There are times when you feel rushed off your feet, in demand, never quite on top of things, and the idea of stopping, doing nothing, just relaxing is extremely attractive. In short, be more CAT. But sadly, it’s often not that simple.
As part of my 5 Day Kick Start the New You Challenge, my challengers are given the task of taking a Tea Break Meditation. Of sitting for 15 minutes and doing absolutely nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. No screens, books, sounds – simply sitting (cuppas allowed) and letting the mind rest. And I can safely say that of all the challenges from that week, this was the one most women found most difficult. How can sitting and doing nothing be so hard? It takes no particular physical effort, no intellectual skill, no preparation. Except it does.
So why is it so hard?
For many women, and especially those of us in mid-life, we have lots of pulls on our time. Family (young and old), jobs, friends, community and sometimes the Real You is lost in all the noise of life. Often the stresses are external but just as often they are internal, caused by our own values and expectations of ourselves. So, if you are forced to take some time to quieten the brain, it can seem really scary. You end up counting the minutes until you can get up and get on with things. But, why? I should point out that allowing yourself that 15 minutes of nothing is actually allowing yourself to spend one 96th of your day on yourself. One 96th! 15 of the 1440 minutes you have in a day. That’s all. Don’t you deserve that?
What are the benefits?
Sometimes we are afraid of the quiet because we’re worried painful thoughts will fill it. But what if this quiet time allowed you to notice and appreciate the wonderful parts of your life? Wouldn’t that be great? Simply doing nothing gives your brain a rest, gives it time to eventually filter out the busyness and leave space for you to think about what’s important to you. Your breathing will naturally slow and get deeper – essential for you physiologically and mentally – and your muscles get a chance to loosen and soften. Who wouldn’t want to release that huge knot of tension in their shoulders? It gives you time to remember that you are as important as all the other commitments in your life.
How to make it easier
Firstly, don’t “try” to relax – that’s a sure-fire way to create even more tension. Relaxation is a by-product of your environment, internal and external. So, in order to have the Tea Break Meditation you want there are a few things you need to do –
1Prepare. When will you do this? Schedule this in your diary. Choose a time when you can expect the least distractions – first thing in the morning or last thing at night? Lunchtime, mid- afternoon? However, don’t worry too much that it has to be done in complete silence if that seems an impossible dream. As you get better at it, you will be able to get the same effect perfectly well in a café, park, or on the bus. No need for complex yoga positions. Just sit.
2Train those around you. Depending on the age of those around you, explain how important this time is to you, how you’ll be a happier, calmer (and nicer?) person to be around. Write a “do not disturb” sign and put it up on the door, on the table, stick it on your forehead! – be firm about it. They may even want to experience it themselves.
3Have no expectations. You are not trying to achieve anything in this time. Give yourself permission to let up. Not everything has to have an outcome.
4Embrace the chaos. Your thoughts will probably wander all over the place. You’ll find yourself planning meals, re-running conversations in your head and mentally writing lists (and don’t stop half- way through and start writing that list. If it’s important, you’ll still remember it after 15 minutes). You may find yourself feeling sad or upset. It will pass. It doesn’t matter. Let thoughts go wherever.
5Do it every day. Yes, every day. For two reasons – firstly, it will become habit and it will become an essential element of your day that you look forward to, your gift to yourself. Often women leave themselves to last, not attending to their needs. And the truth is, you are doing yourself and your loved ones a disservice if you do. And secondly, you will get better at it. Those busy thoughts will quieten down and you will begin noticing things in your environment you never had chance to before. Who knows what amazing thoughts and revelations may come to you in this quiet time? How exciting !
And finally, when those thoughts of all the things you think you must do are buzzing about in your brain, remember, there are very few occasions in every- day life when leaving something for 15 minutes has a catastrophic effect. It will be OK, and it may even be much better.
Do you have any tips that work for you? Do you give yourself this time to just “be”? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Pop me an email or I’d love to see you on social media.