Hmmm...think about how many times you've been looking forward to just collapsing on the couch with a good movie and a glass of your favorite sippin' juice.
Body is nice and comfy laying there. Sippin' juice is cool - or warm, you know, depending on what you like. Muscles finally able to relax after a long week of working or studying...ahhh...
But what's this?? What do my spidey senses pick up? Outwardly the body isn't doing anything, it's true, but something on the radar is being picked up. An unholy buzz. We look deeper to find it...
A lot of times, even though we think we're relaxed on the couch, our brain continues to analyze... produce thoughts, ideas and opinions. It continues to think critically, pass judgment. The brain is not disconnected from the rest of the body. When the brain is working on all of these ideas, it's also sending out messages for the body to respond. So when something you are watching on television invites you to become involved emotionally, your whole body gets involved.
And it's anything BUT relaxed. The brain sends a message to the adrenals to move out some epinephrine into the system to take care of the incoming stress that is being perceived. The heart rate also increases along with blood pressure. Your organs also respond by slowing down to conserve energy for fighting the perceived stress. Which, in turn, causes gas, diarrhea, or possibly constipation. Maybe a hemorrhoid or two?
Never realized how dangerous laying on a couch could be, huh?
It'll kill you.
Okay, maybe not. What will kill you over time, or at least play a negative role on your longterm health, is stress. And we have to understand the real definition of relaxation.
It isn't collapsing on a couch for an evening, trails of the weeks antics leading your around and around in your mind.
In taiji the word is "sung" (also "song") and it means relaxed, but in a much deeper sense that we in the western world have misplaced somewhere. Sung is a relaxed body, but a body that also has structure. Sung is a relaxed spirit open to its surroundings, but not relying on them. The spirit is even: not overjoyed, not depressed. Sung is a relaxed mind: clear of thoughts that create drama - like a political election or a topic like abortion. When you are sung, these things just are. Not right or wrong. Not good or bad. Not evil or saintly. They just are.
In a sung place it is quiet. It is even. It just is.
And you create sung - whether it starts in a dim room by yourself for three minutes every day, just allowing your mind, body and spirit to be; or when it is during a heated confrontation with a co-worker who you struggle to understand.
With your mind, spirit and body not reacting - it learns to respond...from a place of compassion, love and connection.
Next time you feel exhausted and want to lie on the couch - go ahead. But remember the exhaustion extends to your spirit, your mind and your body. Give them all a break. Breathe in. Breathe out. Follow your breath as it expands and releases your belly. Let your thoughts dissolve and keep following your breath with your mind. Allow yourself to release your anxious spirit and tense body.