We talk about a lot of things when we speak about becoming healthier, more balanced. Eating a nutritious varied diet, daily meditation, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep are among the most obvious points that come up in my discussions with patients. However, while many of us are pursuing a healthier lifestyle, we often forget to make time for fun and relaxation. While I personally think of exercise as fun, I realize that not everyone feels that way.
Fun can be described as engaging in anything that gives you joy, pleasure and happiness. Making time for laughter, creativity and play stimulates the “feel good” hormones in our brains, allowing us to feel more relaxed.
We all have something we are good at and enjoy doing. Choose a fun and relaxing activity – not sexual in nature – which makes you feel the very best of who you are. It could be as simple as a beach walk, a hike, or making time to see a movie. Any activity that takes you away from your routine and makes you happy is a wonderful way to incorporate fun and relaxation into your life.
During our busy and active lives, we often forget to “stop and smell the roses.“
Start a new practice – say “Yes” to fun.
Another recommended way to increase your enjoyment quota is to make time to give to others. By stepping out of ourselves and into our community, we create another type of balance. The opportunities and ideas to give back in charitable ways are endless. As you give to others in both small and big ways, you will observe a shift. Life will open up, both internally and externally, in the world around you. By giving of yourself, you create a constant energy current that ebbs and flows to others. This energy will feed you creatively, mentally and spiritually. I have yet to meet a person who does not feel good after helping others.
Each and every day, upon waking or before sleep, take a few moments and feel gratitude for the life you lead and for the people in your life. Allow that gratitude to wash over you. By doing this, you create a rich past and cultivate a rewarding tomorrow.
This may be an ideal time to begin a meditation practice. Give yourself permission to relax totally and quiet your mind. Here is a technique I use with my patients:
Begin by just closing your eyes. Relax the muscles around your eyes, face, and jaw. Relax your stomach, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes. This feeling is akin to floating on a raft. Slightly open your jaw and relax your mouth. Breathe slowly, feeling your breath begin to fill up your belly as if you were filling a beach ball. When you have filled up your belly to your point of comfort, using even slow breaths, exhale slowly and deeply, allowing your stomach and solar plexus to flatten. Inhale again, slowly filling up with your breath, filling that ball, then exhale deeply. Allow all of this breathing action to happen in slow motion. With the inhalation, envision deep peace and serenity. With the exhalation, feel all tension leaving your body along with any fear, anxiety, sadness, and confusion.
Continue this breathing cycle until you feel yourself begin to relax from your head to your toes. You may find yourself drifting off to sleep and that’s okay. If you go back to your thoughts, allow yourself to just watch them float away like logs going down a stream. Using long and languid breaths, continue to deeply inhale and then deeply exhale. Some find that repeating a mantra or empowering phrase in the mind’s eye helps to quiet the wandering mind. Listening to soft music or a hypnotherapy recording are other ways to help relaxation if you have trouble quieting your mind.
Daily meditation (from 15-25 min) can be very helpful in the cultivation of a more relaxed and open approach to your daily life as well. There are various ways to meditate. Start slowly working into a daily meditation practice. Remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so don’t worry if you are doing it correctly or sitting in the right position. Just begin now. Right where you are. Answers to cloudy questions about your life tend to become clearer with a committed ongoing meditation practice; one’s pathway begins to unfold from a newfound space. You can look forward to an inward calmness and sense of happiness from a regular practice.
If you can’t genuinely feel gratitude for your life, you may set about to create a new path – one that you can honestly feel good about, one that truly feeds you with creativity, fulfillment, joy, laughter, sexuality, wisdom, and spiritual growth.
Imagine building a life that encourages you to want to jump out of bed in the morning to start enjoying yourself and sharing your joy with others. As you practice this daily ‘attitude of gratitude’ – along with an ongoing meditation practice – you will notice that your life not only becomes more enjoyable and fun, but it becomes easier to enjoy each and every moment for what it is, right here, right now.
Sheri Laine, L.Ac, is a Diplomate of Acupuncture and the president of Eastern Medical Arts. She is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and nutritionist, with a focus on Integrative Lifestyle Medicine. Sheri is a frequent speaker at national conferences, an author, blogger and columnist for Counselor magazine. Visit hr at www.BalncedEnerQi.com. Her new book, Living the EnerQi Connection is available at Amazon.com or www.hcibooks.com