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Relaxation is not rest
Relaxing is important but it is important to recognise that relaxation is not rest. Rest is the end of all activity. Unless your motion ceases, you will not find rest.
Some people use the jargon term 'active rest'. This isn't actual rest at all. It is an active break; not a rest.
Invest in rest
We are encouraged to lead active busy lives and this is not necessarily good for your health. It is essential that we take time to rest. Rushing around puts both body and mind in a state of anxiety.
Stress occurs when the demands you place upon yourself become too great.
Learn to stop
Are you allowing people to put upon you? Are you taking on too many responsibilities?
Unless you are willing to see that your life may be too busy you are unlikely to be concerned and act. Slowing down or stopping is the first step to getting some rest.
Balancing activity and rest
Watching television, drinking and sleeping-in on a weekend do not count as rest. Sports and other activities may seem restful but they are often just as competitive as work.
Ceaseless activity is not rest.
Calm mind, calm body
An agitated mind will not allow you to rest. Being emotionally upset will also deny you rest. You must be willing to put matters aside and stop, without worrying about things left undone.
Once your concerns are set aside, you can relax.
8 hours of sleep
Sleeping problems occur as a consequence of stress, diet, noise pollution and physical apathy. Many people feel drained each night, but their bodies are not actually tired.
The fatigue stems from chemical imbalances within the body. Additives, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol combine with overeating to make the body restless and unsettled.
When people do not know how to relax, they are taught the 'constructive rest position'. It is a subtle way of encouraging you to release tension and regain balance.
A lie down will not necessarily make you feel energised and vibrant. You may well feel more tired than before; wiped-out... Why is this?
Lying on the floor will make you feel tired. After all, you're in a sleeping position. But this only half the story...
The lie down has not exhausted you. How could it? Constructive rest not only relaxes the body, it also reveals the truth to you. You are probably wiped-out. And you should rest accordingly.
Does your week actually end? Or do you spend all seven days in relentless activity?
If you spend at least one day per week doing nothing in particular, you will feel refreshed and relaxed. A day of rest is important.
When you spend your weekend doing very little, you return to work on Monday feeling alive. Last Friday feels far away.
Running on empty
Modern people are often running on empty. They fail to take adequate rest. Many of the exercise methods they adopt lead to even greater fatigue.
Stimulants, sugar, caffeine and fatty food enable the individual to carry on when in fact the real solution to fatigue is of course rest.
Good sleep, healthy food, exercise and fresh air are essential for slowing down in preparation for rest. Taijiquan helps you to be calm and to appreciate the value of relaxation.
Allow yourself to slow down and become still inside; let tranquillity replace agitation.
18 March 1997
Last updated 02 September 2021