The Importance Of Mindful Relaxation
While we all scurry around leading busy lives, it can feel lazy to take time for ourselves. However, mindful relaxation provides tangible benefits. Not only does slowing down and practicing self-care recharge our batteries and empower greater creativity, but it encourages mindfulness. Mindfulness is a state of conscious awareness that enables humans to make better decisions, act in ways that honor their truest selves, and send waves of positivity into the world.
That’s not just some new-age mumbo jumbo. Let’s engage in a practical review of mindfulness and mindful relaxation and explore how it benefits us individually and society at large. By the end of this article, we hope you’ll give yourself permission to unwind because you understand the actual benefits of doing so.
Mindful Relaxation: What Is It?
Because we want to give you some real details about mindful relaxation techniques, we’re glossing over talking about mindfulness itself. If you want to learn more about what mindfulness is and where it comes from, open that link before you come back here.
If you’re read that article already or feel confident that you understand mindfulness, we can get down to business.
So what does it mean to relax mindfully? Why is that something we should do?
According to the Mayo Clinic:
Relaxation techniques are a great way to help with stress management. Relaxation isn’t only about peace of mind or enjoying a hobby. Relaxation is a process that decreases the effects of stress on your mind and body. Relaxation techniques can help you cope with everyday stress and with stress related to various health problems, such as heart disease and pain.
Assuming this is true, which we can safely assume based on the Mayo Clinic’s reputation, lowering our stress is good for us physically and mentally. If you want more data about how stress affects our bodies and minds, The American Psychological Association compiled an article about how both short term and chronic stress creates physical and mental issues.
At this point, we accept that relaxing isn’t lazy, it’s good for us. Maybe you also agree that mindfulness is a beneficial technique. It lowers stress and can help us achieve a healthier mental state. How do we combine mindfulness and relaxation?
Mindful Relaxation Techniques: Mantras
Let’s be honest here, you’ll probably feel silly the first few times that you do this. You may even stop doing it for months, coming back to it only in a time of great need. But if you give it a chance, we believe this tool can really help you relax and program your mind for the better.
In order to mantra, you’ll need a quiet and secluded place where you can get into a comfortable physical position. Many people recline but find what feels best for you. Keep your sessions short, between 5 – 30 minutes.
Choose a phrase or series of phrases that make you feel good, or remind you of something you’d like to experience or attain. It’s good advice to start very general and get more specific as you continue, either within the same session or in subsequent sessions.
Speak to yourself with present, direct language.
“I make great decisions informed by my direct experience and self-awareness,” or “I possess all the tools necessary to achieve ______.” Repeat this a few times while you breathe in and out. If you can incorporate rhythmic breathing, that’s great. If not, don’t worry too much about that.
To get more specific, try something like “My experience-informed decisions unlock unlimited earning potential for me,” or “My experience gives me the confidence in my own value to ask for a promotion at work.”
Another example could be, “I always know where all of my things are.” Repeat that several times. Move on to, “I am full of gratitude because I am in control of myself and my surroundings.” After repeating this several times, try, “When I encounter something I cannot control, I can let it go and see another possibility.”
This will actually help you stop losing your keys. It sounds crazy, but it helps!
Mindful Relaxation With Mantras: Reframing Your Internal Dialogue
In some ways, your mantras allow you to play a word game with yourself. Playing this positive, direct, forward-moving word game forces you to improve your internal dialogue for the period of time you’re mantra-ing. You may be shocked at how much more positive it makes you in general.
If you are intimidated about writing your own mantras, there are videos on YouTube where other people have recorded mantra meditations for you. Similarly, if you aren’t interested in programming your mind on a topic, you can mantra a simple sound or word. You’ll find plenty of information about this online.
How Does This Relax You?
As you sit or recline, repeating these uplifting and empowering phrases, you’ll have your eyes closed and be breathing deeply. Maybe you’ll have some instrumental music on in the background. You are creating a relaxing state and slowing down your breathing and heart rate.
As you focus on your own words, you’ll stop thinking about other things. You can push aside repetitive, anxious thoughts for a while. You can gain clarity through the peace this gives you. Your body itself is lulled by the breathing, opportunity to do ‘nothing’ for a few minutes, and the repetition of a phrase or phrases.
It’s really all about focusing on something that provokes no anxiety or stimulation so you can allow your body and mind to relax naturally.
Everyday Mindfulness Techniques: Chop Wood, Carry Water
Let’s borrow a Zen technique now in case mantras aren’t for you. You can practice mindful meditation while you go about menial tasks during your day.
My daily activities are not unusual,
I’m just naturally in harmony with them.
Grasping nothing, discarding nothing.
In every place there’s no hindrance, no conflict.
My supernatural power and marvelous activity:
Drawing water and chopping wood. – Attributed to Layman Pang
Another great way to conceptualize this is through this phrase:
The novice says to the master, ‘What does one do before enlightenment?’
‘Chop wood. Carry water,’ replies the master.
The novice asks, ‘What, then, does one do after enlightenment?’
‘Chop wood. Carry water.’
Acts like brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, taking a walk, and even ironing all lend themselves well to a little mindful relaxation. You’re still doing something, so your body isn’t totally relaxed. However, you are in a state of focus on the menial, repetitive task you’re engaged in. You don’t have to worry about the enlightenment bit for now, unless you want to.
Like with practicing mantras, mindful engagement in repetitive tasks eliminates racing thoughts, centers us, and can be particularly helpful for people who are just so driven that they have a genuine problem sitting still.
We really encourage you, however, to give yourself permission to slow down for 15 minutes in the middle of the day today. There is a benefit in learning to accept that this is ok that is additional to the benefits of relaxing itself.
Try Some Mindful Self Care Today!
These are tools you can use today that cost nothing but a few minutes. If you try them out, let us know your experience in the comments. Reach out to us on social media too. In fact, if you enjoyed this article, it really helps us when you share it with a friend.
Hopefully, it will help your friend as well. As you know, we’re really into making a positive difference at Skara, so that would make our day.
Happy mindfulness, fam!