Rest without sleeping: how to meditate, and more

The aftermath of an illness left Godelieve van Eekelen with a spell of chronic fatigue. Meditation and walking were key in her recovery

Ever been in a situation where you were dead tired but fed up with sleeping?

Sleeping meditating

I’m not sleeping I’m meditating. I’m not meditating I’m resting. I’m not resting I’m floating. Laura Eades 2014

At one point in my life I know I was. Here are three ways I nailed it:

1. Stare

First focus on one point, and then relax the eyes. Try to relax your mind the way you do when you fall asleep… let go. Don’t think about what to do next, try to not think at all (it’s hard I know, but you’ll get better at it every time you try).

Stare 10 minutes like this, it takes of the heaviness of your tiredness. I did this often behind my desk at work, when I had an afternoon dip. I would rest my head in my hands, and would stare just alongside my computer screen (so no one would notice I was resting, not working).

Often I would even find myself dozing off for a minute. It made me able to get through the day and actually reach the end of it. It also made me more effective the rest of the day. So don’t worry about losing those 10 minutes, you will make up for it.

2. Meditate

I’ve noticed people often have the wrong idea about meditation. Especially those who are not familiar with it. To me it’s nothing hazy, it’s just an exercise in concentration. And if you do well it relaxes your brain completely and even your body.

I learned meditation the Zen Buddhist way, which stands out in simplicity, people may even say it’s spartan. But it’s super-easy and effective.

Since this is not a Zen Buddhist class please just sit up straight, anyway you want to (imagine a wire attached to your scalp, that pulls you up). Relax your shoulders and arms. Close your eyes, or keep them half open if it works better for you. Concentrate on your breath (no need to “catch” your breath, it will come to you without any effort needed…), feel it going down deep into your belly, and going up.

If you have a hard time concentrating and your mind wanders away, than count your breaths, one to ten and then start over. Keep counting until you don’t need it anymore. If you practice this regularly you’ll notice there are different levels of relaxation you can accomplish with it. Some days will be better than others, don’t be hard on yourself, you’re only human.

3. Walk

Go for a walk outside, dress a little too lightly for the weather, and walk a little faster than you would normally. As if you’re afraid to miss the train. Feel your feet touch the ground, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

This is not about relaxation but about regaining energy. A short walk like this is even enough to recharge yourself (after a long and dull meeting for instance, or to prepare for one…).

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Godelieve van Eekelen is a 37-year-old Dutch HR specialist living in Berlin. Formerly Amsterdam-based, she emigrated two years ago and is in the process of developing a job which fits her life as a mother-of-one. Optimistic, impatient, pragmatic, empathic, analytical.

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