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Cooldown Cycle

June 11, 2010

Cooldown time is a concept familiar to anyone who operates anything from a lawn tractor to a piece of heavy construction equipment. It’s not good for a piece of heat-generating machinery to go from full load to switched off without an opportunity to idle for a period of time to “settle down” and cool off. Bad things happen…blocks crack, bearings sieze up, oil degrades faster. It isn’t good for us, either…

Most of us jump out of bed with less than the minimum required sleep, eat an unbalanced breakfast in a rush if we eat it at all, work at full speed or in sporadic bursts through an equally unbalanced lunch often eaten over a pile of work, slog uphill all afternoon, and rush home…or our children’s after-school programs, or volunteer activities, or night school, or any of an endless list of other things. We do this day in and day out, and the combined sleep debt, physical and emotional stress, and lack of exercise and social time take an inexorable toll on our productivity, relationships, and health. The law of diminishing returns manifests itself: the harder we work, the less we accomplish, so we work harder and accomplish less. Repeatedly. Ad infinitum.

So many of us believe we must accomplish everything set before us as a requirement, goal, objective, request, or status symbol by others that we fail to consider – and focus on – what’s truly important. And we suffer many ills for it:

  • Exhaustion
  • Damaged relationships
  • Failing health
  • Excessive indebtedness
  • Disappointment with our own achievements

There’s a way out. It takes time and patience, and help. But, there’s a way out:

  • Decide what’s important
  • Do what’s important
  • Decide which of the rest can remain undone or be delegated
  • Cultivate a relationship with God…if you want to know about my experience (which is all I know), ask me
  • Use a Cooldown Cycle

What? What kind of Cooldown Cycle? “I’m not a machine,” you say. Yes, you are. One that is fearfully and wonderfully made. You have a hydraulic pump, a source of internal energy conversion, filtration, self-locomotion, multiple mechanical advantages, internal balance and stability controls, a communications array, environmental sensors, and the most powerful information processing system ever conceived of. You are a remarkable machine…or, more accurately, machines are a poor imitation of you.

So, how does a Cooldown Cycle work for us remarkable humans?

  • Identify a definite end to your workday
  • Prepare to end your workday before that time…put away files, make daily notes, check your calendar for tomorrow
  • Leave the office. Don’t start last-minute hallway meetings on the way to your carpool!
  • Stand up straight. Breathe deeply and steadily as you leave. Martial artists know this as dropping your breath to your hara.
  • Pray, read Scriptures, run, walk, meditate, visualize. Intentionally shift your mind from “Produce” to “Standby” and then to “Maintain.”

If it helps – and I do it – employ a somatic trigger to shift your mental state quickly. I use several progressive ones depending on how quickly I need to shift my mental state. They take practice to become useful…I’ve been practicing for over twenty years, but you can begin to see effects within a few days. For example, take a deep breath before you leave your office building, hold it for eight beats of your heart, exhale steadily through your mouth with pursed lips, and drag your fingertips across the building’s doorway as you pass through. Visualize leaving your office-related concerns behind with the tactile sensation.

Remember: take care of yourself. If you don’t, no one else is going to do it for you.

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