The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
Everyone can relate to a tense body, an uneasy mind, or an agitated spirit.
When we’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, we’re unable to function properly — our mental faculties and physical stamina are hindered — and we can no longer do the best that we can to better our world.
It—the body—is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation.
Thankfully, we can relax our mind and body in numerous ways. Here are five:
1. Breathe the Stress Away
One of the best ways to quiet your mind and calm your body is to focus all your attention on your breath. So, I invite you to pause for a moment and take a break from your daily activities and worries to just breathe.
Make sure you are sitting up straight to allow for more oxygen to circulate through your body. Place your hands on your abdomen, and feel your belly rise and fall as you inhale for five seconds and exhale for five seconds. Close your eyes, and breathe slowly and deeply. Repeat this cycle of inhaling and exhaling until your heart rate is back to normal and your mind is at peace.
Breathing exercises increase your immunity, improve your quality of sleep, and strengthen your heart and lungs. They relax your nerves and enhance your focus and concentration.
2. Connect to Nature
According to an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America in 2015, “More than 50% of people now live in urban areas. By 2050 this proportion will be 70%.” While it can be fun and exciting to live in a city, research is finding that urban life may be harmful to our mental health.
One experiment found that participants who went on a 90-minute walk in nature had less negative thoughts and “reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness,” whereas a 90-minute walk in an urban environment had no such effects. So, if you live in an urban area, it is so important to take time away from the smog, noise, and city lights and find solace in nature if you can.
The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.
Like Moses withdrew to Mount Sinai, Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert, and Muhammad retreated to the cave on Mount Hira, Bahá’u’lláh lived alone for two years in the mountains of Kurdistan, reflecting on his divine mission as the latest messenger sent from God.
3. Drink a Hot Cup of Tea
Whenever I’m feeling anxious or stressed, I drink a hot cup of herbal tea to calm me down. My go-to is rose tea, but there are so many teas that relax your mind and body. For example, chamomile tea increases serotonin and melatonin levels in your body and peppermint tea relaxes your muscles and soothes tension headaches.
The central figures of the Baha’i Faith often drank tea. Ella Goodall Cooper, one of the earliest American Baha’is, recorded the following visit with Abdu’l-Baha, the son of Baha’u’llah, in the late 1800s:
One day … I had joined the ladies of the Family in the room of [Bahíyyih Khánum] for early morning tea, the beloved [Abdu’l-Baha] was sitting in His favourite corner of the divan where, through the window on His right, He could look over the ramparts and see the blue Mediterranean beyond.
He was busy writing Tablets, and the quiet peace of the room was broken only by the bubble of the samovar, where one of the young maidservants, sitting on the floor before it, was brewing the tea.
4. Practice Gratitude
If we’re ruminating about what is going wrong in our lives, we’re not thanking God for what is going right. Counting our blessings shifts our focus and gets us in a more positive frame of mind. Abdu’l-Baha listed many physical and spiritual blessings that God has given us:
He has provided our foods, drink and other requirements; His favors encompass us from all directions. The sustenances provided for man are blessings. Sight, hearing and all his faculties are wonderful gifts. These blessings are innumerable; no matter how many are mentioned, they are still endless.
Spiritual blessings are likewise endless—spirit, consciousness, thought, memory, perception, ideation and other endowments. By these He has guided us, and we enter His Kingdom.
Now, our gratitude can not end in words. It must be expressed through praiseworthy actions. Abdu’l-Baha said:
In response to these bestowals he must render good deeds, be self-sacrificing, loving the servants of God, forfeiting even life for them, showing kindness to all the creatures.
He must be severed from the world, attracted to the Kingdom of Abhá, the face radiant, the tongue eloquent, the ear attentive, striving day and night to attain the good pleasure of God.
5. Calm Your Mind and Body Through Prayer
If we want to sever ourselves from this world, we need to pray. Prayer is a conversation with God and is therefore the sweetest state in the world.
The central figures of the Baha’i Faith revealed thousands of prayers for us to say on every subject ranging from detachment and nearness to God to spiritual growth and healing. Abdu’l-Baha wrote:
The prayers which were revealed to ask for healing apply both to physical and spiritual healing. Recite them, then, to heal both the soul and the body.
May the following Baha’i prayer relax your mind, calm your body, and refresh your spirit:
O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.
O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.