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.
Three of the greatest pleasures in life – and I’m sure you will agree – are: relaxing poolside in a sunny tropical location, eating cookie dough ice cream, and sleeping. When my number is up, I hope to go out napping on a chaise lounge in Hawaii with an empty quart of cookie dough ice cream on my lap.
Seriously, is there anything more blissful in life than napping on a rainy afternoon? Oh sure, I hear you thinking, “You don’t want to waste your life away catching z’s, do you?” To which I say, “Of course I do!” I read an article that said on average, human beings spend 33 percent of their lives sleeping. I estimate I’ve spent closer to 38% – but then I’ve always been an over-achiever. (I would have read the rest of the article, but I was snoozing by the fourth paragraph.)
You know the kind of people I can’t stand? People who get up at 4:30 am to work out at the gym for an hour before zipping through the entire New York Times crossword puzzle, while making a kale & kelp milkshake for breakfast before heading off to work by 7 to cure cancer or feed the homeless – no doubt with kale & kelp milkshakes.
To be honest, for decades, I used to be one of those people (except for the k & k shakes, that is). But now that I’m retired, I realize that for all those decades, my priorities were seriously out of whack. Lately I’ve discovered the joy of sleeping in. Oh, I still wake up by 5:30, but now I pass the next two hours lulling in bed, debating how long I can stay there before my grape-sized bladder gives out. I love sleeping. It’s that tranquil period between 10 pm and 7 am when I don’t have to wash dishes, do laundry, clean the basement, pay bills or listen to my wife complain about how much time I waste sleeping.
A successful marriage is all about compromise. In the interest of marital harmony, I learned early on that I needed to let my wife win a few negotiations now and then.
In just a few weeks we will be moving to our dream house, by which I mean her dream house. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure I will love it, because that’s what she tells me. Of course, no guy’s dream house would be complete without a MAN CAVE.
I had visions of the perfect man cave. I wanted to go beyond the ordinary items that every man includes in his private oasis – your know, basic things like a regulation-sized beer pong table, a dart board that curses in Spanish whenever a dart hits it, or a TV larger than the wall it is attached to. Those essentials are givens, of course.
No, I was looking for something a little more exotic. Something that made a manly statement about me, Tim Jones, as a man! So I came up with my list of Tim’s Top 10 Must-Haves for His Man Cave:
- A jumbo-sized wall chart showing the proper operation of power tools – as demonstrated by hot girls in bikinis.
- A combination billiard / air hockey / foosball table that with the press of a button recedes into the floor.
- A Batman-style utility belt equipped with a potato chip dispenser, cheese-wiz canisters in six artificial flavors, and a holster for my burrito-firing bazooka.
- A beer tap in the shape of an elephant trunk – pull on left tusk for guacamole; right tusk for salsa.
- A bear rug – with grizzly in full roar – wearing a Seattle Seahawks helmet (for a touch of class).
- A life-size wooden mermaid, salvaged from the prow of a pirate ship, just like the one that Blackbeard used to pry the cork from his rum by wedging the neck of the bottle in between her cleavage and twisting his wrist in a starboard direction.
- An oversized phone shaped like a football that makes a deafening crowd roar for thirty seconds whenever it rings.
- A giant aquarium – on the ceiling – that you can stare up at during commercial breaks in the game to watch manta rays swimming overhead.
- A wall-mounted animal head – anything with antlers. I’m thinking moose but am open to suggestions.
- A lava lamp. (I’ve always wanted one ever since 7th grade.)
So here’s the thing. Sometimes I just can’t seem to turn off my brain. It’s always racing, bouncing from one random thought to the next, making it impossible for me to totally relax.
Oh, sure, I’ve tried various ways to relax and mentally shut down. I’ve tried yoga and tennis and pretending to listen to my wife. But still my mind darts around to other thoughts. Some people have speculated that I may suffer from A.D.D. and yet, I suddenly have a serious craving for pancakes.
Once I even tried hypnotherapy, in an attempt to clear my mind. The hypnotherapist soothingly invited me to close my eyes and envision a cool, gentle breeze on a mild summer day. He said to imagine I was in a lush field of tall grass with yellow dandelions. And all I could think about was how I needed to mow my lawn and pull up weeds. While I was at it, I might as well prune the bushes and power wash the patio. There went my Saturday. I left the session totally stressed out.
So, I decided to try massage. I’d be able to close my eyes and listen to soft music, maybe even some wind chimes, while a professional masseur melted all my aches and cares away. Sounded perfect. Well, things didn’t go quite as I had hoped. Here’s a recap of what went on in my mind as he worked on my back, arms, legs and hands for sixty minutes.