“Simplicity. . . It’s like a step we’ve forgotten how to dance, a native language we’ve forgotten how to speak in a rushy complex world.” Sandy Gingras
As I turn right on Walker Key Boulevard, a special calmness comes over me. I slow down to negotiate the first of four strategically placed speed bumps on the entrance street to our beach condo community. River, our pet canine, raises up in the back seat in a Pavlok-type response to the bumps, noting that we have arrived. My wife Carol says “beach!” and an excited River indicates he understands the word.
As we make another right turn the water becomes visible between the open parking spaces under each condo unit. Beautiful water is everywhere. Like a giant blanket, Terry Cove invites us to snuggle under its wrapping.
Whatever is going on at home in Mobile . . . at the office, with our family, or any of the myriad challenges we all face in this human journey . . . have all vanished for the moment as we are enraptured by the magical essence of the beach. All of us have experienced this kind of relaxation moment. Maybe your ‘beach haven’ is different – it might not include water. But, at some place and time, hopefully often as you juggle responsibilities, you have that moment of tranquility. Relaxation at its best – letting-go of all that commands our time.
The beach represents a simpler life: Casual clothing, flip flops, sleeping in, less rules and fewer time restraints. Author Sandy Gingras writes in How to Live at the Beach , the first book in her series, How to Live:
“We know that simplicity is within us and within our grasp. But simplicity is not simple to get to sometimes. Some people are so focused on other things that they miss the point. Some people believe that simplicity is something they can buy.
Simplicity is a process. It’s a kind of surrender. It’s a forgetting of the rules we never liked much anyway, of the values that have no real value, of the goals that never made much sense anyway. And is a remembering . . . how fulfilling a day of nothing can be. Of how magical quiet can be.”
Sounds great. But, perhaps your life does not have time for such unfettered relaxation. Just to schedule the time to unwind can be stressful. Sound familiar? Perhaps this reality is a place where you currently live – (way too often).
In her educational, scientifically supported article, Rest Vs Relaxation’, Daphne Lynn Bryan, M.D., explains that rest and relaxation are two different functions and both are important to our overall health. And health, mentally and physically, is essential to any success we are striving to achieve. Dr. Bryan writes: “Relaxation differs from rest, in that relaxation is our mind’s way of rejuvenating, and can assist in reducing the arousal we experience from stress and/or anxiety. This means that while rest occurs while we are asleep, relaxation occurs while we are awake, and involves us engaging in activities that we enjoy. Relaxing has been shown to improve our mood and cognitive functioning, like decision making and memory, and lowers the risk for depression, anxiety, and other heart-related issues. Additionally, when we relax, we boost our immunity and this can sometimes curb our desire of sugary fatty treats! Relaxation also improves our ability to cope with adversity, and helps to improve our quality of sleep!”
These are great benefits that we all want. But what do you if you do not own a beach home, or lack funds for such serene escapes?? What should you do? The answer is simple and available to everyone. I practice this every single day of my life, and most days, I am not at the beach. It involves a simple success principle:
Greet each day with gratitude, relaxation and love.
At home, my day starts with sinking into a comfortable couch in the living room. Alone. No coffee. No Smartphone. No reading ‘anxiety inducing’ emails. Stress is ruled out in my morning regimen that lasts 10 minutes or longer. This specially reserved time includes prayer and meditation. I always spend some time in what I call ‘a moment of gratitude,’ reflecting on people and things for which I am wholly thankful. Mentally, I embrace those whom I love, praying for good results in their lives. My time is filled with hope, appreciation and love.
What started a long time ago as a five-minute routine (for which I didn’t think I had time) has now morphed into something organized and longer. This restorative time generally lasts 20 to 30 minutes or longer – sometimes 60 minutes. This purposeful time willfully invested is a strong statement about how much I value this routine. If someone in the past had told me that one day I might spend a total hour on some mornings getting ready for my day, I would have responded that they do not know me.
At this meaningful juncture in life I cannot start my day without really starting my day. If you do not now practice such a routine in the morning, start today with five minutes. It will change your life.
When I finish this morning routine, I feel alive and refreshed and ready for my day. Coffee, some news and a few emails follow. Like many of you, some of the communication I encounter during the day can be stressful, but I have discovered my deliberate relaxation routine ensures that I am in a better place to face inevitable challenges. Armed with an inner core of calmness, I can approach today’s trials from a position of strength.
I do not limit my relaxation moments to a resolute morning routine. It is important to take small breaks throughout the day.
Simplicity is a process.
Is it time to simplify your life?
I will greet today with gratitude and love.
I will relax in the beginning and during the day.
I will succeed.