Valerie's Writing & Photography

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The Greatest Gift

Sometimes being alone is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.

Are you one of those people who absolutely relish being alone? Or does the mere thought of it make you feel completely uncomfortable?

In our society we are conditioned to doing things quickly, staying busy and being constantly connected. While all these are good and serve a purpose, they are the cause and foundation for underlying stress in many people. Oddly enough-many of those same people will stress even more at the mere thought of having to spend time alone for any period of time and perhaps (gulp!) sitting quietly, doing nothing but focusing on themselves.

Allow me to share with you the following insight-doing the above-you know, meditating-for a mere 15 minutes a day-is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. It’s been proven that you will feel the results after a mere seven days. Seven! In a world where most look for instant gratification, that’s not bad!

Now, I realize that I am asking a lot, but this is an amazing, free gift that you can give yourself and you will benefit in every area of your life.

I often wonder what the fear is that people have about slowing down and stopping for a few minutes a day just to ‘be”. I suspect that the answer to that is different for each of us.

For some, we may be afraid to face what we find there. What are we blocking out or keeping deeply buried within each day as we run about, so seemingly busy? For others, it may be a fear of feeling unproductive. “How can I sit still and just “be”, when I have so much to do?” Many of my clients speak of not being able to make space in their daily schedule for what they call downtime. I say, in life, there is no such thing as “downtime”. It is all “uptime”. Why is it that when we take time for ourselves, it suddenly becomes “downtime”? Are we not our most important asset?

You take care of your home and your car, because they are important assets that you have something invested in. Let me ask you this, what do you have invested in yourself? How important are you in your day to day life? If you did not take care of your car, and keep it in top running shape, what areas of your life would suffer? Likewise, if you do not take care of yourself, how many areas of your life would be affected? Wouldn’t your home life, family and career be affected, to say the least? So, if taking care of your home and car isn’t considered “downtime”, then why is taking care of yourself “downtime”?

All right, back to the concept of quiet time alone and meditation.

Now we know that taking time for ourselves is not downtime, the first thing to realize is that meditation does not have to be complex, a many people think. Granted there are many kinds of meditation, some more complex than others, but for now, a simple meditation will give you all the benefit you need. All you have to do is a simple practice that allows you to just “be” and give your over stressed mind a chance to regroup and slow down a bit.

First of all, find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted for a few minutes. Preferably in the morning though you may do this in the evening as well, or at any point in the day when you have a chance and want to refresh yourself a bit. Starting with your feet and working your way upward, focus on relaxing each part of your body. Just picture your muscles letting all tension just melt off. When you have done this process on each part of your body, just relax your mind and breathe deeply. Now put the focus on your breath. Just notice each deep breath in and each deep breath out. If any other thoughts come into your mind, just allow them to come and go, without clinging to them. Rest assured, the thoughts will most certainly come, but the trick lies in acknowledging their presence and then just letting them go as quickly as they came.

With time and practice, the thoughts will come less and less. Be gentle with yourself for thoughts inviting themselves into your mind are as normal and natural as breathing.

After fifteen minutes or so, gently do some stretches to refresh your body and then see how you feel. You will most likely see that you feel more relaxed, centered and refreshed.

I challenge you to give yourself the gift of time alone and to begin to regard this time as important self-maintenance on your most valuable asset-YOU!

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