When I had free access to dad’s small acreage in Wayne County, Nebraska, early mornings were set aside to enjoy the dawn. Even though the place was across the road from a truck trailer manufacturing factory, the atmosphere was silent and peaceful before the arrival of the first assembly shift.
On clear or partly cloudy mornings I sat on the elevated concrete slab that served as the house’s front porch. With coffee mug in hand, I contemplated the eastern horizon. Each sunrise was different in some way from the others.
I was happiest if scattered clouds were present in the East because partly cloudy skies enable the most spectacular visual displays just before, during, and shortly following dawn. The most dramatic sunrises are those in December and January. The sky appears more crystalline in deepest winter and clouds have a different character. The chill in the air enhances mindfulness towards the surroundings.
On August mornings before the oppressive heat and humidity settles in, the sounds of crickets and other nocturnal insects provide musical accompaniment to these informal meditations. As the eastern sky begins to brighten, robins’ bold chirping provide counterpoint to the overnight insect symphony. The presence of the insect and bird songs is one of the main aspects that differentiate summer early mornings from winter early mornings.
Very early mornings are not the only times for profound relaxation. Breaks in late morning and mid afternoon provide opportunities to observe daytime phenomenon. Often, these times can be spent with someone else. So, daytime relaxation can be more social, even if it is with a cat.
Complications with dad’s estate forced us to sell the acreage to a neighbor. He has dismantled the little farm and will be moving the house to a different location. That particular place of peacefulness is no more. It is a perfect example of the impermanent nature of life and things.
Of course, it’s not necessary to retreat to a rural locale in order to relax. We can take time-outs nearly anywhere. Whenever I feel rushed I look for a place to pause. It’s time to take a few long breaths, concentrate on them. If there is more time, a body scan is in order. That is paying close attention to every part of the body in sequence from head to toes and then toes to head. It’s amazing how refreshed and relaxed one feels after doing a simple body scan.
Most of the time I feel more relaxed alone, but at other times, being with friends and family makes me feel more at ease and comfortable. It all depends upon who is providing the company. There is no faking the authentic comfort of being near a lover or close confidant. Relaxing moments with such a person are incomparably beautiful.
Each person has their own unique ways to unwind and relax. Some are more physically active than others. We all need to defuse and to contemplate. At least once each day we need to reconnect with that special place and have a look inside and outside. When we can find moments to relax during the day, we are better able to relax into sleep at night.
Go ahead and take a few deep, mindful breaths right now.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Dr. Michio Kaku. “When I get bored, or get stuck on an equation, I like to go ice skating, but it makes you forget your problem. Then you can tackle the problem with a fresh new insight. Einstein liked to play the violin to relax. Every physicist likes to have a past time. Mine is ice skating.”