Our minds are never still. We race our bodies to get from one demand to the other. Subconsciously, we allow our surroundings to influence our thoughts and actions. We do not take time to just be. Our worlds are so caught up in the spin that chaos and craze are the norm. Overload, stress, and anxiety, without us even knowing, become our existence.
An appropriate visual analogy is the old-fashioned wooden top spinning out of control. This motion is comparable to our minds and bodies, when affected by life’s demands, priorities, expectations, and commitment. The endless opportunities for distraction, most of which we can’t even identify, collectively keep us from entering a place we can call zero time zone—a space in time to connect with and ground ourselves.
It is the base camp of sorts for our inner peace, contentment, and true relaxation, where we do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. We are just there, breathing and existing. We consciously ignore our environments full of opportunities, and we just decompress. We unwind, unload, and release ourselves from the “spin.” When is the last time you woke up and realized you had to entire day to do nothing? Did you consciously ignore opportunities for distraction? Were you able to join the zero time zone even for just an hour?
We push and pull, give and take, without knowing that we are choosing this lifestyle. We chose to participate in the race that has no finish line or in the spin effect that becomes dizzying. Once we are in it, we have no knowledge of how to exit. So, in order to enter the time zone where we allow zero influence on our minds and behaviors, we have to concentrate on choice. We have to consciously choose to step out of the spin of life. We have to know we have options, and we have to keep familiar mind-driving thoughts from leading our actions:
• How is this going to feel? I’m terrified to say “no” to my boss.
• I can’t stop now. I have not checked off every item on my “to do” list.
• What will they think if I can’t make the deadline? I am letting them down.
• My workout can wait. There is always tomorrow.”
Daily thoughts such as these keep us focused more on how we are perceived by others than how we perceive ourselves. So choice is key. By choosing to center our thinking and to stop self-sabotaging thoughts, we are exiting internal and external chaos and gaining perspective on balance.
Having a personal centering routine is critical for juggling life’s demands. Some of us have a morning routine that we use to help achieve daily balance. Some of us meditate, breathe deeply, or journal. Some of us rely on our night time recap of the day to bring us closure and contentment. Here are some other suggestions for entering the zero time zone.
1. Give each day a personal purpose. “Today I will _____.” Will you be kind to your body? Will you say “no” to another obligation? Will you spend quality time with your spouse?
2. Choose a small amount of time to do nothing. Find a bench and sit up straight. Take in the smells and sounds. Pay attention to how your body feels. Do not allow thoughts to swirl in your head. Just be.
3. Be aware of the mind’s tricks. Don’t believe the thoughts that tell you to keep pushing. They are not reality.
4. Become friends with your physical and emotional limits. No longer ignore them. Put sleep, proper nutrition, or spirituality first. Prioritize the components in life that make you feel truly balanced.
5. Learn how to calm your mind. Have gentle conversations with it and disallow its power of immediacy.
6. Ignore pressures and needs, especially those that pull you toward proving your self-worth: the pressure to perform, the pressure to belong, the desire to compete, and the need to be approved of. The reality is that no one has your best interest in mind except for yourself.
7. Develop a centered point of reference to visit when overloaded. This place should be your ultimate feel of rest.
8. Practice being alone, noting how you feel with just yourself. Then demand it and make it a daily occurrence.
9. Pay attention to deep breathing. It is needed for overall wellbeing.
10. Remind yourself that you are in charge of you.
Lori Bender, MSW, is a professional, certified life and wellness coach and owner of Carolina Lifestyle Coaching and Consulting, LLC. For information, call 540-256-2589 or visit www.carolinalifestylecoachingandconsulting.com.