Working Hard at Resting by Mark Michniak
Sometimes it is A LOT of work to rest! As someone who always feels like I have to be doing something, sitting down for a few minutes and doing nothing often feels awkward. Maybe you can relate?!
My family and I just got back from a 12-day vacation. We had so much fun and it was hard to come back home. We had a lot of busy time doing fun things and many moments with downtime to do nothing. The first couple of days I have to admit, though, it took some time to get use to being off of my normal routine and to not have things to do. There is always work which keeps most people busy all day and then there is my usual life outside of work which includes driving kids places, exercising, and watching tv in the evening with my wife, to name a few. My normal way of daily life gets thrown for a big curve on vacation and as a person of daily rituals, it is a very different feeling to abandon those rituals for the unusual and unexpected.
Even my normal routine aside, I sometimes felt on our trip I had to force myself to sit and relax or rest in our room when there was down time and nothing to do! At home I may have a list of things that need to be done, but on vacation, there are not things that need to be done and only things I want to get done. I would lay on our bed or sit on our balcony and when my mind wondered to things back home, I had to consciously direct my mind back to the moment and relax my brain. Closing my eyes and blanking my mind of all that was swirling around up there was a great exercise to train myself to relax and free myself of that need to be thinking about something or doing something. Some people refer to this as meditation and whatever you call it, it was needed.
I have heard it said that you have to do something 21 times to form a new habit. Needless to say, it didn’t just happen for me to suddenly relax and rest during our trip. Over and over again throughout the trip and I had to remind myself to rest and relax and let-go of things I could not control. I had to keep telling myself that there is nothing wrong with a good rest and that it was going to help me enjoy the trip more if I did rest. It could be in the morning when I first woke-up, during the day when we were busy, or even at night, but that repeated behavior of consciously telling myself it was ok to rest kept turning through my head.
Before long, my practice and work at rest did become less work and more natural. I felt my mind ease when the prospect of doing nothing came up and I could even physically feel my body relax! My martial arts instructor use to say “train the mind and the body will follow”. Some very wise words because as I mentally began to relax, so did my body.
I look back at our vacation and appreciate all of the time we had together as a family. We did some very fun things and got to spend quality time together. It is fair to say that my simple practice of learning to relax further helped me enjoy the trip and made my trip one of the most restful I have ever taken!
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