Meditation Techniques After a Mild Apocalypse (or bad day at work)

There are average days and then there are micro-apocalypses. They usually aren’t hard to tell apart. One is relatively chill and the other one may contain zombies and volcanos. We’ve all had a beastly shift at work, a brutal run of hours at home, or watched a burning blimp collapse onto all our hopes and dreams.

Relaxation Techniques After a Hard Days Work

Tough days sometimes leave you unable to turn off the machinery in your brain. The trauma is over, but the light show in your head continues.

I’ve struggled with these days and found a helpful exercise to derail those thoughts, to trip them up, so they don’t follow you all the way to bed. Maybe my method isn’t all that original, but I pass it along because I unearthed it for myself during one of my jogs after a stressful day. It utilizes nature which is usually affordable and conveniently located.

The anxiety isn’t in the cloudy thoughts as much as in the infrastructure they create. They take this allotment of memory space you’ve provided and begin replicating clones of bad code so that deleting it won’t be so easy.

Scott Sentell


Pre-Game Meditation Warm-up

The Aspens are staring back.

My routine after a difficult day starts with a run or walk to a patch of nearby woods. Standing on the edge of a field is suitable. Your yard can also work. Seclusion is best.

Survey the landscape for a moment. As a warm-up, because I’ve usually peered into the cold vacuum of a computer screen all day, I like to stare at trees of varying distances to give my eyes a bit of a stretch. 30 to 60-second look sessions. You can cut your eyes to trees to the right or left as well to let your lenses air out. Think of it as a yoga warm-up for your eyeballs.

After Work Mental Smoothie

Now to the main exercise. Once you have a sense of the woods or surrounding yards within your vision, find a stable spot so you can sit or stand with your eyes closed.

He gets it. Why can’t you.

Close your eyes.

Concentrate on what your “ears” see. Form a grid of the landscape unfolding around you in your mind. For every sound that you notice, place an imaginary red pin wherever you think the sound might be originating on your pretend grid.

See how many different sounds you can shake out of the cacophony. In my experience, you’ll start to build a soundscape you didn’t realize was there. The background hum of a highway, an airport, or a stream or ocean may materialize right before your ears. Count up each new arrival in your emerging sound garden (a term I stole from the band).

Counting is just another way to force your brain to focus on something other than the problems of the day. You could continue to let your brain spit out a million hypothetical corrections for quagmires you can no longer do anything about. Or you can unleash your mind to follow bunny trails, deer paths, and a floating pine cone down a gurgling stream.

Bats use echolocation too, perhaps as a relaxation tool. You’ve never met an anxious bat, have you?

For extra credit and puffy stickers try this bonus exercise: Identify the furthest sound you hear. Identify the nearest sound you hear.

Feeling Anxiety Over Anxiousness

For me, anxiety is a traffic loop that’s hard to steer out of. It’s a deep groove in your brain that your thoughts fall deep into at random times and with triggers. And with each bad day at work, another groove gets dug, another interstate built.

You are stuck on that highway once you get on and the signs showing the exits have all been mowed down. The anxiety isn’t the cloudy thoughts so much as it’s the infrastructure created by those thoughts. They take this allotment of memory space you’ve provided and begin replicating clones of bad code so that deleting it won’t be so easy.

Is it working?

These sorts of exercises require repetition because you are fighting to stay off an anxious path your mind has taken a hundred times. So, conversely, you must travel a better path dozens of times to form a new groove in the cerebellum to counteract old habits. You have to trust these mental gymnastics are making a difference even when you have little success in dropping the day’s mental baggage.

I like to imagine the on-ramp to my most current stress highway grows over a bit more with each brain exercise. You may not feel improvement, but the act of taking your brain out of the box and letting it run free a few times a week can do wonders.

Escape Sequence

Keeping track of ambient sound, counting up bird tweets or tagging along on a squirrel’s noisy climb, can offer the brain a rest area. Once you find it, you must drive your brain there over and over so your thoughts know the path well. The rest area is a metaphorical place, not a real rest area.

Try other methods that work better while sitting on a couch or laying on carpet. Meditation can be intimidating, but I’ve found it’s really just about slowing the mind down and mapping some new neural paths to avoid sinkholes.

Published by scottsentell20

Lifelong writer and coffee shop journaling champion. Content creator. Deep-Thought Diver. Hikes with dogs to learn their secrets to life. Likes the silence found on mountaintops and the peace that collects along the banks of small streams. I read old sci-fi novels to understand current events. Scott has roots in Alaska, Spokane, and North Carolina.

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