Saturday, August 29, 2009
Relax! This works...
I have been knitting a scarf out of some bamboo/cotton fibre that I got for a whole $1 per ball at the op shop. It is beautifully soft and a pretty antique pink colour. I am just doing straight knitting -nothing fancy, no pattern, no counting. I came home from work the other day and sat for 10 minutes or so knitting -not watching TV, not listening to anything -just knitting. I noticed that my breathing slowed right down, and that I felt more relaxed than I had before I started.
It occurred to me then that I am often surprised at the activities which help me, make me feel better and more hopeful and more energetic, and those which do not.
I am surprised to discover that, in this journey towards the simple life, that when I am cooking I am totally focused on the task at hand, and that even though cooking can be quite energetic, I am usually happier than before . I used this knowledge yesterday when I felt that, having had a very stressful week at work, I needed to make sure my weekend was restorative. It was quite cold outside and with two sick men in the house, there were not so many options open to me. So I decided to cook up a storm -making banana chip cookies, banana bread and a loaf in the bread maker.
The end result -little 'treats' to have with coffee, the satisfaction of a job well done, a feeling of abundance about the place.
The same thing happens when I work in the garden. It is hard work, it is often very repetitive, but the elation which comes after I have had a morning in the garden is hard to find from many other sources. When I go out and pick my own cauliflowers or a bunch of nasturtiums for the house, then that feeling of self-reliance, of abundance, of richness -is very powerful.
Watching TV is of course supposed to be relaxing. It certainly slows the metabolism down, but I am not confident that it has much of a restorative effect on me. I feel after it a bit like you do if you take a sleeping pill -sort of rested, sort of muddled and not really refreshed.
In contrast, I have devoured a novel this weekend -bought second hand from a bookshop -one of the Donna Leon novels about a detective in Venice. It was a true escape -entertaining, relaxing, witty-and let's face it there is not much on TV which can really be said to be of the same standard.
When my DH and I get up awfully early to go for an hour's walk around our suburb before we go to work, we are going against the received wisdom of our society largely -that sleeping in is better than getting up, and that driving is better than walking. Not many walkers accompany us in the depths of our winter, and even in the better weather the numbers of walkers or joggers are small in comparison with the number of people in our suburb. Yet when I make myself go out like this I inevitably find that -about half the way around-I suddenly feel more alive, more aware of the beauty around me, more hopeful and more energetic.
If this is true -that these simple activities are actually restorative -and yet they cost very little-then it would seem that most of us are hoodwinked into spending our money on things which will do us very little good. A night out once in a while is fantastic -and I love live music as much as anyone -but I do not need a hectic social life or expensive toys or entertainments to restore my sense of well being.
What I need mostly is to take notice of what works and what doesn't -and to do more of the stuff that works.
I hope you have had a relaxing weekend.