Have you ever thought about meditation or been told to relax? I went through both, and it took some discipline for me to start. Here is what I finally worked out after some coaching. I go out on the deck in the morning, weather permitting, and watch the sunrise. Take a moment and allow your heart to open, to become receptive. The bottom line, relax and find a comfortable chair where it is quiet. I like to sit on my deck in the early morning with my coffee and our Sheltie. Now, look into three of your senses and name three things that you notice. In other words, name three things you’re seeing, smelling, tasting, feeling, or hearing. I usually select smell, feel, and hear. My taster is busy with my coffee and perhaps an English muffin. You select the three you like.
I do my three things for hearing, feeling, and smell. I hear the wind in the trees, morning traffic, a bird chirping. I feel the wind on my face, the cold chair on my bottom, and the deck on my feet. I smell bacon cooking, coffee brewing, and the garden. At this point, I can do it again with more detail. The wind feels cold, or the deck feels rough. The purpose of this exercise is to distract your mind from whatever is causing you to be anxious.
It does not take long to clear my mind from today’s worries. After my three questions, I don’t give myself much time to get back into the worrying; instead, I announce that I am here and listen. This was the hardest part for me because I was just too logical. Who was I talking to? After a lot of thought and trials, I decided it didn’t really matter, just open my mind and listen. Perhaps it was my mind talking or some supernatural source, who cares. Once I got to this point, the next hurdle was my desire to interpret everything. Again, who cares. Instead, just listen. After a while, I started to ask questions. Ask yourself this question, allowing the answer to come naturally: What do I need? Expect the answer to be something like the need to be connected, loved, peaceful, or free. If this stirred up any anxiety, I go back to my calming questions: what did I smell, feel, or hear? Then I listen for the answer to my question.
Most of us have difficulty focusing our attention. I believe that we can’t focus on multiple things at once. So, when I’m thinking about an email response, it is difficult for me to listen, especially when what I hear is annoying or nonsensical babble. There I go with the judgments. I had to set a clear intention to be a better listener. I would catch myself getting lost in thoughts while I should be listening. Listening means to stop making judgments and forming responses before the message is completed. It takes some practice.
Now consider a second question: What do I need to hear from others? Words that we would like to hear are often what we would like to have in our life. Get ready to listen again. In other words, be patient and don’t judge. If you heard that you need kindness, to belong, or more peace in your life, maybe the next thought will be: May I begin to be kind to myself. Don’t be surprised if you hear about the needs of others. The purpose of the questions is just to get the conversation going.
I spent a long time fighting this idea of relaxing because I wanted to be in control. Many months went by before I decided to get over it and just listen. In my logical world, I decided that spending a few minutes could not hurt. What I discovered was kind of amazing. I am not going to claim any miracles, but I will stand by my amazing comment. I solved problems I had been working on for a long time. I decided to call people that immediately said I was just thinking of you. I offered help to people that later said they had been worried about something for a long time. After my first year, I concluded that we are more connected than we want to admit and that we have more abilities than we use. Even if nothing amazing happens, I feel more relaxed. The whole exercise takes 30 minutes, and I get some needed fresh air, and our Sheltie gets a piece of my muffin.