With the hustle and bustle of every day life, it’s hard to focus on the task in front of you without letting your to-do list invade your mind. Although our hectic lives hardly leave time for peace and quiet, a few moments of serenity can help clear your mind in order to take on the day.
I first learned the importance of finding peace before taking on a task through an acting class. Before class would begin, we would have the opportunity to check-in with one another about what was going on in our lives. Once we put all of our stressors out on the table, we would do a few exercises to put these concerns to the side, or take the emotions we were feeling and apply them to our characters.
I have utilized these exercises, both in my theatrical endeavors and in my everyday life. We can’t ignore the world that is constantly buzzing around us, but if we recognize the amount of things that are happening and the emotions they are causing, we can tackle each of them one by one instead of chaotically trying to complete a jumble of “stuff to-do.”
Here are a few exercises to help you clear your mind so you can take on the day. I’ve used them to relax before performing a scene, before taking a test, and even before going to bed. With a more relaxed body and mind, completing your goals won't seem quite so daunting.
Lie down on your back with your face pointed towards the sky. Close your eyes and focus on the placement of your body. Think about where your head is in relation to your feet, your arm in relation to your chest, etc. Then, tighten every single muscle in your body. Your face, your arms, your legs, your butt, your hands and your feet should all feel tight. Then, very slowly, release each muscle in your body to a state in which it feels relaxed. Start at your head and work your way down, focusing on each muscle individually. Try to get as meticulous as loosening each finger and toe one by one. I find that the extremity of having my body feel extremely tight compared to having all my muscles feel relaxed afterwards is helpful to release the tension from the day. I try to save this exercise for nights when I'm having trouble falling asleep; this way I can wake up for the next day feeling relaxed and refreshed.
This exercise can be done standing up or lying down on your back. Close your eyes, and begin reflecting on your emotions. Think about what is making you stressed, upset, angry or anxious. Really concentrate on these emotions and reflect on them. Then, when you’re ready, gather the energy of these emotions in the center of your body, right above your abdomen. Focus on taking the negative energy from your head, hands and feet. Hold the energy you’ve collected above your abdomen. “Holding your energy” is up to personal interpretation. Many times when I do this exercise, if I’m truly concentrating, I can feel a ball of heat between my cupped hands. Concentrate on the fact that you are holding your negative energy in your hands, and you cannot accomplish your day if you hold onto these negative sentiments. Release your ball of negative energy back into the universe and open your eyes to start again with only positive energy in your body.
These exercises can be done individually, but it is also helpful to do them in a group with a leader narrating the steps of the process. Remember, it's important to recognize your stress rather than simply ignoring it. If you can manage your anxiety and stress with these simple and quick exercises, the day is yours to conquer! After all, there is no day but today.