In today’s modern world, it seems like time is a luxury few of us can afford. In a city like Vancouver, something is always pulling our attention and focus away from where we’d like it to be. If we’re not stuck in traffic, we’re caught on a conference call or distracted by the stress of our job or family or friends instead of enjoying the world around us.
Rather than just succumb to a life of never ending stress, many people agree that taking one hour each day to focus on something other than the daily grind can have far-reaching benefits. It might seem like a lot, a whole hour each and every day for just you, but once you get into the habit of giving yourself one uninterrupted, gloriously quiet hour, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
So, how do you do it and how do you make the most of your one hour?
Step one: pick your hour (and stick to it)
Some people find that the hour before they fall asleep works best. This option has lots of benefits — you power off all your devices, slow your mind down from the busy day and prepare yourself for sleep. Others like the hour after they finish work when they can decompress from the stress of the office before going home. Another option is the hour before everyone else wakes up in the morning, the hour when dawn is breaking and the world is just waking up.
Whatever hour of the day suits you best is perfect, but you will need to make a commitment to stick it until it becomes a healthy habit you can’t break. And if it’s tough to find that hour, start with 15 minutes every day for a week, and increase it by 15 minutes each week. After a month, voila! You’ll have your hour.
Step two: decide what to do
So, you’ve freed up all this time, now what do you do? Well, that depends on you, but the point is to make this magic hour something free of chatter and full of reflection. Perhaps this means getting out in nature, in Vancouver there are no shortage of forest trails or oceanfront seawall to meander; perhaps it means heading to a coffee shop where you know no one so that you can write in your journal; perhaps it means waking up and meditating and practicing yoga or working on a hobby or talent you’ve wanted to cultivate. Whatever you decide to do with your hour, it should rejuvenate your soul in some way.
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Step three: adjust your attitude
It may take a couple of weeks to start seeing the benefits of your hour alone. In fact, you might be approaching it begrudgingly or finding it a waste of time. It’s not! You’ll see. But to get there, you need to be in the proper state of mind.
Try taking the first ten minutes of your hour to sit in a still meditation to slow down the chattering mind. Another way to speed up the benefits of your special hour is to intentionally practice gratitude. Try this: at the beginning of the hour each day, think of five things you are grateful for and focus your attention on them. Draw them into your mind’s eye one by one and conjure up a genuine sense of gratitude. It can be anything from friends and family to something as simple as the beautiful weather or the nutritious breakfast you had that morning. As soon as you begin to realize and have gratitude for the things in your life, you will be in the right head space to appreciate your hour and will want to make the most of it.
Setting aside an hour for yourself every day to de-stress and re-prioritize will have far reaching benefits. If you can keep it up and turn it into a habit, you will likely become calmer, more focused, productive, creative, fit and just plain happier. If you are finding yourself uninspired after a few weeks, switch it up, find a new hobby or walking trail or place to meditate. Oh, and one more piece of advice — don’t feel guilty about it!
At Naked Truth Yoga Inc., we encourage our students in our yoga teacher training programs to spend quality time reflecting on what their minds are chattering on about, to get out and connect with nature, and to take the time to be with themselves. Even if you’re not in a yoga teacher training program, just remember, nobody deserves an uninterrupted hour of peace more than you!