Layman’s Handbook in life by Aidan Mc Nally.
“simple tools to change how we live”
Chapter 10 takes a look into relaxation. Who ever gets time for that stuff, right?
Here it is below, let me know what you think in comments.
Have a great September & thank you to all of you who have taken the time to share on social media and like and comment.
Many of us can have a hard time finding the time to relax and then when we finally get a moment to ourselves, we cannot even begin to relax as the moments have become few and far between. We do not know what to do with ourselves when we get some down time or alone time. What can we know about relaxing when it has become almost foreign to us. We do know that we can listen to some music or maybe you are reading this book right now as a form of relaxing. As here again based upon our many differences as humans there are several different levels to find some relaxation in.
When a week of work has left you feeling tired and even a little highly strung, finding the stress levels hard to turn off or slow down can be a difficult place to be when it comes to Friday evening. The weekend looming and a whole host of activities planned and all you have is Friday evening to unwind a little and take some time to try and relax. How can one just simply flip a switch and go from 9 to 5 go getter business person or Monday to Friday delivery driver to relaxed weekend mode? It is a great question isn’t it? Trying to find something that works for yourself can be difficult in our modern times. So many friends are always quick to tell us what we should try and how they find great relaxation in blah blah blah. I dare to ask you, do they really get relaxed though? They are indeed easy words to speak and people will tell you they are relaxed just so as to not have you pry into their real feelings. It’s all part of that mask we wear out in public again. It is normal and part of every day life for us all to wear the mask and as we mentioned earlier, not to want or just naturally have no desire to be our true own self out among the public. There are those of us who can find ways to relax though and it doesn’t matter to me if I am in public or at home all by myself. I will just mellow out if the setting is right, to be fair though, I didn’t just have that ability all by myself. It did take a little practice. I can recall being invited to go to a symphony one evening and yes it does sound a little out of the norm of things to do on a Saturday evening but I went along to check it out. I sat there in my chair listening to the music and before I knew it I was out cold. Well, not out cold exactly I suppose if I am to be honest, I was in a state of limbo so to speak. I can recall how I was unconscious to the world around me, the symphony Hall and all the people in it, I was involved with the music in some sedate way. It really was like magic. When It was finished it was as if I was waking up from a deep sleep and I was asking my friends, had I been snoring or anything? I felt like I had been asleep. I wasn’t asleep though I was in a trance and a complete relaxed state where only the music was happening for me in my mind and all around me. What I have since learned from this encounter was that it is possible to sink in or slip away with soft music even at home. You can try it for yourself and see will it work. Find a comfortable seat and close your eyes while allowing some music to play. Maybe pull a curtain or dim down some lights and just allow your body and mind to concentrate on the music only. Listen to the music, try and see if this can be something you can do for an hour on a Friday evening. It is like a form of meditation where becoming one with something allows the entire world to disappear for a small time and the entire mind, that being the feeling part and the thinking part and your physical self all joining together in sync to enjoy some moments all to yourself. Any good relaxation is always just on the edge of asleep and awake. No thoughts in the head and soft calm feelings from the gut, magically really.
There are those of us who might not be able to slow down the mind on just our first attempt and we may need a little practice at it. This is totally okay and keeping in mind also that there are no right or wrong ways to relax. It is a “thing” that is very much individual and for this reason it is worth trying out some of the stuff your friends will suggest to you along your journey in life. Just try em, if they do not work it is okay. Not everything that works for another will work for you. The fact you are willing to try suggest to me that you will find what level you are on and where your own relaxation remedy actually lies in life.
Going to the gym and working out can be a great way to finish the week off and my special time has always been in the swimming pool. My routine used to be to enter the gym and dive straight in to the pool. I would swim an uncounted number of lengths, most often until I can begin to hear my own heartbeat in my ears, that was my marker to slow it down. I would then roll on to my back and float along, kicking gently to propel myself down the lane and watching the ceiling of the pool house. I would use my hands to flap a little and keep my straight line and just chill. Having your ears under the water helps block out the other noises and floating aimlessly along the lane of the pool has been a great way to relax for me. There is something in the keeping my ears under the water and kind of forcing the brain to switch off due to less noise, I guess. The tiniest of little panic can occur when you have an instinctive feeling that the wall must be close and you are about to bang your head off of it. The panic is natural and not enough to bring about anything major but it does help me feel and be aware of myself. Floating in the water has another piece to it that I guess is something to do with the body becoming very relaxed and happy in a sense. Floating weightless eases stress and allows me to just be one with the element of water and thoughts from my mind can flow away as if to leak into the waters around me. I have found great benefit from swimming, plus it is a great way to be working out and keeping fit also. I will also admit that after a swim and a little time spent floating on my back I head for the sauna usually and once there I again focus on my breathing and allow myself to slip nicely into a state of relaxation. Another 15 to 30 minutes of being at one with only my breathing and allowing my body to completely turn off. The benefits of relaxing this way has brought great feeling to my entire mind. I always know when I am not in a good place to relax when I cannot slow the noise of my heart beat from my ears while floating or I cannot stand the heat of the sauna room, these are signs to me that I am not able to relax at those times and so I usually go and sit in the pool with my arms resting on the side and kick my legs slowly through the water to help tire them out a bit and then I will try again the sauna.
