We’ve all heard the saying ‘stop and smell the roses’ and maybe we’ve even been guilty of thinking how quaint and old-fashioned it sounds. When I mentioned this saying to a friend who leads a fast paced life, she replied, ‘Who’s got time to stop and smell the roses?’ To give her credit, she smiled as she said this. Yes, we’ve all seen that ironic smile, that suggests, ‘well, it’s all very well to say stop and smell the roses, and I would if I had the time, but really, I’ve got more important things to do.’
Stopping to smell the roses is an excellent strategy in our how to relax repertoire. Very few people have a good grasp of what it means to relax. Countless words have been written about ‘how to relax’, in fact, whole manuals have been devoted to the subject. People have read these words and made a resolution to learn to relax. Or perhaps they’ve sighed and thought ‘if only…’ and recounted to themselves all the reasons that stop them from putting into practice the very sensible ‘how to relax’ tips they’ve read. Most of us have been guilty of this sort of thing at some time in our lives. I know I have. Learning how to relax can be difficult. In our modern, demand-filled society, it’s not easy to set aside the time to learn how to relax. Many of us have forgotten what it means to relax. Truly relax.
Truly relaxing means letting go of all our internal drivers that tell us we ‘should’ be doing something every minute of the day! Maybe eliminating the ‘shoulds’ from our vocabulary every now and again is the beginning of learning how to relax. Try this idea – outrageous as it might sound – just relax and do nothing. Yes, absolutely nothing – just be in the moment and enjoy it for what it brings you – a sense of being calm to your core.
Why not go to your local park and lie down on the grass, feel the earth beneath you and admire the scudding clouds in the sky? Why not lie back on a soft couch and meditate on the ceiling? Take time out to empty your mind of thoughts, concentrate on taking deep breaths – instead of all those shallow ones we take most of the time – and listen to the sounds around you – or commune with silence.
The practice of doing nothing – but relaxing – and finding your calm core sounds almost decadent. That little voice might be sounding alarm bells about the time it takes to do nothing. It’s going to take time out of your busy schedule. You know – the one that doesn’t allow you time to yourself and winds you up until you feel like a top about to spin out of control. Silence that little voice. Still your mind. Breathe. Relax. Enjoy the time you do absolutely nothing.
Doing nothing. It could just save your mental health. And if you’re near a rose bush, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.