What I realize, though, is that I really didn’t have to wait until summer. I could have learned to relax all along.
We tend to carry so much tension in our bodies – running our lives by the clock, stressing about deadlines or bills, rushing to the next appointment, working longer hours at work or on homework. Is it all really worth it?
Well, probably not. In Ethan Winning’s editorial on overtime and work, he shares a study he conducted in the early 90’s on the effects of work hours and productivity. He found that “mistakes and errors rose by about 10% after an eight hour day, and 28% after a 10 hour day.” It was also revealed that “productivity decreased by half after the eighth hour of work.”
So the saying holds true: less is sometimes more. More productive in this case.
And all that tension and stress we create by worrying, pushing ourselves, and perceiving ourselves as always behind, always needing to do more, give more, be more, isn’t helping the problem, either.
Life coach Marla Tabaka asserts that you could regain as much as 40% of your time by decreasing your stressful multi-tasking habits. That’s right – stop trying to finish that project while talking on the phone, shoveling lunch into your mouth, and sending an email (as you toss in another load of laundry). You’re actually losing time, energy, and peace of mind, gaining nothing.
I was stopped dead in my tracks several months ago when I read one of Amma‘s quotes (one of my spiritual teachers) on last year’s calendar: “Children, learn to be relaxed in all circumstances. Whatever you do and wherever you are, relax and you will see how powerful it is… Once you learn this art, everything happens spontaneously and effortlessly.”
Wow. Now that was a totally different approach to things than my bite-my-lip-and-wrinkle-my-forehead way of going about a busy schedule.
I recalled to mind so many situations I had seen Amma in over the 16 years I’ve followed her: hugging people for 16 hours or more, leading rescue and clean up efforts after the big tsunami hit south India, rebuilding their large hall at the ashram in Amritapuri, giving spiritual talks. I have never, ever, seen her look tense, stressed out, or rushed. Yet she is far, far, far more productive than I am likely ever going to be.
So I’ve been letting go. There’s nothing in this moment that I need to get tense about. OK, so I have a deadline – I can still relax while I work towards it. Yes, dinner needs to get on the table and my daughter wants my attention. When I relax and become fully present, I know the quality of my time with my family deepens, the dinner turns out better, my writing flows much more elegantly, and my classes have a greater impact.
I’m more my True Self when I relax, and I feel that Divine power flow through me. I’m more productive – but I’m also a lot happier. Isn’t that what we really want in life?
You don’t have to wait until vacation or school is out to relax. Start right now to cultivate that inner state of relaxation by letting go, being present, and trusting the process. Deep breath in… deep breath out.