“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” ~Chinese Proverb
I have been a tension chaser for most of my life, measuring my days by how much I got done. My four children and their myriad activities were the stuff of legendary multitasking and time management planning. I never counted my stress when I consented to another activity; I never even considered what it would take me to keep the promise, so immune from my own stress response. I was in motion and the continuous business kept me in distant check with all the self-esteem issues I so actively skirted around.
Growing a business seemed like another thing I could just add to my to do list. I was a yes girl. Then the tension started to mount. All the juggling, multi-tasking magic in the world wouldn’t let me escape the fact that the truth about living peacefully in life is choosing it; recognizing that any one person has a limited amount of time and resources. It took me longer than most to truly understand and give the idea of limits due respect.
Age is a great teacher. As much as I sought out tension in the form of diversion in the past, I am now deeply committed to discovering what it feels like to actively go the other way. Like Gandhi’s recognition, “There is more to life than increasing its speed,” I am intent on discovering what I have been missing all these years that I have so intentionally filled my time to overflowing.
The days of the multi-tasking are over, as I can barely keep track of the thoughts right in front of me. Learning to appreciate the present moment in its fullness is not just for sitting meditation, it is a daily practice that slows me down and reduces my tension. A recent hormone study confirmed the obvious that my stress levels are showing up in my blood. It is not a sustainable lifestyle.
Slowing down and not expecting so much from the day is a new practice that is challenged by all the promises I made when I never gave a second thought to the idea of tension or it’s weight in my body. Still it seems that the more I do it, the more that all that I have been chasing after for all these years, is coming around and catching up to me.
I am more and more ready to be who I am, which as the Chinese have apparently known all along, is pretty relaxing.