What causes our need to rush?

It’s easy to assume that the cause is economic: We must make enough money to pay for our chosen lifestyles. Sometimes we feel that something is wrong when we are not busy. 

But the real cause for our need to rush is a lifestyle that leaves certain basic needs unfulfilled. 

By crowding our schedules with “more”—more socializing, more eating, more work, more activity, more appointments—we may be trying to fill the emptiness we feel within. 

When you direct your attention and energies outward, you lose a sense of the wonder, beauty, and magnificence within yourself—where true happiness, joy, and peace originate. By slowing down and redirecting your energies inward, you will not only train your brain to relax, but fill that feeling of emptiness with a new sense of yourself which can ultimately change your life. 

One of the world’s leading experts on the brain is Herbert Benson, M.D., author of The Relaxation Response and Your Maximum Mind. He developed relaxation techniques that have improved the lives of countless people. 

What Benson calls “the relaxation response” is the body’s ability to enter into a state characterized by an overall reduction of the metabolic rate and a lowered heart rate. 

"Take time every day to cultivate calmness and offer that calmness to everyone you meet."

According to Benson, this state of relaxation also acts as a door to a renewed mind and a changed life, a feeling of awareness. 

Physiological changes occur when you are relaxed; there is harmonizing or increased communication between the two sides of the brain, resulting in feelings often described as well-being, unboundedness, infinite connection, and peak experience. 

Begin the Practice of Relaxation

  1. Visualize yourself feeling relaxed and peaceful.
  2. Progressively relax your body, beginning with your toes and ending with your head. Breathe slowly and deeply and totally relax each part of your body. As you go along, say to yourself, “My toes, feet, legs, and so on are relaxed,” until you have gone through your entire body. Then rest for a while in the quiet and silence. Listening to a relaxation or meditation tape also may help you relax.
  3. Create a sanctuary within yourself where you can go at any time, just by closing your eyes and desiring to be there. Your sanctuary is your ideal place of relaxation, tranquility, beauty, safety, and calmness. Visit your inner sanctuary several times a week, for just a few minutes, and come back more relaxed and peaceful.
  4. Look at a picture of a beautiful landscape.
  5. Conscious breathing. This is something that the great spiritual teacher and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, Paramhansa Yogananda, emphasized in all of his books and home study lessons. He encouraged taking a few minutes, several times a day, to breathe slowly and deeply, focusing on your breath. This will calm and soothe you and help you to slow down and get centered.
  6. Recite your favorite inspirational quote, passage, or affirmation a few times, slowly and deliberately, while giving it your total attention. One of my favorite affirmations is: This day I choose to live in perfect peace.

Cultivate Calmness

Although you are taking positive steps to relax, do not feel that you must live your life in slow motion. Your goal is to touch your inner fountain of calmness and bring that calmness to everything you do. This focused calmness will bring clarity, richness, and new energy to your life. 

I know of no more effective way of bringing about relaxation, calmness, and a slower pace than through meditation—turning within in silence and contemplating your true nature as God created you. The calmness you feel during this daily practice will stay with you in everything you do. 

Take time to nurture and protect that calmness by meditating regularly. You’ll find that your life will become more rewarding, you’ll get more accomplished, and you’ll have more fun. Paradoxically, you will have more time to celebrate life when you incorporate meditation into your daily lifestyle. 

Take time every day to cultivate calmness, and offer that calmness to everyone you meet. What a wonderful gift to give!

Enjoy this podcast with Evelyn Foreman — Coming Present to Peace: Guest Barbara Schmidt

About the Author

For more than 30 years, Susan Smith Jones, Ph.D., has been one of the world's most recognizable names and faces in the fields of holistic health, anti-aging, human potential, and balanced living. She taught health and fitness at UCLA for 30 years, travels worldwide as a motivational speaker, and is the author of over 25 books, including her new “healthy lifestyle” series of books: The Curative Kitchen & Lifestyle, Living on the Lighter Side and Healthy, Happy & Radiant … at Any Age, as well as her other celebrated books Recipes for Health BlissThe Joy Factor, and Walking on Air. To order her books or to learn more about her work, visit SusanSmithJones.com.

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