music, leaving the real you, the higher you, free to commune with spirit. Recordings of nature sounds are also great to use for meditation. Waves crashing on the shore, birds singing, crickets chirping, all of these make great white noise.
Music is also great because you can choose (or piece together) a selection that’s exactly the length of time you want to spend in meditation, which keeps your busy mind from worrying that you’re taking too long or wondering when your timer bell is going to ping.
So here’s meditation in a few simple steps:
1. Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothes. Nothing binding. Be sure you’ll be warm enough, but not too warm.
2. Turn off the phones, TV, computer, etc, and go into a quiet room where you are unlikely to be interrupted.
3. Sit in whatever position is most comfortable for you and turn on your selection of white noise.
4. Inhale and exhale, slowly and naturally, relax your body and close your eyes.
5. When thoughts come flitting by, just let them keep on flitting. Don’t latch onto them, just notice them and let them keep on going. Pull your attention gently back to the feeling of your breath moving in and out of your nose and lungs. 6. Continue until your song ends, and then try to settle yourself back into the physical realm. Open your eyes. Get up when you feel ready.
7. Jot down any thoughts that floated by you that felt of particular interest. (Not the laundry list of things you should be doing, but anything deeper, more meaningful.) If nothing came to you that’s fine. The object is stillness, not deep revelations. It’s just that sometimes, when you silence the mind enough to hear it, Spirit (God/Goddess/Source/Higher Self) takes the opportunity to speak to you.