We focus on action. We are programmed to act so that we finish the tasks set upon us, often in a constant state of pressure and tension. This is especially evident with athletes of all levels; being pushed to perform harder, faster, stronger, giving more of everything. They become pressured to stay in action mode constantly. The result of this strain can push a person so far that they become unable to relax, unwilling to let go, even slightly. Such a cycle results in fatigue, irritation, and runs the risk of potentially causing burnout. Evidence of effects like these are noticeable throughout our society. It is evident that in the modern world we are under more influence of pressure today than we were some years ago. The cup is being overfilled and headed towards a disaster. Many people I talk to say comments communicating that sentiment, and when I ask them if they actively relax or meditate they often give me the answer that they simply do not have the time for it. Their schedule is so tight that there isn’t any space left for relaxation, there is too much to do to relax!
So how can someone who is working like crazy, who has a family, goes to the gym five times a week, takes active participation in their kid’s sport training, and spends all of their time devoted to tasks constantly, learn to actively relax? Even if it appears that there are no gaps for relaxation, there might just be a solution. When we exercise we can use the time gaps, the rest between sets or rounds, to actively relax and unwind the tension both physically and mentally. This time might be as short as 20 to 90 seconds, but when, in an hour´s training session, these gaps might add up to as many as fifteen to twenty minutes, we can easily reap the benefits of this opportunity to destress. This means letting go when you rest, this means putting your mind at ease when you rest, and this means not checking messages on your phone when you rest.
Here’s how to actively choose to let go.
- Notice the tension in your neck and shoulders and shake them gently off, bring your shoulders down and let your arms hang by your sides.
- Breathe all the way down into your abdomen, and each time you breathe out, focus on relaxing.
- Empty your mind, let any thoughts just pass through you unnoticed, no reaction.
It is unbelievable how capable the mind can become at letting go, even if it has only a few seconds to do so. These brief rest periods add up to a new totality of capability that keeps you refreshed and relaxed in situations that ordinarily may be demanding and stressful. The power of this skill is beyond belief. How does this happen, and why does the mind adapt? This transformation happens because you train yourself to actively relax fifteen times per session, easily adding up to fifty times a week. How’s that for mini meditations?!