|A regular patient came into the office a few months ago.
For the sake of this story, I'll call him "Bubba."
While he was waiting, he sat next to another gentleman that was new to the office. They began a conversation.
Bubba noticed the man was reading a book.
He asked what the book was about. The man told him it was about "living in the moment." Bubba asked what that meant.
"Well," the man replied, "I am trying to learn to live in the moment. That means to be focused on this very moment in time and place; to be aware of your existence in a more exquisite, crystalline sense. I have been having a lot of stress in my life and I am seeking an inner peace."
Bubba nodded thoughtfully as he sat back comfortably in the chair with his arms crossed and legs stretched forward.
He looked toward his boots. "Hmmm, I guess I can see why a fellow would want to live in the moment. How long you been working on that?"
The man continued to sit upright with his ankles crossed beneath the chair. His posture was evidence of a long tenure of intentional effort to perfect his sitting position.
"I have been studying with a mentor for a number of years," he said. "I am gradually growing to understand the processes that lead to a deeper understanding of life."
Bubba nodded again respectfully.
"Well," he replied earnestly, "I don't know about all that. I don't tend to plan too far ahead, and these days I can hardly remember what I did before lunch, so I guess I'm sort of living in the moment already."
About that time Bubba was called back to the treatment room.
He stood, reached out to shake the other man's hand, and said, "It was nice to meet you. You seem like a nice fellow; I hope you and your mentor get this all worked out."
Everyone wants to find their version of "inner peace."
Most psychological counselors would point out that inner calm is impossible without resolving internal conflicts.
Clerics would quickly add that an active spiritual life is essential as well.
Financial advisors would recommend that you establish a sensible budget and live within the confines of reasonable expenditures.
To all this sound advice I would add that keeping your body more fully functional by consuming a modest nutrient-rich diet and moderate levels of exercise is important.
After reviewing all the advice available, living a life with "inner peace" often comes down to creating balance in your life.
For many people today, one aspect of life that is inadequate is effective relaxation.
Our lives are often too full of responsibilities (real or perceived) obligations, and commitments.
Even in our down time, we are drawn to watching television full of drama, trauma and the ridiculous.
Although television can provide a distraction from life that feels like relaxation, in fact studies show that television viewing may actually increase stress levels.
True relaxation often involves at least some degree of mental activity.
By diverting your mental energy to doing crosswords, sudoku, tracking game, calculating golf shots or other recreation, you are effectively prevented from worrying about job problems, relationship issues, or financial worries.
Recreation is more effective at relieving stress if there is a physical element involved as well.
Sports are good for many to relax, although it is possible for some to become so focused on their competitive performance during sports that it becomes a significant source of stress instead of stress relief.
If you are feeling over-stressed, you will likely benefit from intentionally adding some recreation to your schedule.
If the activities you do now aren't working for you, make a change.
Try something new. Try a new sport, take some dance lessons or learn a new skill.
Whatever form of recreation you choose, try to make sure that you actually gain a sense of calm and renewed energy.
If it's not really helping, try something different until you get it right.
Contact Dr. Mark Kestner at mkestner@DrKestner.com.