Why you should take up “smoking” – well, not really…
Adrenal fatigue is a popular concept. We live in a society that is constantly “on”. There is pressure in every corner to produce, show up, do more. We have the experience of being constantly adrenalized. The lights can always be on, information about everything going on everywhere is constantly available. Neither the night nor the time of year give us respite from life’s demands. From a young age, children are concerned about exams and good colleges, it is endless.
So we get worn out; wired and tired. It gets hard to rest when the time to rest arrives. How do we stop the cycle? I recommend that at regular intervals during the day, you take your foot off the gas. Come out of the fight-or-flight state and relax for a moment. A kind of micro deep relaxation can allow your mind and chemistry to shift gears and refresh.
The ideal ritual would look something like the following. Every hour or two, stop what you are doing. Do an easy physical relaxation, scanning your body for where it is holding tension. In addition to the common tight spots like shoulders and neck, I suggest you notice your toes, the back of your tongue, your buttocks and anus, the back of your eyes, the weight of your intestines; take a few deep soft breaths and imagine the tension washing out of you. Relax your gaze, smile a little, take a few more easy breaths, again, letting ease flow through your body and let yourself feel refreshed. The whole thing can take a minute (more or less as you desire). Then go back (or forward) to what you are doing. Do this hourly. Taking your “foot off the gas” allows a reset, a change of circulation, neurological information and perspective. I think it prevents the tension of life from coiling ever tighter all day long until we are too tight to rest in a refreshing matter. If we diffuse the tension all day long in these micro relaxations, we function better during the day and rest more deeply at night.
It occurs to me that I am describing something like a cigarette break, only without the cigarette. No wonder smoking is so popular. Except for the cigarette, it is a brilliant habit, a contemplative practice. Think about it, at a regular interval, a person takes a break. Maybe they are feeling tense, or over worked or bored or a strong emotion, or maybe they just would benefit from a break, from a change of pace. They get up, go outside, relax anticipating the upcoming experience, gaze off into the distance and let their mind relax. Then they take ten deep relaxing breaths. Of course, the nicotine has a psychoactive effect. But the relaxation begins before the cigarette.
So, okay, I don’t really want you to take up smoking. Please, don’t; the price is too high, the negative health effects are real and profound. But, the structure of the habit as a mindfulness practice is fabulous. Too bad we don’t have a construct to value mindfulness meditation or relaxation breaks. Even though our society decries the negative impact of smoking, we understand how it necessitates taking a break.
To rebuild our reserves of energy, to create a nervous system capable of restorative sleep, releasing tension, taking deep breaths, refreshing our focus at regular intervals during the day is profound. Consider the model presented by a cigarette break, just skip the cigarette.