In this high-speed society we have forgotten how to relax, instead we numb-out--a poor substitute for relaxation. Numbing-out strategies: carb-loaded food, drugs and alcohol, workaholism, over-sleeping, even compulsive yoga practice can be desensitizing. To numb oneself through these or other methods regularly is also an expression of hopelessness--like saying to oneself: I don't want to deal with reality, or I can't take reality, I feel uncomfortable or unsure about the future. This is totally normal human experience! Yet, to have an awareness that sees what is going on can help a person make clear decisions about how to spend one's precious life energy.
There are times (many more than I'd like to admit) when I eat a carb-loaded snack or meal, then, "surprise!" I need to rest or sleep. The food puts me out. I know this, yet there are still times where I come home to "get things done," and realize,"I'm hungry," which can lead to, "I want Thai noodles," or,"corn chips," which leads to,"night, night." And later it leads to self-loathing, as I've let myself down again!
Do we really have to numb-out so much that we let the world get as bad as the movie Wall-E, where the world is totally buried in garbage? Earth is not habitable, so the people in the movie are all on a space-ship in a robotized culture where they are totally subdued and numbed-out. Robots take care of every whim and clean-up. They are only slightly more able-bodied than those people who were plugged into The Matrix. Wall-E has a light touch in that the people seem pleased to wake up and rebuild their lives on earth. They have a sense of wonder as they rediscover themselves.
Do we have to wait until things get as bad as that? Do we have to hit the lowest low before we can build something fresh and new? Of course you must realize, dear blog-reader, that I am talking about myself, and maybe you can identify with these ideas, too. ...It does look like we're in this together.
"If you have come to help me
You are wasting your time,
But if you have come because
Your liberation is bound up with mine
Then let us work together."
Thank you T-shirt wearer at The Grind coffee house in Lincoln Square where I found this quote.
How can one gain a sense of wonder for life when things seem lost and hopeless? This is an essential ingredient: to be curious about life. Even when you've seen the fall season for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 or more years, can you smell the leaves this season, and see the colors, and feel the brisk air and the warm sun on the skin, and hear the leaves rustling as you walk, feeling weight in one foot then the other, tuning into your true sensations. They might be and probably are different from what I'm describing, as I can only give a rough sketch. As you feel your sensations, at home in your body, you might feel your mind open up, too, in delight, spacious awe, and wonder.
Many of us spend "down time" over-stimulating ourselves with constant movies, TV, video games, chores, worries, music, books on tape, etc.--never really resting. If this resonates, find a technique that suits: a relaxation CD, meditation, yoga, walking in nature, or something else that works for you. If you don't do it already: start a daily relaxation practice. My daily yoga and meditation practice is so important to me, and I see it as a place of physical and mental rejuvination. A resting body and mind is a clear body and mind. It is from this more relaxed place that we are better able to make the world a better place.