How To Create a Daily Relaxation Routine

Easy cross legged relaxation pose

Relaxation Solves Everything

Relaxing every day will solve almost any issue you have. In fact, most of the problems you have  are a result of not relaxing enough. Whatever you’re worried about right now, you can relax it away. It might sound crazy, but it’s true. 

It will help you lose weight, aid in healing, clear your mind, balance your mood, balance your nervous system, eliminate problems, enhance your relationships, give you greater intuition and much more. 

In our culture, we tend to hope that “Once I fix these problems, achieve this thing, and get everything done, then I’ll  relax.” And the years pass without ever relaxing. The truth is, life is a never ending journey of problems, situations, and changes.There is no such thing as getting everything done in life. That’s why it’s important to make relaxing a priority, and not put it off until everything gets done. 

Another truth is that the ultimate luxury in life is has nothing to do with money. The ultimate luxury is being able to live peacefully.


How I Went from Anxious Mess to Mostly Zen

My dedication to relaxing Every Single Day was born out of hitting rock bottom with anxiety. Many times. All of my twenties were fraught with anxiety, worry, and fear. All the busy-ness was a way to assuage fears of not being good enough. Everything I did was to placate my anxiety. In other words, anxiety was steering the ship of my life.

I never fully relaxed until my thirties. I didn’t know how. My life had centered around school, work, fitness, achievement, business, earning, studying, learning, pushing, growing, pursuing, and so on. Every day was a sprint to a finish line that never arrived. Even the many “vacations” I took were filled with activities and busy-ness. Activities are fantastic, but I’ve learned that relaxation is just as important for me.

When I first moved to the more laid back environment of Austin from the suburbs of Chicago, I was frustrated by how slowly the lines at grocery stores moved. I was taken aback when conversations with strangers would carry on for five, ten, sometimes twenty minutes. I was fascinated by people around the city using hammocks, languishing for hours on the hiking trails in their portable cocoons. Moving to Austin was my first encounter with shifting from anxious-brain to relaxation-brain.

One little thing I did was designating an area of my home for yoga. It started out as a tiny corner in my living room. On my last move, I decided to make what would be a dining room into a yoga space. I got rid of a decent amount of furniture and never looked back. I’m so grateful for this space, and will always have a designated Peace Area anywhere I live.

My zen den. I left my dining room empty and made it a peaceful yoga spot.

A turning point in my life was my first Yoga Nidra class. I walked into the wrong yoga class, and was surprised to find everyone wrapped in blankets as the teacher prepared the us by saying “if you fall asleep, that’s totally ok, just be mindful if you snore.” Intrigued, I got my own blanket and tucked myself in. It  turned out to be the most blissful hour of my life, and was a catalyst for deep changes. A few years later, I became certified in Yoga Nidra because I believe it has the power to bring you home to yourself.

Basically, I got sick and tired of anxiety and busy-ness, while encountering multiple peaceful influences that made me feel fantastic. I started to dedicate myself to cultivating & living from peace, joy, and calm. I can’t say exactly how long this process took, but I can say that anxiety isn’t driving the ship of my life anymore.

For me, the only way to let go of anxiety and live in peace is through giving myself space every day. Giving myself space helps me to touch into the very real, eternal part of myself that isn’t affected by the ripples of life. I can tend to the ripples with a clear head when I’m anchored into that deep space of the infinite. That’s all a fancy way of saying, “Daily Relaxation Makes My Life 1000% Better.”

And now let’s get to the the most important routine you’ll ever develop…your Daily Relaxation Routine…and watch your life change before your eyes! 


Defining Relaxation
(Hint… It Ain’t Screen Time)

Relaxation is releasing your body and mind from all thinking, and all tension.  True relaxation is about doing less, and doing it on a regular basis. 

peace is the ultimate luxury

 

When people say they’re going to relax, what that usually means is they’re going to watch something on Netflix or scroll the internet.  Screen time is actually the opposite of relaxation. It is stimulating your nervous system, and keeping the mind busy with thoughts. They’re not your thoughts, but they’re thoughts nonetheless. 

There are two minds we operate from: 

The Thinker =  like a musician on an outdoor stage
The Witness = like the space that holds the entire concert

In our daily lives, we are in the thinking mind, like musicians on a stage. We are performing, worried about how we sound, deciding what song to sing, and so on.  When we relax, we are like the space that holds the entire concert, stage, the musician, the audience, the grass, the sky, all of it. 


Relaxation is allowing yourself to let go for a little while, and rest in the peace of not being anyone or doing anything
. There is no job to do when you relax. There is nowhere to go. There is nothing to achieve. You’re just resting as the space that holds the concert, and everything happening in the concert is just…happening. 

As the space that holds the concert, you might still experience sounds (thoughts), and vibrations (emotions) but you’re not the musician on the stage. You’re the space witnessing the thinking mind. You’re the space witnessing the concert and beyond. 

Any time you shift into the witness, you’re letting yourself relax a little. You can do this any time, with any activity. 

 


Relaxing Trains Your Nervous System

If you’re always wired, worried or anxious, that means your nervous system is stuck in red alert mode. When you’re in red alert mode, it feels like everything is either an emergency or a threat. We can’t make great choices like this. We can’t properly digest food like this. We can’t do anything well in red alert mode. 

For years I was chronically anxious and wired, and I never relaxed. I didn’t realize how imbalanced my nervous system was until my autoimmune issues started. Now I relax like it’s my job. I’m no longer stuck in worry and stress loops. And believe me, if I can do it, you can too. 

