Monday, October 24, 2005

Slow Down and Unwind

A fast-paced lifestyle can wreak havoc on your spiritual condition. We live in an age of contant stimulation, where you are bombarded with information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. While there is nothing wrong with being informed, constant bombardment can leave you reeling. From hurricane coverage to The War on Terrorism, one can get obsessed with finding out what's happening.

The practice of mindfulness, made popular by Buddhist philosophy, can help ease tension. When practiced daily, it can also shapren one's focus and increase awareness.

Try the following to help unwind after an exciting day:

1. Deep Relaxation. Doctors have started to realize the benefits of a daily relaxation routine on physical health as well as mental stability. Many prefer to practice this at bedtime. To begin, lay down comfortably, in loose clothing. Breathe in deeply, while expanding your stomach. When you breathe out, your stomach should deflate like a balloon. Bring your focus to each part of your body, starting at either the top of your head or your toes. Tense each muscle for 2-10 seconds, then relax it to help keep focused. This usually takes about 15-20 minutes.

2. Conscious Breathing. The practice of conscious breathing is extremely popular, and can be combined with other exercises to help calm the mind and body. Sit comfortably, and place your right hand on your stomach. As you breathe in, your stomach should expand like a balloon. The opposite occurs when breathing out. Repeat for 2-5 minutes. This can be done anytime to relieve tension.

3. Sitting Meditation. This involves the practice of conscious breathing combined with focusing the mind. Many people use special props, such as incense, scented oils, and/or candles. Sitting meditation is done in the dark, while breathing deeply. In the beginning, you may allow your mind to wander for a couple of minutes before bringing it to focus. Some like to use a certain sentence to bring them down into the meditative state. One of the most popular methods is to bring your attention to your breathing. There are many books, classes, and guided meditations available on CD.

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