How many of you go fuel steam ahead every day, seemingly on tilt, chasing down whatever goal you are after?
How many of you are told just to relax and take a refreshing second to smell the roses? The when you do eventually find some time to seek the beauty of the flowers around you, your energy levels seem to drop and you get the urge nap?
Are you then relaxed or just tired?
Were you unconsciously running on fumes all day and then once you slowed down you felt the blast of fatigue all at once?
Why is it that every time I want to have a quiet moment to myself I find myself wanting to dose off?
Is it possible to be fully relaxed and not tired?
Now a lot of the energy used to balance out our day is allocated to our central nervous system, detecting threats, reacting to stimulus, pairing feelings and thoughts together and activating physical reflexes within the body. Most of you are aware of this simple biology already and find solace in rest for a calming effect. But what about those days when you have nothing going on, little responsibility, and you know that you have had plenty of sleep the night before? Can you relax yourself and connect with the world around you without feeling tired?
This tiredness that we all feel is a result of signals sent to the brain saying “time to shut down for a while”. This can be very frustrating when in reality you slept a solid eight hours every night for the last week and you are feeling very healthy, and yet your nervous systems triggered your brain to go into shut down mode for a while. Do you reach for coffee to stimulate yourself back to alertness, or is there another solution?
Past perceptions of relaxation
- Running a nice hot bath and soaking for 20 minutes
- Going for a nice walk in the forest
- Unwinding on the sofa watching Netflix
- Having a nice martini or spirit that picked my fancy that day
If you are anything like me you might be taxing your body far more frequently than you are aware of. The problem with these solutions for relaxation are my inability to fully tune into the moment, to my body, and to my thinking. Whether I was soaking in the bath, or walking alone in nature, my mind would still be racing. I was incapable of switching my thoughts off and transferring all that energy into the present moment.
‘Planning’ was the solution to my first world problems. I would constantly seek solutions to future problems that have yet to arise and dwell in them in the now. Essentially my mind was shifting through scenarios that I valued as important. These experiences usually had imagined consequences in advance that I needed to protect myself from. Whether it be embarrassment, harm, failure, injury, loss, I would attempt to defend myself from every angle. It was my harm reduction strategy that I thought to have perfected over the years but it rarely served me any good in hindsight. It would just tax my system and add more stress to the day.
When the time came for me to relax, I was never capable of fully turning off all that mental chatter. I would remain stationary, not socializing with others, but my mind would escape the moment that I was suppose to be lost in. Now this is a point in my life where ignorance was never bliss; ignorance was just a serious lack of knowledge. Knowledge about myself and how my body was responding to thought.
I have an important meeting with the ‘higher-ups’ tomorrow and have to present some of my findings. I want to be perfect in my pitch to my boss. I don’t think my job is on the line so I am not under the gun, but I want to impress upon them my strong value to the company through my hard work. Essentially I want to be recognized, and receive that honorary pat on the back followed by “keep up the great work”.
My pride and intelligence is now on the line, and it would be out of the question for their response to my presentation to be ‘good enough’ or ‘satisfactory’, so the internal battle rages on for the perfect presentation.
As I start running through tomorrows meeting in my mind I begin to adjust my posture. My shoulder tension increases, my eyes become more narrowed and my jawline shows more edge. These of course are physiological responses to a threat, imagined or real. I may be in the middle of a beautiful meadow while the sun is shinning down on me with serenity, yet my physical posture does not come close to reflecting such peace and beauty around me.
When referencing the dictionary definition in Google of define ‘Relax’, we read ” make or become less tense or anxious”. If someone is in deep mental debate over past or future events how could they ever experience that stillness of mind that we can experience in true relaxation? Relaxation is then a symptom of the stillness of mind. Isolate your thoughts to the moment and activity all around you. You are more than brilliant and capable of handling the future events, when and if, they actually do arise. For now, submerge yourself into something of much more value, the present moment. Here you can find a relaxed posture, and a face held with little tension. Your mood will then follow, and joy will emerge as thoughts subside.