Life is stressful. So, I recently purchased a meditation CD. But I’m not sure it’s helping. Take a listen and tell me what you think.
For most of us, life is getting more complicated, faster-paced, and more stressful than ever. My suggestion: Slow down. Breathe in. And listen to a meditation CD. Just not the one that I recently bought.
Welcome to this audio relaxation program. Over the next 20 minutes, you will learn how to block out the worries and cares in your life. You will walk away feeling calm, with a renewed energy. Let’s begin. Take off your shoes and sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes.
Now, take a deep breath in through your nose. As you do, notice how it feels a bit harder to breathe deeply than it used to. That may be because of your recent weight gain. Breathe out – through your mouth.
Let all the stress empty out of your body. Remind yourself that there is no point worrying about being woefully behind in your sales quota. Let it go. With just two weeks left in the quarter, you’ll never make it. Breathe in.
Begin to notice how the muscles in your shoulders and neck seem extremely tight. To release the tension, relax each muscle group. Flex your fingers and toes. Let them go completely limp. As you do this, clear your mind of anything that is weighing on you, especially this morning’s news that your son is flunking Algebra and English – and just about everything. Looks like he’ll be re-taking 9th grade. Breathe out.
Slowly raise your arms and legs, flexing each limb and then relaxing. Let all the stress flow out of your limbs, much like your retirement fund is flowing down the river after paying for the new roof that leaked after the storm of the century. It’s only money. You can’t take it with you. Breathe in.
Continue your progressive muscle relaxation and move to your core. Notice how tight your stomach is starting to feel. This is natural when visualizing your wife’s rage that you spent $800 on golf clubs instead of patching the roof before the rainstorm as she told you to do. Breathe out. Begin to visualize a happy place – far away from your wife. Perhaps a spring meadow filled with tulips and daffodils. Isn’t it beautiful? Now imagine how you will actually get to this peaceful meadow, given that your car’s engine is making that unsettling grinding noise. It could mean your transmission is about to go. Probably not. Forget I even mentioned it. Breathe in.
When you’re feeling stressed, think about your pet, Bongo. He never worries about ANYTHING. Try to be more like him. Don’t give a second thought to the priceless bedroom carpet he chewed to pieces last weekend. You wanted it replaced anyway, right? You’re a good dog, Bongo. Yes, you are!
Lie down on the floor. Give your arms and legs a good, long stretch. Let’s try another visualization. Imagine you’re on a sailboat that is taking you away to a tropical paradise. Feel the soft, warm spray of sea water on your face. Banish those recurring thoughts of the leaking roof you have to replace. And the $12,000 cost. Breathe out.
Picture an idyllic Caribbean island coming into view. Now imagine pulling up your sailboat on a white, sandy beach surrounded by palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. You are greeted by a throng of people, welcoming you to your own island paradise. Notice how familiar they look, all bearing an eerie resemblance to your company’s Board of Directors, to whom you will present your disappointing quarterly sales numbers in 45 minutes. Breathe in.
Now it’s time to return to your day. Begin to open your eyes slowly. By now you are feeling relaxed and rejuvenated – ready to face the world with a new sense of calm and serenity. Oh look. There’s an envelope on your desk. It appears to be from your credit card company. A bill for $8,400, which is roughly $8,300 more than you have in your checking account. Breathe out.
Notice how your heart is starting to pound more quickly. Become aware of the profuse sweat streaming down your brow. By now you may experience your stomach tying up in knots. This is perfectly normal. Just lie back down on the floor. Keep breathing. Curl up in the fetal position and contemplate that you have lost all concept of time. In fact, based on my calculations, there is no way you’ll ever make it back to the office in time for your sales presentation before the Board of Directors, which starts in 30 minutes. Thanks to the jackknifed 18-wheeler blocking three lanes of traffic on the interstate, you have a handy excuse.
And breathe out. This concludes this session of your meditation relaxation CD. Have a carefree day.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2015. Edited by Betsy Jones.
