Relax Already

Many of us were raised Catholic and understand sin, guilt, sacrifice, doing for others, and the idea that the devil finds work for idle hands. What we know less well, or not at all, is the sense of loving oneself, honoring oneself, being kind to oneself, and being able to enjoy full easy-going relaxation. The real relaxation that is not just a break from doing for others, or out of obligation. I’m talking about a life attitude, a way of living that honors who you are and what you really need from life, that recognizes that it’s ok to love yourself – actually it’s mandatory. And taking frequent breaks from “doing” by “being”.

A friend of mine died recently- in her 70’s, but she died before her time, from exhaustion. Just like Edgar Cayce, who never learned to leave obligation to others aside, and honor himself enough to stop and relax. He’d been told repeatedly by guidance to just put in a certain number of readings a day, and he went way over that. At first he collapsed into a coma for 2 weeks. That didn’t stop him. He continued at an exaggerated pace, and eventually died from it. My friend similarly lived with an attitude that there was always work that could be done, obligations to fill, always something else to do, a 10 min break was all she’d allow for herself, then back to the real stuff to do.

A dysfunctional way of living, really. That’s the pattern I too had adopted: years of pushng myself – always feeling behind the 8-ball, always thinking I could do just a little bit more, a little bit better. Always stressed, always tense. In the years that I was studying dreams with a dream group, our teacher came in one day and told us that she’d been told to tell those in the group: “You’re all far too stressed”. The group consisted of a diverse set of women, neither old or young, most with professional jobs – but all evidently with this one thing in common: too stressed. Not only stressed but far too stressed. So that spoke to our whole environment – this was not one or two particularly ambitious women – this was all of us. I only realize now what a strong statement that was, condemning our whole way of living. The way we evaluated what we did, and how little we valued ourselves and our personal time. So the recommendation is to relax more, to live a life of calm centeredness, in ourselves, watching life more, enjoying nature more, extending compassion to those who seem “off” without judgement or anger.

Long after I no longer considered myself a Catholic, I dreamt that I was serving up mummy food on a big platter in a church basement for a group of people. (mummy food – the dust discovered by those who first opened up the tombs in the pyramids – many of whom died within the following months from the poison – curse of the mummies, it was reported).

Evidently in those years I was still conveying those good Catholic, dysfunctional values – of which people can die: obligation, sacrifice, guilt, selflessness. A selflessness that doesn’t serve the real self, never mind the ego, it doesn’t serve the soul.

So let’s all go out and find a nice tree to talk to, or a pretty flower to admire, or a bird to watch, or some self-reflection or just daydreaming to indulge in. Let go the rat race, after all, as someone once said, so what does it really matter if you win the rat race – you’re still a rat.

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