How easy is it for you to simply relax? By relaxing, I don’t mean falling into a heap at the end of a day tuning into something mindless on a screen of your choosing. I’m referring to the kind of relaxation that asks us to quiet our minds, to think of nothing, while presumably also doing nothing. To relax as a form of just letting everything go.

Quieting my own mind is no small feat. My inner monologue is incessant. This can be a good thing – in fact it’s how I write. It also serves as my moral compass and a critical tool for helping me manage and regulate my thoughts and actions. But my inner thoughts are also like a good friend who just can’t shut the hell up. He goes on and on and on. Chirping constantly, reminding me of what’s not getting done, how much more there is to do and how little time to do it.  He, or should I say I, just won’t let me relax.

When things are going well, my mind’s voice can be a welcomed companion. When they aren’t it can be a spiral of doom.

Yesterday, I took the rare morning off. My wife and I had a gift certificate to go to a Korean Spa, where they have ten types of sauna rooms intended to “relax the mind and body.”  It took me spending time in three rooms before the relaxation took hold and my mind cleared. At first, I thought I would use the quiet time lying in silence to sort out my thoughts, instead I just shut them out.

When it was over, I felt lighter. The proverbial weight lifted off my shoulders. When my mind began to talk to me again, I literally and charitably told myself to “shhh” and I obliged.

After returning home, my wife, youngest daughter and I took our dog for a nice walk. Ambling along listening to her recount the details of her day.  Me, in this moment anyway, without a care in the world

In the afternoon I had a little work that I wanted to get done. It was a beautiful day, so I grabbed a coffee from my diner and sought out a quiet place outside our library to work. I found a bench around a corner that I didn’t know was there. It looked out over the majestic Palisades. A flock of geese flew by in formation. As I went to sit down, I noticed a small plaque on the bench. It read “I thank you God for this amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirit of trees and a blue true dream of sky…”  Adding to that timely reminder of all that we have to be grateful for, I also thank  ee cummings who wrote those wonderful words and to Margaret and Bruce Jennings who dedicated that bench 20 years ago. Collectively they have afforded folks like me yet another well-needed place for relaxation.

I hope this week brings you at least a few moments of complete and utter relaxation.  If your mind is telling you that you don’t have the time for it, please just kindly ask him or her to be quiet.

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