07/14/2014 12:43 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Time Out Before Summer Slips Away



"Your everlasting summer we can see it fading fast, so you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last" -- Walter Becker, Donald Fagen/Steely Dan, "Reelin in the Years"

I often mark the passing of time by sporting events, and now that Wimbledon's over, and the Dew Tour is under way, we are well into summer and it's fleeting at a fierce pace.

I was outside on our deck last weekend and I momentarily panicked; I realized I'd been going full speed for weeks, not stopping to enjoy where I am right now, despite my mindfulness practice. The summer has been speeding along and I urgently needed to soak up some sun and do absolutely nothing. I turned on music, turned off my phone and just sat there. I leafed through a forgotten magazine, daydreamed, listened to the birds and enjoyed the peacefulness. There was actually nothing I urgently had to do. When any concerns, thoughts or worries flitted through my brain, I dismissed as just thoughts and breathed. It was glorious!

Time out is time to recharge.

Time out is not a punishment or solely an intervention in behavior support. A timeout is a necessity for savoring quietness and for getting perspective on our lives; it's also critical for recharging. I've said to my kids: "I need a timeout to recharge my mom battery," and they know it will help me to be more present and supportive for them and for myself -- and a whole lot less grouchy.Timeout gives us time to rest, reflect and get centered. Time out helps prevent us from coming from a place of exhaustion or guilt. Relaxation from taking time out is also beneficial for our physical and mental health.

Just simply doing nothing helps us to see more clearly and with being happy and content in uncomplicated moments in life. Sometimes it even helps us feel happy in complicated moments, too. Time out can be part of a mindfulness practice. Meditation and mindfulness practice does not require incense, robes, sitting in a specific position or following any rules. Just let yourself BE.

"When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another - and ourselves" -- Jack Kornfield

In my young adult life, if I didn't have someplace to go or something to do, it was anxiety --producing: I wondered if it meant I was a failure, a loser, that others would pass me up in some imagined race. The question, "What's going on?" generally had me firing off a litany of activities, happenings and busyness. As life has progressed and I have had a deeper awareness of the variety of things that could happen and do happen in life, it's actually quite a relief when there is actually nothing going on.

We try to do it all; we rise and grind as a way of life to put the most into each day. #Rise&Grind is also a useful hashtag to connect our thoughts and experiences with others around the world on the grind. But it's good to step away from the grind. To be effective for the people in our lives who are counting on us, we need to be present and supportive for them and come from a place of peace and compassion; that isn't possible if we are overwrought, exhausted and emotionally depleted. I earned my black belt in overwrought, exhausted and depleted and it is humbling to know that wastes time and alienates me from the people I love. I have learned that it's actually possible to take a respite and find peacefulness inside ourselves when events and others around us are a swirling maelstrom of stress. I'm still practicing that life skill with mixed results.

Take a break to be quiet, observe your mind and breathing, to begin to let go of anger, exhaustion, resentment and begin to find peace, clarity and compassion. Getting into the zone of quieting the mental chatter is the essence of mindfulness practice. Being ambitious and driven is necessary and beneficial for working toward life goals, but it's also crucial to shut off the overdrive and relax, in the interest of finding balance in life.

"The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there." -- Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Writer, artist, mom, philosopher, sports lover, and wearer of many other hats, Leigh Roche reminds us to slow down and put ourselves in time out to enjoy some rare and wonderful moments when nothing is going on-- to savor the summer before it passes. A time out can be a wonderful facet of a mindfulness practice.

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