Swimming may not be your thing and I totally understand too, however if you are willing to try it, you may find some of the great relaxation values that I have found over the years.
There is nothing wrong with pampering ourselves a little bit every so often. Ways in which to do so can be as soothing as going shopping and buying ourselves some new bed sheets and pillows. The art of shopping itself can help bring about some feel good feelings. Just the simply act of buying something for ourselves can have a great, well not achievement but satisfaction attached to it. Buying ourselves a little treat, the relaxation side of it can be how we just wander around the shops in no particular order or on no particular schedule. When we buy ourself some nice new pillows and sheets there is a double bonus affect because when we go home and dress the bed and finally fall in to our nest to sleep, ah yes, this can be so rewarding. We can melt away again in a nice new hotel feel to our own bed. I recommend finding the highest thread count you can find for the sheets, you will be glad you did when you feel how soothing your nights sleep can be. This is just another form of how we can distract ourselves with an activity like shopping and take some relaxation from it. With again the double bonus of relaxing into nice new sheets.
Another I have found quite powerful is the spoiling ourselves in a different way, massage. Yes this my friends is a therapy designed and by it’s very own purpose a relaxation method. It can be a little expensive to find a good masseuse and it is hard to justify spending money on ourselves with new sheets and nights out at the symphony. Answer me this then, are you not worth it? Does all your work and hard weeks not make you feel you deserve to spoil yourself just a little? Try it and see. Find the best place you can for a massage and set out to enjoy it. Allow yourself to slip off into a nice dreamlike state of mind as the massage takes care of your muscles. Taking care of our muscles is a great way to give them a little thanks for doing our walking and carrying us around all over the place. If you think about it, we give very little thought about how much our body actually does for us. Yes we make some decisions to eat a bit better every now and again and to try and be nice to our body. Nothing is nicer than a long soothing massage. This would be another time of half falling asleep and just straight and simple relaxing. Although it might not be for everyone I do highly recommend it as it is a nice way to give something back to our body and we get to a relaxation state of mind by allowing the massage work for us so another double bonus right there. Isn’t it funny how we can spend money on many less or more like trivial things and when it comes to ourselves, spending money on an expensive massage seems to be too expensive? It is your body and we do not have any replacement ones so I can only call it money well spent.
I can remember one time where I went to a spa type hotel and it was all about relaxation. I looked at the menu for the treatments and options available for me for the weekend. Checked in on a Friday night and had a few snack type tapas for an evening snack. The room had a little self catering available so the next morning was about making up a light lunch before the spa treatments. What spa treatments did I choose? It was a location where there were natural springs all around the hotel because of volcanic waters and hot springs. I chose to have a mineral bath and a mud bath followed by a massage. The total time for the treatments were set to be about 2 or 2 and half hours. Seemed a short time considering I was staying for two nights. So after a light lunch and some time floating in the pools I headed for the treatments. I was taken and shown the baths and did the treatments and then the mud bath and off to a massage room. Let me just say that it was an absolutely fabulous experience and something everyone should do at least once a year. It is as if an entire layer of my skin was scrubbed off me or something I mean my arms after it felt like they were someone else’s, smooth and soft and like I had just had all new skin applied to me. My stomach felt great and my entire body and most importantly was relaxed. I do get it that it might not be for everyone but it is just another sort of relaxation remedy I found extremely useful. Having a mud bath was a new experience for me and it did feel a little weird at first but I can tell you honestly the weirdness didn’t last too long and the results afterwards were amazing.
It is important that we look after our body, mind and spirit if we are to take relaxing seriously. Many will say it is not easy and they never can find the time to do anything for themselves, then if this is the case, stop and slow everything down. Find room in your schedule to pencil in a few dates that you can whiz off to a spa and be pampered. You deserve it. Remembering of course that if we do not relax our body and we do not slow down our mind we are just forcing ourselves to move closer and closer to our grave where yes, we will end up anyway, but it will be nice to go there knowing we have been very nice to ourselves and our body.
