Have you ever wished for time off for a good break to rest and relax? Then when your wish is granted, you realize it is not easy at all to just rest and relax? We are used to a certain pace of life (depending on where you live), the constant doing, and of being productive that taking it slow is a real challenge. Erich Fromm wrote the book on the "Art of Being", of learning to be contented with whatever state we are in, and there are suggestions of practicing meditation, awareness, self analysis etc. The benefits of just being helps one to gather thoughts, gain perspective and relive stress. It is great for a healthy mental life and can lead to a happy and fulfilled life.
However, I do understand that idleness is frowned upon for fear that idleness can create plenty of distractions hence the metaphor, "an idle mind is a devil's workshop". What this means is that anyone with too much time on their hands may find themselves feeling bored, weary or restless because of lack of any personal interests. So, how then can you go about being "idle" and yet making it the most beneficial practice for your well being? Here are some tips on how to stop and smell the roses.
1) Practice gratitude. When you find yourself wishing for something you don’t have, or wishing your life were different, start by being thankful for what is already in your life. Make a list of what you are thankful for right now even if all you can think of is that you are alive and can breathe. You don’t want to miss the gifts right in front of you because you are always looking beyond the present moment to what once was or what might be.
2) Pay attention to everything around you. Pause, stop and see the beauty in everything around you; on your walk/run, on your way to work, on a bus ride, at home looking out of your window. Realizing even the tiniest or simplest details can bring life and happiness even to the most boring or routine days. Be thankful for those little things. Pay attention to your senses – touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste. Have you ever been so engrossed in something that time just passes by so fast? Living in the moment is about creating a state of mind that is aware but detached of everything within and without. Slow down, and try to savor the present moment.
3) Set an intention each morning so that you will stay on the path of being, of mindfulness. This helps you from straying to a path that leads to regret and perhaps even boredom. Start of with a 10 minutes meditation to quieten the mind and soul as soon as you are awake. Then decide on what you would like the day to be for you, whether to sit with a book you enjoy, to go for walk, to write, to call a close friend, to have a calm, quiet and peaceful day, even if you want to just wind down and watch movies - you are doing it intentionally to relax an overactive mind perhaps, etc. Set an intention so that when evening comes, you know you didn't "idle" your day away "wastefully".
4) Do something you enjoy. This helps with creativity, growth and rest for the soul. Even if it is just one day that you can take some time off; do something you want to do even if it is something you have been meaning to try and not sure if you would end up liking it or not. At least you are giving it a try. I know I started out writing about the art of being; it is not just about learning to be still but to BE YOU, the true you. Be authentic with yourself, get to know yourself better! We grow up and often learn what people want and like, and I wonder if we may not come to know what our own likes / dislikes are because they have been hampered. Learn to know yourself better by being true to yourself. This takes time and it is ok.
“Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!” ~Dr. Seuss
For me, now, I want to learn to take things slowly if that’s the only way they’d come. I want to contemplate, to experience life how it has changed even if for this temporary moment. This much needed God- given time is for me to engage in rest and relaxation, finding new inspirations, and perhaps to get to know myself better.
Learn to be kind and compassionate with yourself, only then are you able to pour from a cup this is full.