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Take the Time to Just Stop

Sara Lazarovska's picture

Blazing heat grazing my skin. Then sudden coldness, the hairs on my arms standing up. And repeat. Countless times. I am at the cloisters and I am listening to the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone soundtrack on my MP3 player. The sounds of "Hedwig's Theme" flutter through my earphones, first softly, then powerfully, as I take a deep breath of fresh air. The blanket I am sitting on prevents me from touching the grass, but I can still feel it under the blanket with my hands and bare feet. There is a soft breeze coming from some unknown place, welcome when the sun is out, unwanted when gray clouds cover the sky and a chill runs through my bones. Although I am a person that generally likes the cold and cloudy, today I feel grateful for the sun and warmth, for it was more inviting than my stuffy room. Being out in the open gives me a clear head and focus, helping me with my task at hand: self-guided meditation and purposeful muscle relaxation. I have been so stressed out this whole past week that I have rarely had the time to stop and take a cleansing breath to relax. Therefore, I decided that when I visited the cloisters this week I would focus on unwinding from the busy week and spend some time on myself. Even though the course is titled 'Ecological Imaginings' and it may not necessarily immediate allude to paying attention to oneself, I feel that I am just as an important part of the environment and the ecosystem that we call 'Bryn Mawr' as any bird, squirrel, insect, or plant. Furthermore, I choose to observe my inner self and how I am feeling and being in relation to my surroundings. I realize that I am far more productive when I shut the world around me away and focus all my attention on a single task; that is why I choose to listen to music, which seems so artificial when compared to my location in the cloisters. As I relax and all the tension in my body goes away, I finally feel properly awake and alert, something that I have been missing for the past six days. And I decide, here and now, to do such exercises of relaxation and tension relieving every night before I go to sleep in order to have a "productive sleep" (i.e. to actually rest while I am sleeping) and harvest as much from every day as possible, not spend half of my time trying to convince myself to do my assigned work or to waken. On that last note, I leave the cloisters in a happy, calm, and aware state of mind, ready to take on the (rest-of-the-)day's challenges.

Note: Although this post is written in the present tense, it was typed up after the experience described. Also, the relaxing techniques I used are called 'stop exercises' - if anyone's interested in learning more about them let me know.