A Time to Work…and a Time to Relax

Deric stockton’s amazing demonstration


It’s Friday, will you find some time to relax during the weekend? Check out Deric’s amazing demonstration and reflect on Andrea’s 2014 call for relaxation in her article A time to Work…and a Time to Relax.

By Andrea Chilcote

Once again, my friend and coach Dana Sterling, a therapeutic movement facilitator, offered a simple yet profound lesson that links body, mind and spirit.

Want to feel better? When at rest, rest. When you need to work, expend the energy. Contract your muscles, (mental or physical) deliberately and intentionally.

Go ahead. Because if you don’t, your mind will tell you that a state of relaxation is risky … that it leaves you unprepared, unarmed for what life may bring.

Yet in fact, our ability to relax is as essential to functioning as is our ability to engage.

When you sleep, do you really rest? Or do you wake or rise stiff and unsteady? When you deal with stress (the usual stress of life) does it linger, and extend into the next moment and then the next? Do you confuse a state of readiness, which is found in relaxation, with a state of tension?

I know I do. And Deric Stockton’s amazing demonstration has given me pause. Pause, yes. Relax.

 

 

Rest By Any Other Name

Andrea Chilcoteby Andrea Chilcote

I’ve been busy. (“Ha ha,” you say. “Tell me something new.”)

Seriously, there is something new here. I have a lot going on, yes. But I also have this emerging core value I’ve been attending to. I haven’t found a just-right word for it yet, but self-regard comes close. It’s a familiar state of being, one I’ve honed for years now. And even though I genuinely feel such things as self-respect, compassion for my own shortcomings, and deservingness, my behavior doesn’t always align. I often “dis”-regard my own needs in light of an abundance of things to do and people to serve.

And so I get tired. Exhausted, sometimes.

Earlier this year, I decided something has to give. And the answer, I knew then and know still, is not to simply do less. It has more to do with the quality with which I carry myself through life than the length of my to-do list. It has little to do with the amount of hours I sleep and is more about what I do with the hours I’m awake. Regard for my own needs is paramount if I am going to truly contribute in this life.

In the last week, a friend (who knows of this new pursuit), has prefaced a number of statements with “If you’re not resting …” Each time I heard or read those words, I had a visceral reaction. I wanted to shout: “Of course I’m not resting, I’m busy.” Or, “I don’t need to rest – I’m energized.” At the same time I was thinking these thoughts, I was carefully managing my energy. Despite a packed work schedule, in the last three days I’ve made time for exercise, fun visits with friends, a great book, a good movie and a weekday lunch with Arthur.

After examining my reaction to my friend’s implication that I needed “rest,” I understood it. It’s the word, and what the word connotes to me.

Resting takes many forms of course. Some rest on the sofa while others rest on the dance floor. We can rest in motion, or rest … errr … at rest. Mental rest is different from physical rest. In my analysis of why the word itself produces such a reaction in me, I realized that I judge rest. In the crazy way I have it wired, some is deserved, some not. Some is for sissies, and some is to be savored like fine wine. Even the dictionary definition of rest seems polarized. Descriptions like “Death,” and  “To lie unfarmed,” sit beside “A place to stop and relax” and “Freedom from anxiety.”

How do you view rest? Is it an essential chore, or a delicious and deserved reward? How do you practice rest? Do you crash exhausted or plan the things that uniquely refresh you?

I’ve reframed my point of view on rest. Does yours need a reset too?

Never Mind That

by Andrea Chilcote

Never Mind ThatLet’s do a mental exercise. Imagine a stranger approaches you, looks you in the eye and states, boldly, “I don’t like you!”

What’s your immediate reaction? What do you say in response? Now, imagine the same thing only this time it’s someone you know — a neighbor say, or a co-worker. Does it feel different when it’s an acquaintance? Is your response different?

I have always considered myself impervious to others’ views of me. Being liked or accepted is just not one of my core needs.

So I was surprised by my reaction to an exercise I participated in this past weekend. The exercise was part of a workshop led by Ann Albers. Ann demonstrated by walking up to an unassuming participant. “I don’t like you!” she declared. The woman cowered a bit and softly replied “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Ann coached. “Just say ‘that’s okay,’ with confidence, and walk away.”

Easy, right? Well, I thought it would be easy for me.

