Relaxation is something we are always seeking. Whether it is after a busy day at work, or staying home with the kids. Tai Chi Chuan, Chi Kung, Massage, Yoga, Meditation, Martial Arts, exercise, and many other activities are all tools to help us cultivate relaxation and learn to use it in our daily lives. These tools help us relax by helping us cope with stress. Although we all cope differently there are three pillars which must be present in order to deal with our stress in a constructive and positive way.
These three pillars are in the realms of character, mindset, and physique. Some of these tools train all the pillars and some of them only train specific aspects of them. To achieve functional relaxation, all three pillars must have a strong root in your life. For the sake of simplicity we’ll outline the pillars and go into depth afterwards.
We have three pillars of our true selves, which must be in place for us to relax, those pillars are:
The foundation of a strong character is what upholds the ability to relax. Without it all things crumble, if not today, eventually things will fall apart. To uphold strength of character there are three things to live by, honor, discipline, and spirit. Honor is an attribute that guides us to strong self-esteem, solid boundaries and a pure strength of character. Discipline is what helps us fend off temptation and adhere to our principles, and is a drive to progress in spite of all hardship. Spirit grants us flexibility to adapt our principles to newfound evidence, and have faith in ourselves even when we must change our plan of action. Of all these it is the spirit that demands relaxation. On achieving relaxation it is our spirit/ or this lack of attachment to our problems that lifts us up and strengthens us to solve our problems.
With a strong foundation of character it becomes easier to cope with stress, and deter hardship. Having this internal compass helps us relax in the long run and lead a life that naturally has less stress. The ability to diminish stress in your life is through guiding your action based on your character. Once that has been accomplished the only thing left is to develop flexibility to roll with the circumstances of life.
The greatest tool we have to develop this flexibility is our mindset. Our mindset, or personal philosophy, is what determines our ability to handle ourselves through stress, this in turn dictates the outcome of our situation. As I pointed out up above our mindset should be active, alert and flexible. Active in that we must act to move toward our dreams. Alert in that we must gather and examine the outcomes of our actions and/or other people’s actions to possibly change our path. Lastly our mindset must be flexible in such a way that we can take all the information gathered and change ourselves if necessary.
Mindset can motivate or diminish your will to act, which is why it’s our greatest tool. This will to act, and keep consistent balanced action is what keeps our body healthy. Without bodily health we won’t live long enough to accomplish anything. I would also argue that without keeping our body healthy we live in a sort of fog. Like looking through a lens.
When living in such a way it is difficult to find the balance point, let alone accomplish any sort of consistent direction in life. When there is imbalance there will be stress, because our body will continuously search for balance. This search for balance within a conscious sort of imbalance is what creates compounded tension in the body. All of the forms of training listed above strive to bring you back to a balance of one type or another, and seek to negate this compounded tension. This balance is where utmost relaxation is, and as people this is where we must strive to stay.
Daniel R. Hyde
Licensed Massage Therapist
OIF, OEF Veteran
U.S. Marine Corps
Kwan Ying Do Kung Fu
Tai Chi Chuan
Tui Na, Chinese Massage
Shiatsu, Japanese Massage