Don’t you want to get away from it all? Here is your chance. Cost free! You have everything you need and I’m confident you are capable of accomplishing it. This challenge appears deceptively simple and very difficult for most people to complete. The only skills required are sitting, breathing and counting. Relaxing is optional but encouraged. Oh, and a tiny time commitment. All you have to do to win this challenge is sit in one place, relax, and count your in and out breaths… slowly… In…..1000, out…..1000, in…..2000 out….2000, in…..3000….. and so on for five minutes. I have caught people cheating while trying to do this. What?!? Yep, Fast Counters! No, really.
In today’s America, and maybe elsewhere, there seems to be a need to fill up every microsecond of every day with something. News. email. streaming video, social media, fidgeting, music, etc. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed just thinking about this. Now, where did I put that spinner thing?
Anyway, maybe five minutes is too much time to ask of you. How about a one minute challenge? Right now, unless it’s unsafe for you to do so, take a timeout and get reasonably comfortably situated. In just a few seconds from now, I am going to ask you to stop reading. Pick a single spot on a wall (not a digital display) and stare at it. Notice the rhythm of your in and out breathing for 60 seconds. That’s only about 10 full, slow in-out breaths. Try it. No cheating. GO!
Welcome back. How do you feel? That should have been enough time to notice your body relax ever so slightly, maybe even a bit more than slightly. Check out your surroundings. Nothing negative likely happened. Probably no one even noticed you just took a major mental time out. I say major because it has probably been a long time since you have done anything this radical. Just sitting still and noticing your breathing for a whole minute. Way to go.
The real challenge is to extend the in-out breathing from one minute to five minutes. Maybe you will need to hide somewhere when you go for the full five minutes. Someone might catch you staring off into “inner” space and end up trying it. Soon all of America becomes unproductive for five whole minutes. What would happen to the economy? Nothing negative, I assure you. In fact, studies have shown people are more productive if they take periodic super short breaks..
Thoughts come and go very quickly. It is better to have something to focus on while counting your breaths than listening to the noise in your head. Breaking News: Most of us have lots of noise in our heads. If you aren’t already aware of how busy your brain is, you’ll find out when you loose track of counting your breaths.
Picture being on a beach listening to the waves, or a forest feeling the breeze as the wind blows through the trees. Do not listen to actual recorded sounds on your phone or computer… just use your mind. And, so your electronic pal doesn’t feel left out, do use your phone to set a five minute timer to remind you to return from the ‘”inner”’ world. If you don’t, then everyone in your office may go home at the end of the day and leave you at your desk staring at the wall.
Seriously though. Take the five minute challenge. Improve your health and productivity. I double dare you to relax a little and probably live longer. The only thing left to do is to ask yourself, “Where would I like to inner travel for five minutes today?”.