I've developed a fair few ways to bring my mind to center over the years. Most are innovations of using the breath and my surroundings to focus my awareness and still my thoughts. Today I want to share with you a new method I use when taking an afternoon nap to recharge my brain.
This is really useful for those days when you're busy right from the get go, and come the afternoon you really need to take 20 minutes to completely rest your mind, recharge and come back to your day on full power.
What I used to find was that I'd lie down to nap, but my brain would still be mulling over the things I needed to get done. Often I'd be napping and then pulled out of the moment and beckoned by what needed doing. Sometimes I'd be unable to nap due to feeling restless and end up carrying on without having had any mental recovery time.
Afternoon naps are really beneficial. We all get sleepy after lunch sometimes, and often struggle on through those afternoon dips of tiredness even though our body is crying out for a nap. Research has shown that taking a nap recharges your body and your brain and promotes a healthy heart and longevity. In 2007, a Harvard School of Public Health study of 24,000 adults found that nappers were 40 percent less likely to die of heart disease than non-nappers. What more motivation to take a nap do you need than that?
But like the majority of people you might find it quite difficult to go from full pace to complete relaxation in just a short window of time, so here's what to do when you want to shut you mind down for an afternoon nap:
7-Steps to a Perfect Nap
1. Lie down on your back on the bed or sofa, or on the floor with a cushion behind your head.
2. Relax your arms by your side and place you hands on your stomach.
3. Close your eyes.
4. Take a long, deep breath. Hold the breath for 3-4 seconds and release it slowly. Continue this process.
5. As thoughts begin to invade your headspace, simple suck them, one by one, into the stream of your breath.
6. When a thought arises, visualize hoovering it up into your breath, swallowing it and then eliminating its presence by breathing it out of your body as you exhale.
7. Don't focus on what the thought represents or means in relation to your life. Simply pull it into the sea of oxygen and allow it to be dissolved by your breath before it multiplies.
Within just a couple of minutes you'll be blissfully napping.
If you haven't tried using the breath for relaxation before, this might seem a little strange. But this is a really effective way of quickly centering your mind, focussing your awareness in one place and falling quickly into total rest.
Often I find that I don't fall into a sleep state at all, but instead fall into a completely neutral, somewhat meditative state, whereby I come around after 10-15 minutes and don't remember thinking or dreaming anything for that period.
Because you're lying down, you might well fall into a sleep state – depending on how tired you are – so you might want to set an alarm clock to prevent sleeping too long.
This is a great way to ease mental stress and reorganize the brain, and of course to just take a much deserved break of pure relaxation.
Let me know how you get on.