The Myth of Relaxation

I have been contemplating the myth of relaxation for a long time.

I have been contemplating the myth of relaxation for a long time.

From birth we experience intense forces of gravity upon our bodies.   As custodians, it is our responsibility to “hold ourselves in space”. It is us who keep our heads high above our torsos, and our cores close to our interests.

It is up to us to organise ourselves in the best way possible, to respect our anatomy and optimise the alignment of our body segments.

Dumping our bodies like potato sacks is recipe for injury. 

Everyday people ask me to “dissolve the knots on their shoulders/backs…”, so they can relax. Unfortunately, as of yet, there are no magic powers to counteract the long hours one sits bent over their iPhone or slouching back on the office chair or involved in their own repetitive daily actions.

I can help, perhaps alleviate the symptoms temporarily, but the only effective path to wellbeing is to take ownership: develop awareness and take responsibility, honour the anatomy, understand the physiology and optimise the immediate environment through ergonomic adaptations.

I propose that relaxation is not a state induced by “letting go”.

Relaxation also isn’t the resul of an external agent such as a masseuse, osteopath or healer.  Relaxation does not originate in long sessions of stretching, because true relaxation takes strength too.

There is no off switch from being present in our bodies, aligned, and to respect our emotions and environment.  Relaxation is a state of bliss that takes place when we are fully engaged within an organised physical structure. 

To be relaxed is to enjoy an active state of presence, tuning into internal perceptions and sensations.  That brings serenity and enables “forgetting” about the physical body, inviting to an existence in a different plane, enlightened perhaps, relaxed.

But we don’t exist in a vacuum.   Today forests are burning and a pandemic is out of control.  Earth cries for help as native tribes suffer genocide.  Refugees are kept in cages or die trying.  There are wars, corruption, homophobia, racism and poverty.

Relaxation seems a contradiction.  Life is challenging and we live in this complex reality, where there is urgency for action, justice and change. There is no disassociating from that.  The presence in our physical bodies may bring the realisation that action is required to rectify the wrongs in our society, like climate change and social inequality.

I propose that relaxation is not a stagnant concept.  Relaxation is moving in compass not only with ourselves, but also with our surroundings.