by Leo Babauta
It seems that life is moving faster and faster these days. At times, we stop and say, I want to slow down, simplify my life and do less. But what if you can’t? Are we doomed to a life of stress, anxiety and unhappiness?
Leo Babauta, author of Zen Habits says no. He learned and practices a very simple tool that may help transform your life. By implementing one simple method, you can be more present, so life doesn’t feel like it’s passing you by. You can learn to enjoy every activity, feel more relaxed, and be ready to handle any situation that comes your way.
We experience two modes in life, busy and relaxed. We spend most of our time in busy mode with only a few hours on the weekend to relax and unwind. How can we change this? How can we bring the child-like relaxed, sensory mode back into our everyday lives, without just relying on lunch breaks, meditation/yoga time or yearning for that once a year vacation?
Leo Babauta refers to his method as the “Zen State.” Recall a time when you were relaxed; feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, the grass under your feet, hearing the wind rustle through the trees, smelling the salt of the ocean air. In a relaxed state of mind, you “feel” instead of “think”. The sensations our bodies experience flow into our minds and create a happy, relaxed state.
The Zen State can be re-learned through conscious awareness and practice. We often find ourselves tied to a computer or cell phone. Our minds are actively engaged in the internet but our bodies are in the physical world. If you are sitting right now, what is your body experiencing? Is the room warm or cold, is your back hunched and fingers on a keyboard? What sounds are you aware of? How is your breathing? Is your jaw clenched? When you focus on physical sensations, you “get out of your head” and begin to enter the relaxed mode instead of the thinking mode. It’s not a complete state of relaxation, but you do become relaxed like a day on the beach or practicing yoga.
Once you learn to become mindful of the physical world around you, you can do it anytime, all the time. Notice the smell, taste and feel of food you are preparing and eating. Take in all the sensations of a shower, the warmth, feel and sounds of the water. At work, take time to stop and listen. What is going on around you? How is the light in your office? How loud are the sounds around you? What about the way you are sitting in your chair, how is your breathing and your posture? At home, be mindful of what you are experiencing while doing chores, making dinner or getting ready to go to work. The more you practice this simple technique you will feel more relaxed and find more enjoyment in what you do. It will turn busy into being present, harried into enjoyment. Life will be lived, instead of ignored.