I’ve lived in major metro areas my entire life – Albany, NY, Columbus, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and most recently, Seattle. They all had one disturbing characteristic in common – high levels of crime. Every year, it seems, the rates of homicides, drug-related incidents, home break-ins, road rage, and jaywalking go up. I hate to admit it, but even I eventually succumbed to my base criminal instincts. Last summer, I paid for three hours of parking in downtown Seattle, but left my car in the spot for three hours and 12 minutes. I know I should have turned myself in. It’s something that will eat away at my conscience for the rest of my life.
So when my wife and I moved to a small, idyllic community (population ~ 15,000), I was relieved that we’d finally escaped the urban world of unbridled crime. Or had we? We now live on Camano Island, a seemingly tranquil, semi-rural community with rolling farmland, rugged beaches, and views of snow-capped mountains. But lurking underneath this deceptive façade of serenity, I’ve discovered an insidious underbelly of rampant crime.
The island’s longtime elderly residents remember nostalgically a more peaceful era, when the main activities were crab fishing and sitting. The island only had one stop light, one gas station, and almost nobody with a last name that was hard to pronounce. But now the island has four stop lights and three gas stations. Thankfully, with the exception of Lucjan and Konstantyna Chmielowski, who were born in Poland, we can still pronounce most people’s names. However, along with this community’s spiraling urbanization (recently they even opened a drive-through espresso stand, can you imagine!) has come previously unheard of levels of crime and disorderly behavior.
The following is a list of infractions reported for the month of March. (All of the following items are based on actual police reports found in the local paper, the Camano Island Hopper.)
March 4: Mail was stolen from 115 Paradise Lane. The homeowner is only asking the perpetrator to please return the Wednesday Flyer section of the paper. There was a two-for-one coupon on flank steak she had planned to use. (more…)
I’ve lived in Seattle for over twenty years and I still love it here. It’s known by various nick names: Jet City (because of all the Boeing jets built here) and The Emerald City (because of all the greenery). Personally, I prefer Drip City because it’s more accurate, thanks to all the rain and the fact that at last count there were at least 1,542 Starbucks locations in downtown Seattle alone.
For many people in the eastern two-thirds of the country, Seattle is this mysterious, faraway place they only know about from Sleepless in Seattle. But there is so much more to this city than a spunky Meg Ryan (although let’s not understate Meg’s importance).
Let me debunk a few myths about my adopted city:
- Myth: It rains here all the time. That is simply not true. The weather here is gloriously sunny and mild with zero humidity – if you happen to be here in August. Otherwise, yeah, it does rain a fair bit.
- Myth: The sun vanishes for nine months of the year, from October through June. Again, utter hyperbole. There are many winters where you may see the sun for long stretches of time – usually during the second week of August.
- Myth: It is so damp here that the roofs of most houses are covered in thick moss. Actually, it’s more like a light dusting. And this also goes for the dusting of moss you’ll typically find on our lawns, driveways, patio furniture, and any toddler who has been left out in the backyard for more than 45 minutes.
A long time ago in a university far, far away, I attended law school and passed the bar exam. Which just goes to prove that an outstanding law school education is no guarantee your life will turn out the way your parents had hoped. But I digress. My point is that if there is one thing I learned from my legal training, it’s how to create oppressively one-sided legal agreements primarily designed to obfuscate.
Therefore, as a public service to all five of my readers, I urge you, before you enter into a long-term romantic relationship like marriage or going steady with Morgan from your 11th grade biology class, to be sure you and your very special someone have signed a legally enforceable Relationship Agreement that clearly spells out what each of you agree to do – and not do.
I am proud to say that when it comes to suing one’s spouse, America ranks #1. We’re the most litigious society in the world. The United States has as many lawyers as the next six countries combined. Where else can a woman sue a local television station for making an inaccurate weather prediction or a man can sue himself?
My point is, if we’re not careful, we’re liable to get sued for the least little hit and run car accident I failed to report. (Wait, did I just think that or did I just type that?) Sometimes our fairy tale romances take a few unexpected turns and what starts out as Happily Ever After may later descend into the War of the Roses.