One cold evening, as I sat relaxed sipping a warm cup of tea, I experienced a nice friendly feeling – a sense of pristine calmness and appreciation of a divine and beautiful moment.
And so just this small incident, got me thinking about our present day lives, which has come to be so dominated by the machine centered demands of the day. We don’t run technology any more. In fact, it is technology that is running us. We are controlled by it 24/7. Having this immense need to be connected to the world outside us, we are constantly checking on our messages, emails, and other updates. Even if we do get some free time our thoughts keep us occupied, planning for the next thing to do.
In our busy run for the day, we have lost touch with our true friend – that quiet voice within us. Instead, we find security in following a monotonous routine with no true joy of living out the day. Sometimes we should just remember to pause and be kind to ourselves.
Evidence based research suggests that taking frequent short breaks, at timely intervals, can be highly restorative. The key is to completely disengage from the current work at hand. It is advisable to pick activities of pleasure rather than a chore from your to-do list. Investing in mindful strategic breaks (even for a few minutes) can help renew ourselves in magical ways.
Some ideas to help you get on a ritual for such strategic breaks may include taking a quick power nap, climbing the stairs or doing some stretching exercises. Having a healthy conversation with a friend or colleague can be quite rejuvenating too. Enjoying a nice walk while appreciating nature can boost your mood and lift your spirits in a great way. Of course, meditating and taking short (but mindful) breaths is another wonderfully instant remedy to daily stresses. So, too, are kind, heartfelt gestures such as thanking someone for their help or checking up on your friends or family will help you feel much happier and more confident. Certainly, any activity that truly interests you and that you are passionate about like dancing, listening to music, writing, cooking, painting, reading or just learning a new skill can be quite nourishing.
It’s not surprising that our minds and bodies need periodic breaks throughout the day to continue to work efficiently. We humans cannot continue to keep trying to operate like mindless, tireless machines. Trying to act like machines is the main reason why mental and physical fatigue sets in — why we get “stressed out.” Stress may exhibit itself in diseases of the mind, most notably: depression, anxiety, and irritability, or through diseases of the body like obesity, heart problems, and high blood pressure. So, to keep our minds and bodies balanced and energized requires regular refreshing breaks wherein we can fully disconnect from all of the intensely exhaustive tasks life throws at us.
And Wah-Lah! When we return to our daily routine we are returning rejuvenated — with a renewed openness to handle challenges. Now, there will be more positivity in our thinking and we will experience more happiness in what we are presently doing. By having detached ourselves earlier we can now be truly engaged in every passing moment!
And, we will be more motivated to do something good at all times, too. By being more thoughtful, and connected to all our interactions, we will display a feeling of gratitude for everything around us. We will find more creative and loving ways to handle life’s ups and downs. There will be a sense of deep satisfaction and joy as we go through our day. But best of all, negative thoughts will not cloud our precious moments.
Finally, of the many ways in cultivating kindness within ourselves – taking the time to enjoy meaningful intervals of rest in the midst of our hectic lifestyle will be doubly enriching, and we will naturally want to extend this kindness to others.
As Pema Chödrön, famous author and American Buddhist nun puts it, “Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves”.
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