Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Courage to Relax
What a perfect picture of relaxation and bliss.
I love this kitten because she illustrates perfectly the vulnerability in and pleasure of relaxation.
To drop into full relaxation requires us to drop our defenses. This is not always appropriate, of course. If we are in danger, instead of relaxing, we want to gear up to fight or flee. This protects us. Unfortunately, all too often, however, we operate with a perceived sense of danger. Under constant stress, we tense up against it. We tighten our muscles in defense, our body becomes contracted, our chest sinks, our shoulders hike up, our belly is tight. We go about life wearing armor to protect ourselves.
To drop into full relaxation requires courage to let go of that protective armor. Our belly softens, our chest opens, our shoulders drop. Our body relaxes and opens. Some people find that it is difficult to relax, that dropping that armor is not so easy. If this describes you, be patient and gentle with yourself. After all, it takes courage to let go and to be open.
Albert Einstein once said that the most important question was, "Is the world a safe place?" The stress that we feel on a daily basis can lead us to approach the world as if it is not safe. We tense up against the fear. We take shallow breaths so that we don't take the world in. We guard ourselves with tense muscles to keep the world at bay.
There many choices of activities that are calming and offer a respite from a world perceived as unsafe- yoga, massage and other forms bodywork, and meditation are some examples. The more you give yourself the opportunity to drop the armor, the less you will feel the need to put it on when you don't really need it.
Wishing you balance,