I was born hopeful and happy. I lean toward an optimistic view of things through no exceptional effort. It’s just how I’ve always been.
Nonetheless, there are times when I struggle through what seems like endless, dark tunnels filled with quicksand, trying to accomplish all I’m expected to do and feeling overwhelmed in the process.
These are not happy days.
I feel like I’ll never be able to catch up with everything I need to do. I feel worn down, used up, mourning all that lovely potential I enjoyed as a youth that now lies mangled and crushed beneath a mountain range of obligations.
My usual remedy for such times includes a long, hot bath and a cup of calming tea.
It’s amazing that such a simple thing as a warm bath and a cup of tea can change my world from misery to satisfaction.
What explains that? I think it has to do with tending to the body. I think, when we treat our body well, our spirit is refreshed and renewed.
We humans complicate our lives by trying to exist exclusively within the cramped enclosure of our skull. We stuff our minds with ideas and to-do lists and goals and regrets and concepts and sentiments and expectations and fears and worries until it seems we’re nothing but a swirling mass of mental mayhem.
As if our mind is all there is of us. As if our body is nothing more than a "support mechanism" for our mind.
But this is so completely wrong. Our mind is a product of our brain with all its wondrous neurons, dendrites and axons, and the brain is part of our body. The body is the important thing; without it, there would be no mind, no ideas, no plans or accomplishments…without it, there’s nothing of the rest of us.
And the body is what connects us, physically, with the rest of the world. We’re connected through our senses: touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing.
So here’s my recommendation (to myself) and to anyone else who cares to take it. When the mind is weary, afraid, overwhelmed, sad and worried, slow waaaay down, take several long, deep breaths, and get back in touch with the world through your senses.
Want to feel alive? Enjoy a delicious meal. It can be as elaborate as you want or it can be as simple as a peach – fully ripe and juicy, with that delicious peachy fragrance. Bite into it and let the juice fill your mouth. Taste the wonder contained in that smooth, round, beautiful peach.
Want to feel alive? Take a few minutes to mow your lawn and enjoy the exquisite fragrance of fresh mown grass.
Or slice a lemon in half and inhale.
If you’re near flowers – roses or star shaped jasmine or other fragrant plants – stop and smell them. You’ll be amazed at how renewed you’ll feel.
Want to feel happy? Put on some happy music and dance to it. Or sing along. Want to feel calm? Put on some calm, classical music, something with a lot of strings and French horns, and feel yourself relax.
Want to feel at peace? Get a massage. Or give one. Or do my favorite thing: sink into a full tub of hot/warm water and just stay there a while. And after a relaxing bath, why not a little nap? Might be just the thing to renew your energy.
Take a walk in a beautiful place…a park or the beach or along a lovely, tree-lined road. If you have a dog, invite it along. It can add humor to your stroll.
We’re physical beings and we must tend (carefully and lovingly) to our bodies if we want to feel healthy inside and out.
So, when you’re feeling low or overwhelmed, get in touch with the world through your senses and see if it doesn’t renew and refresh you
Tending to the body works for me. I’ll bet it will work for you, too.
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