How often do you do nothing, absolutely nothing? When I ask people what they do to relax they will tell me: reading; watching TV; gardening; walking or going to the gym; or some other activity. Not very many people will say, "I sit in front of the fire and just watch the flames", or "I sit and listen to my body".
Doing nothing may be the most important thing you can do to improve your life. And here's how ...
1. It will improve your health
If you're sitting down doing nothing, your body will relax into itself: your muscles will ease and relax, your blood pressure will reduce and your heart rate will go down and your breathing rate will slow down. Your body will be more effective at doing it's repair and renewal function - blood flow will increase and contain more oxygen and that will feed the body's cells. And you'll probably find you sleep better too. Well, doesn't that all sounds pretty beneficial to good health. I mean, if you could improve your health just be doing nothing, why wouldn't you?
2. It will help you manage stress
Being relaxed is the antidote to pressure and stress, because you can't be relaxed and stressed at the same time. The more often you relax, the more you break the build-up of pressure and stress. When you are familiar with how it feels to relax, you will be much more sensitive to when you are not relaxed and much better able to stop stress before it begins - awareness is everything! And often the first signals that we are under too much pressure come from our body, so it's important to slow down sufficiently and listen to what our body has to say.
3. It will improve your mind
A busy mind is often inefficient because there's a lack of focus and too many things to think about at once. There may be many situations where multi-tasking is useful, but too much multi-tasking can lead to mental clutter and over-drive. It's like putting your foot flat to the floor when you're driving in third gear - you'll get a lot of revs but not a lot of speed! Allowing your mind to be still, even for a short while every day, will create a space in which things can sort themselves out. Give it a try, you might be surprised at the results - you may find yourself:
* re-prioritising - when you stop to think about it, those things that you thought were really important and urgent, turn out to be not important and not urgent (and that means they get dumped)
* uncovering unrealistic expectations - often, when we expect things to be a certain way we put a lot of energy into making them that way, whether or not that's a realistic thing to do. Accepting things as they are, releases a lot of energy that we can redirect to more useful areas.
* being more creative - you may suddenly find the solution to a problem. I once heard someone say that "creativity happens in the space between thoughts" and I think that's probably right.
* you are more aware of your mental processes - slowing down allows you to become more aware of your unconscious mental processes, both helpful and unhelpful. And once you know what you're doing, it's much easier to change it, or to do more of it, depending on what's most desirable.
So what if you find it difficult to do nothing? Well, you could try yoga or tai chi where the focus is very much on what is happening in your body, or maybe you could go for a treatment - some Reflexology, Indian Head Massage or Metamorphic Technique could help you be still and tune into your body.
Take time out for yourself today and every day.