Wiehann de Klerk
The Art of Relaxation
A different viewpoint on relaxation: how gratefulness, movement and stillness can help you unwind.
How easy it is to sit and relax. It's been a long day at work. You have worked hard. It's time to watch TV. Go ahead and switch on your favourite TV show, play your favourite game or simply take an afternoon nap. After all, you need it!
Really? Did this help you relax? From my personal experience, it never helped me relax. Our bodies do not require "relaxation activities" such as TV shows as frequently as society believes it does. The human body is made to move and be active. Sitting for prolonged periods is not the best way to care for your body. It doesn't matter whether you are a couch potato (we all know at least one of these) watching marathons of Game of Thrones, or an office worker who can't get away from the spreadsheets. A study by Diabetes Care called, "Breaks in Sedentary Time" has found that short breaks from sitting every hour or less can alleviate most of the problems associated with long-term couch potato habits. Give your body a reprieve from sitting. Practically, this can be as easy as going for a one minute walk every ad break (there are lots of these) or taking more breaks from your work computer to make your colleagues some coffee.
The human body has been perfectly designed to stand, walk, bend, squat, lie down, roll and fly (okay maybe not but you get my point). Sitting for prolonged periods of time is like trying to build a tree house without a hammer. It doesn't make any sense. To build a tree house, you need a hammer. To write a book, you need a pen. To make a cup of tea, you need water. In much the same way, to relax while sitting, you need a body that is capable of doing so.
Don't get me wrong, relaxing is important. However, what most people today are doing to relax is utterly pointless. Activities such as sitting require the hip, the centre of our body, to tilt. The problem with this is that blood circulation slows down, and our glutes and hamstrings are compressed. As a result, your body can become muscularly imbalanced. Yes, that's right, you may be muscularly imbalanced as you read this blog. Why not stand up and walk while reading this?
"To make a cup of tea, you need water. In much the same way, to relax while sitting, you need a body that is capable of doing so."
Ok, so you can't really relax while sitting on a couch because movement benefits your body and immobility doesn't. What then is the art of relaxation? First of all, I want us to be clear on one thing - relaxation is not achieved by engaging in a range of promoted health and unwind activities, it is achieved by being in a state of gratefulness. When you are grateful, you are relaxed. The opposite of gratefulness is stress. You cannot stress when you are grateful, and you cannot be grateful when you are stressed. Stress happens when there are things in your life that do not meet a specific determined standard as set by you. If you are not making as much money as you would like (below your standard), this could cause stress. In this instance, you are making less than you desire. In other words, you are not grateful because you are not achieving your desire. Happy people in impoverished nations have lower desires. For instance, they might simply desire to eat every day and have shelter, therefore, they achieve gratefulness much quicker than those of western nations. However, did you know that if you eat every day, you are in the top 5% of the world population? Don't worry about finances if you ate today - this viewpoint will make a state of gratefulness more imminent in your life. A lack of gratefulness causes an increase in your stress levels. Gratefulness eliminates stress and enables you to be a relaxed human being. When you are grateful, it means that there is nothing lacking in your life. When there is no lack, there is no reason not to be relaxed. Living in a state of worry about finances means that you believe that you are lacking. When I go to get a massage, I never have knots in my neck. I am someone that is always in a happy state due to gratefulness. Happiness in and of itself relaxes your mind, soul and spirit. The build-up of stress and the lack of gratefulness is destroying your ability to relax, be happy and live in peace.
"Relaxation is not achieved by engaging in a range of promoted health and unwind activities; it is achieved by being in a state of gratefulness."
Now, if relaxation is not achieved by taking part in activities that apparently pertain to it, and you are grateful, what else can you do? Well, there are many and too many to disclose in one blog post. However, I do wish to touch on one more important aspect of relaxation, and that is the power of stillness. We live in a world crowded with messages, stories, fake news, opinions and drama. People even watch drama movies, how crazy is that? Learning how to be still will enable you to exist on another level, playfield and reality. Earlier, I spoke about movement and how it benefits your body. Now, I am referring to stillness. Stillness benefits your mind, and movement benefits your body. The absence of motion benefits your mind, and the occurrence of motion benefits your body. Every single one of us needs both in our lives to achieve perfect tranquillity and peace in this world. A lot of times, when you are stressed, unrelaxed, confused or sad, you need stillness. You may already have the answer - you have to be quiet so that you can hear it. Many times, we have the answer but all the distractions cause us to think, and the thinking clouds our judgement and creativity. Let's look at nature - it does not move fast, yet accomplishes much. Often, we rush our daily lives and insufficiently make time for ourselves to be still. A slower pace allows for a steadier flow of achievements.
"True intelligence operates silently. Stillness is where creativity and solutions to problems are found." - Eckhart Tolle
The beautiful thing about movements of the body and stillness for the mind is this: both require you to relax outside the realms of the world's recommended relaxation activities.
What can you be grateful for? What can you do to live in stillness? What can you do that is adventurous and gives your body a chance to move? What are some things you are doing right now to relax, that you know does not work and what can you replace these activities
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