Stop, sit and think

Although I do not meditate, some of the most relaxed people I know do. When I have asked them how they think they benefit from it, almost all of them say it is as much the chance to have quiet time as anything. It is often this quiet time that is sacrificed as we attempt to do everything we have to during the day. So we often forget how to stop and simply be quiet. Our bodies become used to adrenalin and activity, never properly relaxing even when we would like to.

In the middle of a summer’s day I allowed myself to take a walk in a large park. It was lunchtime, and people had come out of their offices to take advantage of the sunshine. The great majority of these were still animated and busy, moving around or talking to friends, but every now and then I -would see someone who was sitting doing absolutely nothing — just sitting quite still and obviously concentrating on relaxing, breathing deeply with their eyes closed and completely oblivious to all around them. After several minutes of this they opened their eyes, focused on the world around them and went back to work. Some may have been meditating, others simply thinking. However, they were all doing the same thing to lower their stress – stopping and relaxing.

Similar opportunities arise when you find yourself walking past an open church. If you can, take five minutes to go in and sit down. Listen to the peace and quiet and compare this with how noisy and rushed you are during the rest of your day. Think about nothing else except how you feel — concentrate on relaxing, and make a mental picture of your stress dissolving. The next time you feel overstretched, remember this quiet time and try to recreate it wherever you are – at your desk, on a train or lying awake in bed.

I look after a sprightly 87-year-old woman who goes to church but is not religious in any way. She makes a point of finding ten minutes at some point in every day to stop, sit and think about relaxing. In her case she feels a church provides the quiet and solitude that helps her, but if she cannot leave her house, she still takes her ten-minute silence. She has been doing this for decades, and swears it is the secret of her healthy life. Although I cannot prove it, I think she is right, as time spent in relaxation is always quality time.

Our lives are so busy that we forget to reflect on the past day, never mind the last week or year. Next time you walk past an open church, go in and sit quietly for five minutes. Store this feeling for times of stress, to help you think more clearly.

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