Near the end of class, while we were all lying in final savasana, our yoga teacher Miranda told us, “Give your body the gift of stillness and your mind the gift of clarity.” I told her afterwards I thought it was a great line and she happily responded that she came up with it in the moment. It’s awesome that she trusted her yoga sense, and psychologically speaking her words were spot on. Whether you practice yoga or not the idea is applicable, especially if you live in the West. In a culture where productivity is God many of us are negative about doing nothing, some of us are downright afraid of it. We feel compelled to fill up all our time with activities, to always have something to keep us occupied.
You know that you can’t work all the time, that you need to take a break or else you become mentally and physically exhausted, but you might not pass on that same favor to your brain or your body. Even when you’re relaxing you’re not really relaxing, you’ve simply taken the intensity level down a few notches. Thoughts are still flying across your mind and your body is still active, so from their perspectives it’s no break at all just a diminution of what they were already doing.
The reason to regularly give your body the gift of stillness and your mind the gift of clarity by quietly focusing on your breathing is that you are your mind and body, so a gift bestowed upon them comes back to benefit you too by making you feel more refreshed and resilient throughout your day, capable of facing the challenges that come your way with equanimity.
Think about how you choose to relax when you’re not working and ask yourself if these activities are actually relaxing or are just more work for your mind and body. If you can find some time every day to simply be in the stillness without trying to do anything except breathe you’ll start to notice a big difference in your life.