Self Care: What to do with your personal time

“You have to allow a certain amount of time in which you are doing nothing in order to have things occur to you, to let your mind think.”

– Mortimer Adler  

Silence…solitude…quiet…alone.

Are these words good or bad for you?  Do you feel attracted to silence or does silence bother you?

In our discussion about practicing self-care the first task is what to do with the time you carve out of your day.  This time is precious and you do not want to waste it.

Most people do not know how to relax, and you may not know either, so let’s explore.

I would like to ask you to experience being quiet in order to calm your mind.  But be forewarned: quieting yourself is not easy.  It will take practice.

Here’s how to do it: when you have your time for self-care, go to a comfortable place. Begin by focusing  on only one thing.  I’m practicing this right now by focusing on my writing of this article.  I’m becoming aware of my body, of my sensations, my thoughts.  I feel myself relax even while I write.  I’m asking you to begin by focusing as well.  Change will happen through learning the process.  Pay attention to what you are doing and focus completely on that one thing.

What happens next is very interesting.  Most people find that their thoughts begin to wander, and a common worry is “I’m not very good at focusing.” Relax, you simply allow your wandering mind to refocus on your object of attention.  Remember, this is an exercise on relaxing and focusing, so allow yourself time to learn the process.  Your mind will come back into focus gradually and naturally, without effort.  Simply continue to come back to focus on the task at hand.

You will most likely not get much farther than the focus step this first time.  Good for you.  You are beginning to relax and to learn the art of self-care.

You may discover that the process is tiring, especially if you are unaccustomed to focusing your mind.  Please, do not worry about this.  Allow yourself to rest from focusing if you become tired.  This is not meant to be exhausting! What we are working on is being able to easily and quickly allow problems and worries flow out of your mind and be replaced by thoughts more of your choosing.  After resting for a while, allow your mind to re-engage and focus on one thing.

One last suggestion for today: Enjoy the process!  Choose to be grateful that you’re able to do this exercise, and fully appreciate every aspect of the task. You’ll learn through the relaxation process that anything can be a calming experience, anything can be relaxing.

I’ll share more about self-care in my next post.

“Habits are the key to consistency. Not discipline.”

Leo Babauta

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