Monday, October 29, 2012
You’ve got mail... but you don’t have to read it right away
When I was in college in the ’70s I learned transcendental meditation. Everyone was doing it. After all, it was stressful being 18 years old, far away from home, holding down a part-time job all while struggling to succeed in a rigorous nursing course.
I practiced my meditation twice a day for 20 minutes and found it helped to keep me calm and centered. In those days, mail came once a day and periods of intense study and concentration might be interrupted once an hour by a ringing phone or a visitor's knock.
We're living in a different world today. Author Mike Bechtle describes daily life today "like standing in a hurricane." Cell phones make us accessible 24/7. Mail comes electronically, sometimes several times a minute, signaling its arrival with a chime or a ping from our smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Texting, tweeting, and social media — we're surrounded. "What used to be a gentle breeze has turned into a Category 5 storm" Bechtle says.
What is the solution aside from going to live in a cave with no Internet connection? Maybe we had it right in the ’70s. One simple and free solution is to practice a basic form of meditation every day. Anyone can do it.
• Simply find a quiet, peaceful place and sit on a comfortable chair or on a carpeted floor, sitting upright with your spine straight. (If you have young children, make sure someone is watching them, and if they are older, make sure they do not interrupt you except in an emergency.)
• Close your eyes and think of a pleasant place. Concentrate on that location and visualize yourself in that place. If your mind starts to wander, bring yourself back to that peaceful, serene location.
• Choose a pleasant, positive word like “onward” or “hopeful” or even “peaceful.” As you visualize yourself in that serene place, repeat the word slowly.
• Take deep breaths and exhale completely.
• After about 15 – 20 minutes (or when you hear the sirens getting closer) open your eyes and resume your day.
LeAnn Thieman, a nurse and motivational speaker, has a similar suggestion. She advises us: “Four times a day, breathe! For 15 minutes, 3-4 times a day, breathe slow, deep and easy to release stress, tension and endorphins.”
Practicing one of these stress relief measures will result in a healthier and happier you. And everyone deserves that. When your life has even short periods of balance and calm each day, you will be in a better place to care for yourself and others.
Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org.