We were instructed to practice with other attendees. The first person who said “I don’t like you” to me was met with my response: “I don’t like you either!”

Wow. An image of my beloved Malamute, Whisper, came to mind. When an aggressive dog approaches Whisper, she takes an even more aggressive stance and growls back ferociously. “Never mind that,” I’ve been telling her, for nearly nine years.

It’s rare that a person says “I don’t like you” out loud. The messages are usually more subtle, but we can sense and feel them. And we make assumptions about people’s feelings toward us based on behaviors we interpret as lack of acceptance. Whisper has reacted many times to a dog’s personality-driven exuberance as if it was aggression directed at her. And because she is a mirror for me, I’m pretty certain I have too.

The lesson of the workshop was, of course, to remain unaffected by the opinions of others. Never mind them. Before Saturday, I would have told you that I was uninfluenced. But I am affected, making up a story of why and how others could come to the conclusion that they don’t like me, and in doing so concluding that they too are unlikeable.

“That’s okay. Never mind that.” What peaceful and disarming responses these are, whether spoken or not. Consider these phrases in relation to self-acceptance. In this context, we’re really saying, “I’m okay” – okay with myself, in full acceptance of my value and worth. We’re saying “never mind” the opinions of others. There’s neither a need to take on their negativity nor “fight to prove I’m right” in the words of music legend Pete Townshend.

Wars are raged between countries and within communities and families because we don’t agree. People make decisions every day to please others and in doing so forego their own needs, purpose and values – often disappointing the very ones they were trying to please.

I do like you. But pretend for a moment that I don’t, and just never mind.

I don’t need to fight
To prove I’m right
I don’t need to be forgiven
Pete Townshend
“Baba O’Riley”

____

This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger.

You’re the Only Self You’ve Got

by Andrea Chilcote

You're the Only Self You've Got

“How are you?” My Pilates instructor, Dana, asked. “I’m angry with my body,” I replied.

For five years I’ve been dedicated to a somewhat unconventional practice for managing the issue of my back. I’ve been committed, using a combination of prescribed stretches, Pilates and other exercises that have quite literally changed my life. Before finding this process, I had poor posture, bad sitting, standing and walking habits, and always had at least some pain.

Lately I’ve been slipping. I’ve been busy, traveling a lot and not making the time I know I need to dedicate to this practice.

After stating that I was angry, I went on to complain about how little time I had and how frustrated I was that maintaining the healthy state I had achieved still took so much work. Why couldn’t I have just been born with an easy body that didn’t require so much maintenance?

I picked the wrong person to whine to, at least if I was looking for sympathy. Dana knows me well. She asked me to consider that perhaps not making time for the exercise that improves my quality of life might just be an indication that I wasn’t making the time to care for myself.

She was right, and I knew what I had to do. But I left there that day still angry with my body.

I went home with resolve to repair my current ache through diligently practicing my exercises. As I lay on the floor stretching my right hamstring, I suddenly thought, “This is silly. How could I be angry with my body?” It’s just a body, not a being with conscious intent. That would be like feeling anger at my car because it wouldn’t start.

I know I’m not my body. My body is a vehicle I manage, and it was me I was angry with; angry for not making the time to care for myself in a way that’s loving and forgiving of its physical flaws.

Still, I had judgment. Self-judgment that here I am, writing as I often do that a loving and kind relationship with ourselves is a prerequisite for the same with others, and not walking the talk.

That night, one of the huskies helped me see the lesson, and helped me take a gentler stance.

While making dinner, I accidentally stepped on Heather’s paw. She jumped, began to slightly bare her teeth, and then softened. I embraced her, and she cuddled into my arms. In the five months she’s been with us, she has been working to outgrow a fear response to pain from the abuse she suffered. I was struck by her progress as I recalled the first weeks with her. I saw it as just a residual shadow, but indicative of a long process of letting go of what appears like a reflex response. At once, I knew the same was true for me.

When life gets busy and demands for my time are heightened, I can forget to take care of myself. It’s a reflex response like Heather’s. And like hers, it’s dissipating over time. Like hers, it responds best to love and kindness.

I feel qualified to repeat the advice I’ve offered before. Care for yourself. You’re the only self you’ve got.

_____

This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a weekly blogger. Enjoy it!