The True Spirit of Relaxation: Energizing, Renewing, Allowing
I challenge the idea that you ever really relax. What are the returns your receive on your relaxation? Like all important physical and mental practices, you can hurt yourself if you are not doing it right. Make sure your returns include energy, renewal, and space for allowing. If these are not your experience, you are wasting time and taking years of satisfaction off your life.
The problem with what you do right now is that you are always “going” to it. It’s the gym, the job, the happy hour, the birthday party, the girls night out. You are always going. Your solution is to stay at home. But, even then, you do not reap a replenishment of your stores of energy. You just sleep or veg or mope. Relaxation is about receiving something more than what it costs you.
For example, hanging out with friends is great when they pamper you and wait on you at your beck and call. If that’s not happening, you are in an “on” position to contribute and participate. That means that it is just as draining as work. Unless they are AMAZING at making you feel loved, important, beautiful, and strong, you are putting in more than you are getting out.
You will do better to structure time to recharge in the true spirit of relaxation. The result of relaxation is clarity of thought, internal motivation to try again, a renewed belief in some innate ability, and renewed persistence toward a goal. Start by answering the questions: When do you relax and receive the returns I listed? What are you doing in those moments?
Stop waiting, wishing, and missing out on life living for the weekend!
One of my initial interventions in my COACHing Pack is the Time Budget. It is a review of your weekly activities with the purpose of finding your free or flexible time. It is useful to identify time and space for completing tasks. It is also useful for identifying intentional time to refresh your spirit and renew your mind.
I am often faced with clients who pack their time so tight that they refuse to believe that they have space for reflection. Often, they value being busy as a hallmark of adulthood. They work, exercise, make dinner, and commute with vigor and purpose. They utilize their weekends to crash and slowly burn as incense rather than candle. This cycle results in dissatisfaction and the feeling that you are not doing enough. You complain about how you waste time on the weekend.
I look at it another way. You MUST MAKE time during each day to spend at least 60 minutes doing expressly what you want to do. Even though it’s a doing activity, two things make it renewal. First, it is what you want to do without any regard to obligations, deadlines, or social pressure. Second, it is an identified time devoid of judgments, criticisms, and pronouncements of time waste. With daily renewal in place, watch your weekends feel more purposeful, creative, and option-rich.
You must have a sense of what your felt needs are. That way, you know when they are being met. You also need to cultivate the ability to let it all go, including your sense of felt needs. The feeling that you NEED them keeps you from experiencing the calm and peace that comes with allowing. It is more than a mental shift. It is recognition of the mind’s ability to structure and interpret the experiences of the body.
You have experienced this if you have ever gone on vacation and rested after you returned home. The point of the vacation was to find enjoyment and relaxation. But, enjoyment is much more than getting away from the daily routine. Relaxation is much more than choosing a great location and paying your fare.
You will benefit from vacations that give you practice in allowing. Consider taking a vacation in which the only control is to ensure that there are no hard and fast controls. Register for the hotel at the desk. Eat when you are hungry at whatever restaurant you happen to be near. Only specify the general route and the destination. Allow the rest to occur organically.
I challenge you to set aside time each day for this type of active exploration. It can be meditative or physical, but take control by allowing yourself to lose control within a defined plan and space of time. Experience rejuvenation each day rather than waiting for a vacation.