As a man it is a different story to be heading off for spa days and taking time out of life for massages etc etc. I found that heading to a salon for men is a great way to pass a few hours. Get a hair cut and a beard trim is a nice soothing experience and if they have massage available then choose one every so often. Get a pedicure, allow someone touch your feet and cut your nails etc. These things are all great ways to recharge the batteries and formulas for a very successful week. There is nothing more powerful inside of ourselves than feeling “on”. This energy that comes out of us when we are at our most relaxed is almost something others can sense from us and they tend to stand back and almost like lead the way for us to continue on a very successful path in life. It is something we ooze when we are relaxed. Our happiness is so raw and natural that people are ready to lift us up to meet our goals. All of a sudden and for what seems like no apparent reason people are helping us. The road blocks of life just seem to shift out of the way and we can master anything. This is all very possible and very amazing to experience and feel. So when you are “on” you are ON!
I have given you some of the methods I use and why they are or were important to me. The key piece of it all has been peace & relaxation. Getting to a stage in our lives where relaxing is actually important. There are so many ways in which relaxing can help our bodies, the body needs some love and care and some mellow out time. It is through relaxing all of our organs and stuff inside can work just a little better and with so much more ease. Ease is a great word to think of right here. To take it easy would be an expression to suggest relax. There is a key element to the opposite of uneasy, to suggest at ease. I present to you another word which is worth consideration in regards to relaxing and why it is very important to us and our body, Disease, yup Dis~Ease. There are many readings and writings on disease and stress related illness that I hope you are taking note of the point I am making here. Disease, think of when you get a dripping nose or some flu type infection. Many will ask you if you are feeling run down, are you down and in a bad place emotionally right now? Bags under your eyes from not enough sleep perhaps? Sometimes we can get these little white blister type things inside of our mouths on the inside of our cheeks for example, they say it is a sign of being tired or run down. It is in these times that other types of infections seem to creep in and grab a hold of our bodies. This marks the importance of relaxing and taking care of ourselves. In order to help begin on a journey of finding ways to relax a super key element is to work on our own sleep pattern. It is very important to ensure we are getting enough sleep and even though that late night snack or an evening meal which is a little too late in the evening, even though it seems like a great idea, it is wise not to eat too heavily before bedtime as our body will continue working on processing everything we just ate while we sleep. We may wake up the next day and feel like we just got no value from our sleep. This can lead to a down type of day just from simple tiredness, which then in turn can bring about some infection in our body.
As an alternate to this of course is the feeling good and being up beat and fresh for any day. Having had plenty of sleep and feeling good, it makes sense that if our body is easily run down by lack of sleep or lack of relaxing then it is very simple to make the connection to our mental state of mind and how clear our own head is. When we are lacking in sleep we can present physical ailments like the white blisters inside of our mouth. Another tell tale sign of this is tiny little white pimple type things that can appear just below our eyelids. These little white pimples are tiny and can be hard to notice but again a sign. All this being tiny signs of the possible onset of something worse can be due to lack of sleep.
When we are emotionally drained and lacking in ability to feel our emotions it is also possible to become down and is another time when disease and infection can creep into our life. So emotional health is as important as physical. When we are avoiding our own feelings it is possible to become constipated even, this type of physical lack of system working can again bring about disease inside of our body and so it shows us how important emotional health is too.
Relaxing plays a massive part in how we develop and continue in our lives. The physical benefits are massive and I suppose the obvious “go to guy” when we think of the benefits of relaxation. Where we may forget to consider is our emotional health as well.
The benefits of relaxation can be equally important to our mental health also.
Important for physical health. Avoid disease.
Important for our emotional health. Avoid disease.
Important for our mental health. Avoid disease.
Three very key reasons to take a serious look at relaxing more in your life time.
We can pamper our body and feel really well. A good massage can help relieve any constipation even just like we do when we are dealing with a new born baby and we can massage their little tummy to help them pass what they need to do.
We can soak ourselves in the bath tub with awesome music playing or attend the symphony and be one with the music, this can release emotions from our body and help from being backed up so to speak and help us maintain an emotional and physical health balance inside of ourselves and in our life.
So now it only stands to reason by process of association of relaxing and being at ease versus the process of being not at ease and the possibility for infection from disease. It is then very important we give some thought to mental health as well. Freeing our mind up to allow us the moments we need to feel and the moments that we need to feel physically well too. Seeking out a balance where it would allow us to feel good, feel at ease and feel super fabulous in our own (new) skin. All these are wonderful but what if we cannot slow down our mind long enough to allow ourselves slip off into the music. What if the steam room at the gym is not relaxing to us and what if the mud baths or the shopping and sleeping in new sheets are just not enough and not allowing us to chill and relax? Why are they not allowing us to do, what is keeping us from half falling asleep during an expensive massage? Our mind
Yes our mind can prevent us enjoying any exercise we might try as relaxation. So we move from one thing a friend suggests to the next and never find any value out of any of them, we scroll the Internet for relaxation ideas and every time we try one of them we just never seem to grasp the concept or the feeling of being at ease. The mind, our head, our mental health is preventing us from taking it easy. Our thoughts will not slow down for long enough to give us a chance.
