Just Relax!

If you have ever studied a martial art, being told constantly to relax probably sounds familiar.  The trouble is, no body ever actually tells you what ‘relax’ means, other than, ‘You know, relaaaax’.  And in a world that never switches off and where the subliminal message of growth is constant, it’s difficult to relax.  So, what does ‘relax’ really mean?

 

The dictionary defines it as: to rest while you are doing something that you enjoy, especially after work or effort.  Well that sounds pretty ambiguous to me, it could mean anything.  And it certainly doesn’t imply that it must be something healthy, you just need to enjoy doing it! Relaxing of course doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.  Based on the dictionary definition, some people might find listening to Death Metal while sitting on a cactus quite relaxing.  But let’s look at the more obvious pastimes that we like to do to relax.

Number 4 – Running

First on the list is running.  This is a very popular way of relaxing and I did it myself for many years.   Lots of people say that it’s their way of clearing the mind and can almost be a form of meditation.  The only trouble with running of course is that after a certain distance the only thing one can focus on is the pain and when will it be over!

I’ve written about this before; many people find running so enjoyable because it moves stagnant Qi, which is not so bad, but it is bad when there isn’t enough Qi.

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When Qi is depleted, it becomes stagnant, so we must do more, run more, to get it moving, which in turn depletes it even more.  So, a vicious circle is created.  Although running is good for mental wellbeing, it usually isn’t that good for the body.  Running a few miles for one or two days a week and a 10k on the weekend is healthy but running every day and 21 miles every Sunday without fail isn’t.  And then add a little bit of guilt, then running is no longer relaxing, but an obsession.  If it isn’t you, then we all know someone who is in the running cult!

Number 3 – Alcohol

How about a few glasses of wine or a couple of pints to relax?  We all know that the Mediterranean diet is good for us, but the problems start when you mix that into a certain lifestyle.  The med diet is supposed to accompany a more chilled out relaxed way of living.  Working 12-hour days, looking after the kids and then finding time to exercise and socialize, wasn’t part of the equation when these studies were undertaken.

From a Qi perspective, alcohol stagnates, which means heat and causes you to wake up in the middle of the night after a few drinks.  It’s all to do with the Liver energy. The Liver is in charge of the free flow of energy, so when it has to work harder the Qi stops moving, that’s why we feel tired when we drink.  And for some people it also causes anger, the opposite to being relaxed.

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Number 2 – Drugs

Or how about something a little more exotic? Drugs like marijuana are hugely popular.  You only have to picture the popular image of the stoner – ‘Wow man, far out’ – and it’s pretty obvious that smoking the stuff can be relaxing (when it’s not triggering a psychotic episode).  But like alcohol, energetically it is very drying, so although initially it is subduing, long term use can lead to the opposite reaction to relaxation.  Energetically Marijuana is a Wood herb which invigorates the Liver but suppresses the Gallbladder.  That’s why spliff-heads have amazing ideas but lack the drive to actually do anything!

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Number 1 – Breathing

If you google ‘how to relax’, the top hit recommends that you take slow, deep breaths, which of course in Chinese Medicine is Qi gong.  I’ve written extensively about Qi Gong here on my blog before, but briefly, Qi Gong is based on the philosophy of Qi, or the movement of Qi and how it affects our health, mentally and physically. One uses their breath and mind to direct Qi around the body.  Basically, it’s like Chinese yoga.

I believe in balance, so don’t feel guilty about doing the things you love but try to do some of the good things too.  Pastimes such as running and drinking take us out of ourselves, when really we should be looking within.  And if you are a martial artist who wants to learn how to relax, try Qi Gong.

Steve Coster Acupuncture Qi Gong Southend

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Yul Grinner

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

 

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