For the past week I’ve been reading Tony Schwartz’s book, The Power of Full Engagement, and it’s really been opening my eyes to a new way of managing my life. I’ve been concentrating on my time-management quite a bit lately and working to stem the tide of my overbearing predilection to procrastinating but have been hitting some major road-blocks. I’ve regulated my sleep patterns and improved my eating habits. I’ve worked exercise into my days and have even been getting out for walks here and there. I’m making a todo list every morning and have been really good about diligently plowing through my daily tasks. That is until about 3:00 in the afternoon when I just run out of steam and my productivity takes a nose-dive. I’ve allowed it to frustrate me time and time again but those days are numbered.
The book teaches a totally new way to manage your life, not through time-management but through energy management. It provides a walk-through of several techniques to improve your ability to manage your energy through out a day to remain alert, on point, and engaged with whatever life throws at you. Ranging from tips to manage your physical energy through maintaining your spiritual energy by focusing on what’s really important, this book is a wonderful tool in the fight against energy depletion.
One of the tips I’ve really taken to as of late is the practice of taking a mid-afternoon break wherein I lie down, relax, and just focus on my breathing for 30 minutes. I grab a blanket, stretch out in my easy chair, and let go for a little while. The technique is based on Zen Buddhist techniques that are thousands of years old so who am I to argue? Making this minor change to my daily routine has introduced a new level of productivity that has surprised me a great deal. After a meditation session I’m more alert, have more energy, and I’m able to get back to work with more focus and determination.
I’m really bad at relaxing though, and always have been. I’m one of those “my brain never shuts off” types so it’s always been difficult for me to just stop, breathe, and take a break. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the fact that I actually need a break. Historically I’ve just pushed past it, worked through it, or become distracted by any number of shiny things. I’ve experimented before with various noise generators to help me focus on a specific task and to relax before bed with great success. I use a few different apps for this. On my iPhone I regularly use an app called Simply Noise which is a brown, pink, and white noise generator. About two months ago I stumbled onto a gem of an app called Magic Mind (sorry, Mac only) which blends nature sounds, relaxing melodies and isochronic tones in an array of programs designed to bring about specific frames of mind. It’s been incredibly useful when meditating because it allows me to focus internally while blocking out the sounds of everyday life.
There have been countless historic figures that have been staunch proponents of a siesta or nap in the afternoon. I’d always held the opinion that naps were for the old, the lazy, and the very young. I never thought I’d become a napper but I’ve discovered a way to extend my energy and focus while simultaneously obtaining some much needed relaxation. While it’s true that working from home allows me much more freedom to engage in this act than if I had a regular 9 to 5 gig, that doesn’t mean I would stop the practice if I were to go back to that life. At this point, I’m a total convert to the mid-afternoon meditation and will be making this habit a permanent one. How about you? Do you have any meditation stories or tips to share or questions about my own techniques? Let me know in the comments below!