Relaxation…thank you, i’ll take some!
Funny isn’t it. For thousands of years humans worked very hard, fighting off beasts, catching dinner, and gathering wild food. We evolved so many extraordinary ways of survival, and in between these extreme activities, we sat around and did…nothing. Maybe we chatted amongst each other, maybe we just gazed out in the distance. We know we did this because many cultures outside of the west still do. This was our down-time. Zoning out, plebbing out, chillin’ out…time out. We evolved to a state of NEEDING this time to balance the other extremes of life. We couldn’t go around fighting beasts EVERY minute.
Now look at us.
We come home from a hard slog at work, and then we try to have our own “down time”…television, internet…but what are we really doing? Tapping into tension-filled programs, zipping around websites…I feel worn out just thinking about it.
Recording relaxation CDs, i often get asked “how can i relax?”. The most common question within this subject is “what can i do to relax?”…and therein lies the answer, within the question itself. What can i DO to relax…simple… DO nothing.
In all the different definitions of what relaxation is, there is one common element…that relaxation is about decreasing, taking away, diminishing, relieving, etc, the body, mind and spirit. In this light, it would seem quite logical that to decrease any kind of stimulation is really the only way to truly relax.
In an email i received from a music customer, she said she didn’t like the DRIFT CD (music for sleep and deep relaxation), because the music was “boring”. I felt she had missed the point. Relaxation is supposed to make you feel a bit numb, a bit “blank”, and a bit dopey. THAT is what true relaxation is all about. It’s about stopping input and decreasing stimulation, and inserting an amount of nothingness in it’s place.
What is it that makes us so afraid of nothing?
So many things. Guilt or the way we've programmed ourselves to think perhaps (“ i really should be doing those dishes”). Maybe we’re hiding from ourselves, afraid that if we stop and just BE for a moment, we might see something of ourselves we didn’t know. Is that so frightening? Or have we just become consumed by consumerism, convinced that we need our hands held even during the most basic of moments.
When was the last time you really “stared into space”? You probably remember doing it quite a lot when you were young, but what about now? Remember as a child how you tried to hold onto the stare for as long as possible, because that nothingness felt soooo good? Children often indulge in moments of nothingness, and they’re very good at it. I think they may be closer to what’s natural to the human being than their parents living in a non-stop reality.
Here’s a thought.
Next time you’re finding it a challenge to relax, you might like to ask yourself what your forefathers and mothers did after slaying dinner, or trekking across deserts. And just maybe, you could sit, stare, look out, and soak up a singular moment, just like they would have done only a few generations ago. Zone out, chill out, pleb out, and soak up a bit of nothingness everyday, and see what you discover.
Tania Rose is an Arts Psychotherapist, Teaching Artist, Mother, and
Author of the book MINDFUL NURTURING — Parenting in thoughtful ways