I recently shared with you how you can add points to your IQ by keeping your brain busy. All that rigorous brain exercise plus the stresses of everyday life can be exhausting. Which is why it is just as important to know how to give your brain a well-deserved vacation, too.
But before you rush to pack your bags I've got to tell you that taking your brain on vacation does not require a plane, train or automobile. The Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text, and, a couple millennia later, George Harrison suggests that "Without going out of your door, you can know all things on Earth". It's true--simply emptying your brain of clutter and just being has actual physical, mental, social and emotional benefits. Your brain deserves a meditation vacation.
It's mind blowing to think that the ancient Chinese witnessed the restorative and transformative powers of meditation over 2,500 years ago and that today we actually have the corroborating scientific evidence. Rebecca Gladding, M.D. explains it perfectly here, but, in general, meditation reforms the areas of the brain that foster anxiety, worry, and self-centeredness. It reduces our tendency to feel fear and increases our capacity to empathize.
Here would be the place that I would tell you exactly how to meditate so you could start pampering your over-worked brain right away. But I'm not even going to try. The way you meditate is personal to you, and I would simply encourage you to seek out any of the countless books, tutorials, courses, coaches and other resources out there to get you started.
Once you find a practice that works for you, build meditation into your daily routine. I can't think of many other 15-minute activities that pack so much benefit, and a daily meditation practice greatly enhances that benefit. I couldn't help but notice the recently released 2014 American Time Use Survey which found that we Americans basically use our leisure time to watch TV--about 3 hours a day. TV is a fine way to decompress, and there's a lot to watch right now, but it doesn't do a thing for our brains. If that report tells me anything, it's that we have time to meditate.
And because it is vacation season in the traditional sense, consider working meditation into your summer getaways. After all, one of the goals of a vacation is to get away from it all and come back relaxed and refreshed, right? But how often does that happen? We tend to seek out stimulation in any form and jump from experience to experience. That's fun, and great as far as feeding the brain new information, but you're not going to come back relaxed from a trip like that. Unless, that is, you find a way to meditate each day.
Even a beach vacation where you do nothing but sleep, eat, drink and lounge by the pool may not be as relaxing for your brain if you are thinking about work and checking emails. Free yourself from all of that by lying back on your lounge chair free from your phone, a book, or a magazine, and spending a few minutes thinking about nothing. That beach vacation will then be truly relaxing.
So, remember that just because you're taking a vacation doesn't mean you're actually giving your brain one. And even if you're not sure when your next vacation will take place (such is the life of an entrepreneur in the early stages!), your brain still deserves a break each and every day.