Stress-reducing exercise: just 15 minutes a day!

It is the inevitable by-product of living in a technologically-dependent, socially-connected, and minute-managed world that peace and calm get left in the wake.     Texts, emails and cell-phone calls fly in faster and more frequently than a speeding bullet.  It seems there is hardly a moment in the day when we’re not busy managing the demands of work, family and our increasingly larger social world that no longer can be shut out of our lives even for a few minutes.    We can no longer close the door behind us and expect that the world will be left outside.    Though staying connected is important, it is no more valuable than time alone to calm our thoughts and our bodies, to restore energy and peace,  and to reduce the ravages of stress.     And, you have a right to a few minutes to yourself!    You can decide to make time alone an equal priority.     Try this 15-minute a day refresher:

First:   Establish a quiet place in your home.   Use a candle, a cross, icon or other meaningful symbol for focus.  Pick a book of short devotional thoughts or spiritual / Scriptural readings.    Decide if you want to sit or kneel and prepare your place accordingly with a pillow, mat or stool.  When it is time, go to your quiet place and wait silently for a moment; breathe…relax…gently focus or close your eyes.   After awhile read your devotion then be quiet again and let the thoughts settle in….pray….don’t leave quickly, but quietly move back into your day.  

1.  5 minutes in the morning:   How you begin your day is most important!     Almost every important religious tradition speaks to the necessity of starting the day correctly.    After one of the busiest days recorded in Jesus’ ministry, the next morning the disciples found him out alone, having risen early to pray.    Get up just 5 minutes earlier and spend it in quietude and you will come to see what a difference it will make!

2. 5 minutes at lunch:   If at home, go to your quiet place again or find some place at work where you can retreat for just 5 minutes.    Go there around noon and shut out all thoughts of work.   Sit quietly, eyes closed, and body relaxed.    Breathe gently and just think about your breath.  Recall, if you wish, the truths of your early morning devotion.    Keep your thoughts away from work, problems, or “to-do”s.   For a few minutes, just be at peace.   End with a simple prayer of thanksgiving and then resume your day’s activities.

3.  5 minutes to end the day:    As the day ends, return for just a few moments to your quiet place.    After your few moments of relaxing, focusing and breathing you may want to give thanks as you recall the day just past.    Briefly examine your conscience and pray, clearing it of all that disturbs you.   

Try using this 15-minute a day refresher for a month and see if your sense of peace and calm have increased and stress decreased.  You’re worth it!

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