The bottom line is you can retrain your nervous system to be calm and balanced.  And this is a  superpower you don’t want to neglect. Imagine it…something stressful happens and it bothers you for a few minutes….and then poof! It’s done and out of your system. You keep going on about your day and don’t have any lingering tension. Miraculous, right?!

Here’s the cliff notes on the science. Our bodies have a magical relaxation tool called the vagus nerve. The more you stimulate your vagus nerve through relaxation, the more balanced your nervous system will be. 

So don’t think of your relaxation time as lazy. Don’t feel like you should be doing something “more important”. There’s nothing more important than getting your nervous system balanced!

 


Building Your Relaxation Routine

First, make a commitment to give your daily relaxation routine at least three weeks to see the full benefits. It’s important to make this commitment, because your busy mind will NOT want to relax. Your busy mind will give you a million reasons why you shouldn’t, why this isn’t working and so on. Ignore your busy mind and commit to daily relaxing.

Step 1 – Choose How Long

Decide on a minimum amount of relaxation time. This is the bare minimum amount of time you allot to relaxing each day. This can be as little as 5 minutes. I like 45 minutes, broken up throughout my day. 

Step 2 – Choose When

Commit to a relaxation time that is easy to stick to, and that you enjoy. The morning is a great time to relax, because your mind is still clear, and you won’t forget. Starting your morning with relaxation sets your nervous system up to be more calm during the day. Mornings are my preferred time to relax, and I never skip it because it’s changed my life.

If you prefer a different time of day, do what works for you.

When you feel like you don’t have enough time to relax, you need to schedule multiple relaxing sessions in your day. Even just 5 minute sessions work wonders. 

Step 3. Pick a few ways to relax

  • Yoga Nidra is my favorite way to relax. It is known as sleep yoga, and is a powerful healing tonic for an overactive nervous system. You lie down, and listen to a yoga teacher guide you through a meditation. After my first yoga nidra class, I fell so in love that I immediately registered for my certification in teaching it[ Pictures of me in savanna and recliner pose].
  • Restorative Yoga is a simple and luxurious practice. Get a pile of pillows or couch cushions and arrange them in a way that allows you to relax. Then melt into the awareness of being relaxed. Use a blanket and cover yourself during restorative yoga. Set a timer for 10-20 minutes, and just relax.
  • Sitting meditation is a classic way to relax that you can do anywhere, any time. If you struggle with meditation, keep trying different techniques until you find one you enjoy.  The style that works best for me is called vapasyana. I focus on my breathing, and then eventually let go of focusing on anything altogether. When thoughts or emotions arise, I witness them and feel them, and let them pass.

Some Other Ways to Relax

  • Hatha Yoga
  • Yin Yoga
  • Qi Gong (Here’s qi gong routine that’s great for everyone)
  • Get in nature
  • Do a craft
  • Go for a walk without your electronics
  • Hang out with friends
  • Eat your food slowly and mindfully
  • Shut everything down two hours before bed
  • Look out your window
  • Learn an instrument
  • Get a massage
  • Take a hot bath or shower

Do whatever makes you feel peaceful, and allows your nervous system to settle.


Troubleshooting


When I try to relax, my mind goes nuts. What should I do?
Be ok with the mind going nuts. Part of relaxing is allowing old stuff to come up, so you can finally clear it out. The first couple of times you relax, old thoughts and emotions are bound to come up. Feel them fully, witness your thoughts, and allow it all to just be. Keep relaxing and letting your mind be busy, or afraid or whatever else it wants to be. It’ll pass eventually. 

I feel overwhelming anxiety when I sit down to meditate. What should I do?
This is anxiety that you usually distract yourself from. When you finally sit down to relax, you’ll feel the feelings you’re usually distracted from. This is good. When we ignore emotions, they get more intense. What you resist persists. 

When we feel our emotions without any resistance, we are actually letting them go. Relaxing around your fear, and letting it be there will dissolve it. Just notice the fear in your body, be ok with it, and relax around it. It may not dissolve in a week or a month, but it will eventually dissolve if you keep allowing the feelings to be felt and let go of. 

I feel pain when I relax or meditate due to a medical condition. What should I do?
Pain is something we usually resist, and that resistance can actually make you feel worse. I encourage you to try Yoga Nidra to help your nervous system to settle, your muscles to relax, and your pain centers to cool off. Yoga Nidra will also help you to develop a different relationship with your pain. 

I’m going through a terrible tragedy in my life, and don’t want to face this pain. Isn’t relaxing just me with my sadness and fear?
There’s a part of you that’s very sad and afraid, and that part of you needs attention and care. Relax in whatever way feels best, and be there for your pain. Have compassion for the part of you that needs to cry. And have compassion for the part of you that wants to watch junk on Netflix. Do whatever your soul says you need to do. But please do take a few minutes each day to relax and feel your feelings fully.

 


What to Expect

When you relax every day, you’ll begin to melt the icebergs in your life. The big, crunchy areas that you’ve been wanting to change will start to change. You’ll develop new habits. You’ll develop new ways of thinking. 

Essentially, you’re entire life will change for the better. And that’s because you’ll be MORE  YOU. Relaxing helps you to let go of what you’re not, and be more of what you are.

You’re not anything that can be named or seen. Relaxing and letting go is the key to knowing this.  

What you are cannot be put into words. What you are can only be experienced directly. 

And when you experience what you are directly, every day, the only possible outcome is change for the better. 

Now go relax!

Love, 

Brenda

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