Every spring in Texas I look forward to the fruit trees flowering. This one pictured above is my favorite. Once a year this tree flowers for about 2 weeks. I don’t know if it’s a peach or pear tree or something else. But the color of the flowers is mesmerizing. This year there were even a few blossoms that were a much lighter shade of pink.
Although I enjoy spring flowers, I don’t always notice them. I’ve passed by this tree more than a dozen times in the past week and this is the first time I’ve noticed it.
So it goes that many times this year I will pass by this tree and not even look at it. I’ll be thinking about a problem I’m trying to solve or I’ll be stressed about something. Herbert Benson, M.D., labeled this state of being as a hypermetabolic state. Benson described this is in his book, The Relaxation Response, as a state of increased oxygen consumption, increased heart rate, and increased blood pressure. In short, it’s stress. And research shows that chronic stress makes us sick: http://bit.ly/10eN9cH
Think about it, how much of the day are you working, dealing with problems, trying to get to-do lists done? And when you do, how relaxed do you feel? Most of the time we move through life in action or think in patterns that are very automatic. It’s like walking down the street and not seeing flowers in bloom.
I know about stress and it’s effects. But if I don’t remember to do so, I can go through a whole day without actively trying to reduce my stress. Which could suggest that I am stressed out alot!
How often do you feel stress? Rarely, several times a day, most of the day?
What are you doing to deal with stress? How often?
When I do notice flowers, I found myself feeling calmer and more relaxed. I find myself removed from the issues, problems, or fears that have, up until then, occupied my attention. Contemplating flowers is an example of meditation which research has shown to lower heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and decrease respiratory rate. This allows your body to rest and restore itself. And meditation can increase alpha waves in the brain, which can facilitate more creative problem solving.
So when I can, I practice finding rest and relaxation looking at flowers. Talk about flower power!
If you need help with meditation and relaxation, Benson’s book is an easy introduction. Try a meditation class or try some mental health counseling. Take a few breaks each day to stop what you are doing and meditate. It is a great way to improve your health, well-being and even your thinking! For 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Set alerts on your phones or computers to remember that you need to disconnect from what you are doing and relax throughout the day. Focus on your breathing if you cannot contemplate something serene like flowers.
Find reminders to relax.