A Wildly Underrated Skill
It's high time we talk about a skill that gets little love:
Unlike typing or riding a bike, we aren't taught how to do it. If anything, we're taught the opposite - go-go-go! Be better, faster, stronger. Be more.
So, relaxing gets typecast as lying on a beach, reading gossipy reads, and drinking out of a coconut. Which we do maybe once a year, if ever.
Or we're told to get some downtime because it will make us more productive. In other words, relaxing is a means to an end - a work end.
I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in the skill of relaxing for relaxing's sake. Letting our hair, shoulders, defenses down and coming home to ourselves.
'Relax' comes from the Latin 'relaxare,' which means, among other things, to widen again. And I love that it's widen again. Relaxing is loosening up the constrictions we get caught in and returning to our naturally expansive selves.
And that's not something we can afford to do only once a year. I think it's something we're called to do regularly. Daily, if possible.
I do crosswords after dinner. I know some who knit. Others walk in the woods, play the piano, garden, hula hoop, tinker in the garage or under the hood of an old car, make collages or birdhouses, take yoga or tango or swimming classes. There's no set way to do it. There's just the way, or ways, that loosen our tensions and return us to ourselves.
Yes, to relax regularly is a step away from the common idea of productivity, an idea that would have us working 70 minutes an hour, 25 hours a day. But it is a step towards ourselves.
So may we become more skillful at relaxing. At recovering the full wingspan we were born with, but constricted out of.
In other words, may we become more skillfully ourselves.