Thursday, March 27, 2014

Find Your Zen

by Judy

One of my favorite ways to get some quiet/me time is to take a day for a photography shoot.  Being out in nature, whether by myself or with a photography friend, is just what I need to center and quiet my ever-racing mind.  However, this winter has not been a 'taking a day for a photography shoot friendly winter.'  As we all know, it's been a snowy winter, but also a brutally cold winter.  Here in New York, spending any amount of time outside was just not an option most days.

As I searched for the 'thing' to replace my all day outdoor photo shoot, I remembered my weekly acupuncturist visits several years ago for treatment of back pain.  I remembered how I began to look forward to my visits so much I called them my mini vacations. 

It was a community acupuncture office.  This means that I was not in a sterile white room, with overhead florescent lights. Instead, it was a large room, with floor to ceiling windows that let in beautiful light.  Area rugs and lush potted plants decorated the room.  Placed strategically around this room were many reclining chairs.  When I entered the room I could choose whichever chair called to me.  Sometimes I was the only patient there.  Other times there were several other patients being treated too (hence, the term "community acupuncture").  A track of ocean sounds played softly from one corner of the room, and Asian style music peacefully played from another corner of the room.  It was very meditative for me, and the only time I could quiet my mind enough to say I truly meditated. 

Sadly, I don't have the time or the money to just visit this office for the sake of quieting my mind, but I did find a way to recreate that experience in my own home - sans the acupuncture needles.  Several times this winter, when I had the house to myself, I would close the blinds on my family room windows, climb into my husband's recliner (that I have always hated, but am now learning to appreciate!), cover with a warm blanket, play one of the many soft, relaxing sounds from my iPhone app, "Relax Melodies," close my eyes and let myself be taken to a quiet place where my mind wasn't racing. 

I'm very happy that spring has arrived, even if it's only arrived on the calendar at this point.  My all day, outdoor photography shoots will be coming back soon, and I can feel myself relaxing just thinking about it! In the meantime, or actually, in addition to those days, I will be happy to find some quiet time in my husband's recliner, listening to soothing sounds. 

We dedicate so much of our time to our children, partners, work, and miscellaneous other activities that we tend to stretch ourselves too thin.  Remember, the busier we get, the more important it is to find quiet time. If, like me, your usual quiet time activity isn't working out, you need to find something to replace it - at least temporarily.

We need to find a way to center ourselves so that the important things in life - well hey - life itself, doesn't pass us by as we rush from one thing to the next. It sounds cliche, but it is so important.  "Me time" results in a happier, healthier mindset and prevents burnout. Dotti and Kelly talked this week about "contemplative photography" and "really seeing the beauty around us."  If our minds are clear, those things come far easier. And you know what?  Everything else we want to do, or have to do, will come easier too!

 How do you relax?  Truly, completely relax?  Is it as simple for you as reading a book while enjoying a cup of tea?  Or do you have to take extra steps like I do to really find that quiet place?  Maybe we could borrow a few ideas from each other!  Please share!

Our "reflections" theme is almost near its end, but you still have time to post your beautiful reflection photos in our flickr group and on Instagram.  It's been a joy to see all of the photos that you've shared with us, and we're happy that you're playing along!  Happy Spring!


terriporter said...

I feel relaxed already just reading your soothing post! I know I spent a lot of years rushing around, doing things for everybody else and not taking any time for me. It's a mother's lot in life I think. But these days I make sure to take time for myself and that time is usually spent shooting photos, either alone or with a friend or two. I'm lucky that I live where I can do that any time of year and I find that there are days when I just KNOW I need to get out and shoot. My camera is calling me to come out and play and my whole outlook can change with just a little time behind the camera. I've also been taking a few more trips, even alone when my husband can't go, to get away from the daily grind and they are so restorative! So glad you found a way to relax and take some time for yourself. Lovely post, Judy!

Anonymous said...

Judy, this sounds like a wonderful quiet time routine that I love to follow! I however, raise all the blinds that face my backyard, grab a cup of coffee and retreat to my chair with bankie in tow and my little chihuahua in my lap. I turn off that "idiot box" as my daddy calls it lol, and anything else thats making noise. Then I just let my mind be free and mostly daydream about being outside again, in the garden, birds singing, butterflies hatching and of course my camera in my hands! Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful Thursday!

Kim Stevens said...

My favorite go to place to relax...well I guess I have a couple. The beach...a walk on the birding trail, and to my favorite 8 acres of family owned nursery (they all know my first name). Since I've gotten older, I very much dislike being busy and need a certain amount of quiet time everyday or I feel out of balance. Although I have learned this week, that walking the bird trail is best not done at dusk, as a wild boar snorted at me from behind the bushes/trees where there is a small beaten down path from the deer...I've never walked so fast in my life. That put a little damper on the relaxation part of THAT walk, lol! Just looking at your stones relaxes me.

susan said...

Taking a moment here and there, finding the time for yourself…so important for your mental and physical well being. Thank you Judy for this very important reminder to make the time…for ourselves. For me, it's getting outside…stepping out of my studio and breathing fresh air…going for a jog…walk…taking some photos. My furry friend seems to enjoy it, too. :)

kelly said...

i so totally get this judy. i too crave a little quiet time in my life to regroup. and it's always in those times that i feel reconnected to the magic and beauty in my life. so hoping spring finds its way to you soon my friend!!

Dotti said...

Your photo just oozes serenity! Love it. I'm fortunate now that I'm retired to have ample 'me time' and it really has made a difference in all areas of my life. When I'm on the treadmill in the mornings, I read on my iPad instead of watching TV; while waiting in the carpool line for my granddaughter, I read on my Kindle {I actually get there half an hour early to have that time to read!}; by 8 PM, I turn off the computer and electronics, get out my trusty Kindle and read some more. And always photography sets my heart and mind to rights. Lovely post, Judy!

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