Disasters have filled our daily papers: tornadoes, floods, fires…all of these are examples of stress that comes to us.  We don’t have much choice.


This week I have been thinking about all the areas of life in which we do have choices;  for example, the kinds of stimulation – sounds, sights, tastes, and smells – with which we are surrounded.


Lately, I have been choosing to start my day (right after my meditation) by listening to some music that brings to me incredible feelings of peace and soaring optimism. Starting each day this way has brought me new levels of energy and creativity.


Yes, crises – large and small – do occur.  But somehow they count less if you have already established inner peace and strength.


Do you choose things – pictures, music, exercise, hobbies –  in your life that you can deliberately turn to when you want to re-charge?  That’s the theme of today’s article.



(For those of you who are curious as to what my choices are that do so much for me, I listen to a CD called “A Song in Season”, by composer John Rutter.  The two songs that particularly thrill me are “Look To the Day”, and “Look At the World.”)


Do You Know the Difference Between Distraction and Relaxation?

Do you find that, when you’re blocked on a task or an idea or a problem, you absent-mindedly turn on a computer game and go through it automatically?   The jangly music drives you to make quick choices, and you get caught up in the next move, and then the next…until quite a bit of time has elapsed, and your problem is still out there, waiting for you to address it.  You haven’t really relaxed.  And you still don’t have a solution.


Or, after a long, hard day, you flop down in the evening and turn on the TV set for a “few minutes”, only to shake yourself fully awake and discover you have not been watching it for quite a while. Instead, you‘re in a kind of stupor.


Then you stagger off to bed, only to find that you’re suddenly not sleepy.  The flickering light of the TV screen has cut down your body’s production of melatonin, the chemical you need in order to create sleep.  You may be tired, but you’re not ready to sleep.


In each of these cases, time has passed that hasn’t been productive in any way, and it hasn’t relaxed you.  Don’t forget, taking time to relax is being productive, too.


We turn to distractions through automatic behavior, rather than being mindful of the stimuli to which we expose ourselves and by selecting things that fulfill our current needs for calmness or for energy.


Relaxing activities should make you feel better after you do them; such as

  • calmer,
  • rested,
  • more energized
  • surer that you can solve your problems,
  • or happier

If you’re feeling a little irritated or discouraged, or if your energy drops off, take a look at what you were doing just prior to the onset of these feelings.


Just for today observe what happens when you automatically seek distraction and ask yourself  “Is this really what I want?  And what can I do in a short period of time that would truly relax me?”


Remember, you have a choice.


If you can’t think of relaxing kind of stimulation to add to your life, you already have one technique  for bringing peace and energy to your body- just  breathe, slowly and deeply!


(The above article is from my new CD audio program,  “30 Steps to Serenity…in just minutes”, short audio modules that you can carry with you all day long to remind yourself of how you can stay on the path to a peaceful and healthy life even as you navigate through your typical work day.)