In the final full month of summer, we have the chance to enjoy the gifts of this fleeting season: outdoor evening meals, long days, travel, vacations, gathering with family and friends, and maybe some relaxation. I love the idea of relaxing… though I must confess I don’t do it very well. Much like the idea of taking a bath, I rarely actually do.
Yes, even though in every yoga class I want anyone in attendance to relax, it does not come naturally for me. I yearn for the peace I see in your motion-less bodies during savasana, or final relaxation. You remind me it is possible; you are my teachers and role models.
Does anyone else find relaxation a challenge? When visiting with family this summer, this came up in conversation multiple times. It turns out that I’m not the only one who finds resting and doing less difficult. My daughters tell me that I passed this curse onto them. Productivity was valued in our home and working hard was the expectation. My sister has a full plate of responsibilities and has worked two jobs most of her life. No one ever modeled relaxation unless we were on vacation. Even then, there was the constant need to “squeeze” in all the points of interest, destinations, activities and experiences. It makes me tired just thinking about it! A recurrent theme for me (see blog “earning my way” from September 2022).
“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability” – Sam Keen
My future son-in-law tells me that in his home growing up, laying on the couch and reading all day on Sundays was the norm. What? I dream about those days and yet, even during a blizzard I have a hard time doing this. The many months of COVID certainly helped, but reminded me of how far I am from taking baths, and reading on the couch all day. Instead I made lists of projects to do while home-bound and away from my social calendar.
So what is the remedy for those who have a hard time relaxing? My fellow yogis, listening circle friends, and sages from all traditions & walks of life recommend similar strategies. The short list is this:
Spend time in nature
Release old beliefs that no longer serve you
Pay attention to what arises when you opt for being instead of doing
Be gentle with yourself; start where you are
Author Anais Nin writes: “I am lying on a hammock, on the terrace of my room at the Hotel Mirador, the diary open on my knees, the sun shining on the diary, and I have no desire to write. The sun, the leaves, the shade, the warmth, are so alive that they lull the senses, calm the imagination. This is perfection. There is no need to portray, to preserve. It is eternal, it overwhelms you, it is complete.“
Like playing the piano, writing poetry, or learning pickle-ball, we can only improve relaxation if we practice. We must allow more being and less doing… without an itinerary or agenda. For my fellow “doers” out there, I wish you deep relaxation in the remaining weeks of summer. For those who have been relaxing all along, keep up the good work; you create a beautiful balance to all the doing in this world. I honor you and aspire to “be” relaxed along with you.
With love & gratitude,
BONUS: May these words from Yogi Lark Hammond speak to your heart:
What to Do?
Just Allow. Be. We “Do” by Allowing, Relaxing, Letting Go.
Do NOT “try”. Do ALLOW.
First you will get distracted . . . then allow again. . . .
Allow awareness to settle and clear
Let the delicate clear crystal of your heart
to open to the sun, like a flower–
open in trust as you feel the gentle warmth of your
The flower does not have to understand a thing . . .
It feels the sun and it knows to respond by being fully itself
Becoming a seed ...
petals release and let go–
Yet the sleeping seed
Holds future glory,
Held in the womb of Creation . . .