What can we do about that?
Something I have tried for many years now and I have found it to be very good. I do not need music and I do not need a weekend getaway to a spa resort either. Nope, I need to breathe. I need to allow my breathing be so focused that the only thing on my mind or in my feelings is the here and now of my breathing. When we breathe deeply and take some time to allow our mind to clear we can really begin to feel the benefits of our relaxation. We can begin to sleep more and much better too. Our breathing is the key or a key to trigger everything to work for us. I know it sounds funny when you attend a class or a talk of any kind and the speaker or teacher says, “now I would like you all to take in a deep breath & release”. Something so simple as our own breathing can bring our mind down from all kinds of dramas and circumstances we have been concocting inside of our minds. Inside of the mental part of our mind, we can stay totally focused on 4000 thoughts a second inside of our head and we will find it very hard to gain benefit of any form or relaxation. I have tried the pampering and the shopping and massages and the music. The single thing that I have found most beneficial to all departments was to train myself to breathe. The breathing is slow and deep breaths in and exhale the same. We can train ourselves to just breathe. Nothing more, just breathe. It is a nice practice to train ourselves in to and a great way to become mindful of ourselves in all aspects of our mind. The physical element of breathing is massive and beyond what we might think. Scientifically our breathing is helping to bring in new oxygen which in turn goes to our muscles and helps them work. The breath we take in helps fill our lungs and then the lungs distribute blood with oxygen all around our body. Practicing our breathing is a difficult enough one to get a handle on and yet we do it all day every day. What is the difference if we are breathing every day and we are still stressed and always ill?
I say, try breathing and only breathing. Try breathing for 20 minutes, in and out slowly. Sometimes as I breathe in I will tense up some of my muscles, starting down at my toes and through my feet and on up to my legs and so on and so forth. It is through this time while breathing I will tell myself in my mind that as I breathe in I am delivering new oxygen to my lungs. As I think the thought I can feel the air filling up my chest area as I release the breath and exhale I relax my muscles and allow the exhale to carry out all the toxic stuff in my life or what may feel like a pain or two inside of my body. I can try to bring myself to a relaxed state by just focusing on my breathing. I focus on how it feels coming in to my body and I also focus on the “crap” that occurs when I exhale.
If we can slow down our breathing to a snails pace we can begin to feel. There is nothing more satisfying that feeling relaxed through our own breathing and seeing as you pointed out earlier of how we are breathing all of the time, I would say that yes we are breathing but are we taking deep breaths ad enjoying each one of them is it possible that right in the middle of a breathing exercise that we may start to feel emotions begin to slow as we relax each muscle as we exhale. I find that getting a massage at a spa may not help my mental health. I find that emotionally involved with music might feel good but not allow my mind to clear and relax.
However I find that breathing and practicing my breathing actually helps balance all three. Sometimes as I do my breathing I find all my muscles getting a little break and feeling better. I often times also feel well and feel new feelings come up and float away again while I focus on breathing. These connections are amazing really. If we can by combining all three stimulants together and spend a day at the spa getting pampered and we find ourselves too stressed for the sauna, then perhaps a breathing exercise will be the simplest one to achieve and help align our feelings with our thoughts and it is then that we can relax in any of the methods I have used in the past, meditative breathing is something we can all do. There are no membership forms to sign and no money out from the bank either, not expensive at all, just find some quiet time to yourself in a quiet place and practice breathing.
If we practice deep breathing exercises over a twenty minute period we can begin to form a habit inside of our mind and body that will help us become calm & allow our mind to clear. When we have developed the habit we can cut our times shorter if needs be and we can grab five minutes here and there cat hing a few deep breaths to help calm us at any given time in our day.
When we have mastered the habit and developed it within ourselves, we can then even get to two or three deep breaths at any time we feel our mind becoming a little rushed or cloudy. We can bring a pause to our life for up to one minute which can help relax us immediately. How can we go from majorly stressed or over worked mind to just one minute of breathing to calm ourselves? With practice is how we do it. We can train our entire mind and every time we stop for a pause and re align ourselves we can reap the benefits. It is the least expensive method of relaxation we can ever sign up for and in my own experience the most effective.
I am totally not saying we should not try a few of the more expensive treats for ourselves from time to time but the simplistic is so natural, cheap and amazingly, it works.
And that was chapter 10 of Layman’s Handbook in life by Aidan Mc Nally.
Thank you for reading and by all means please do, SHARE/LIKE/COMMENT