Thursday, June 24, 2010

Feeling relaxed? Got "song?"

It is a truism to say that the pace and pressures of life have increased immensely. Many folk work long hours, most weeks of the year, to enjoy a couple of week's relaxation on vacation. When vacation arrives it takes the first week to "come down" from the hectic speed of life. By the end of the second week you're just about getting used to it. Then back to work.

There are cultural differences. We noticed when we moved to the USA how much more pressure people are under to work hard, to be productive, to accomplish something ... anything. Friends told us their bosses frowned on them taking two weeks vacation together, and thought they were slackers if they took all four weeks in any year. It still surpirses me when in September I ask a colleague, "Did you have a good summer?" to hear the reply, "Yes, I got a lot done ... followed by a list of accomplishments ... But, I didn't get as much done as I wanted ... followed by a confession of things left undone." In my mind, I am asking about vacation, sun, relaxation, fun.

In Europe, people are more ready to take all the time they can get, work shorter weeks, shorter days, and try to relax a bit more. Still, it is changing there too. Bosses are demanding more work. Workers feel more pressure. Like the USA, to live the material dream you need two people working full-time to afford all you want. True relaxation is in short supply.

There is an important idea in taiji called song (pronounced something like "sown"). It is usually translated "relaxed" and refers to an ideal state. We all need a bit more song. In beginning taiji it can be elusive. "Relax the shoulders," you are told but what does it mean? I have discovered that taiji is "better felt than telt." (For those not from Yorkshire, a rough translation is "you can feel what it means, but it is very difficult to put into words." I think that is why most of the books I have read about taiji sound at times to be speaking in riddles.

In my practice today, I was meditating on the state of song. Feeling it too. What does it feel like? A bit like "Mr. Floppy." Your body feels very fluid. Fluid around a stable spine. Very balanced. Feels like you are a puppet. You are conscious of each part of your body and can place attention there to feel the fluidity. Nothing aches. Well-being. Close eyes, pleasantly floating. Alive and alert. Happy.

Got song?


1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately in the good ole U.S. of A, vacation does not mean holiday. It means the only time away from the controlling influence of work. Most people are virtual slaves to their jobs and have no time left in the day to do anythng. Not even cleaning house or other mundane chores. All of these are often caught up on during 'vacation' time. Sort of in the spirit of Maslow's hierarchy, the American working class uses the only free time they have - vacation - to catch up on meeting their first priority of basic survival needs. When those are done and it is finally time to relax, then ... Oops, too late, time to get back to work!
    'Song' seems akin to 'being in the groove'. A feeling that all is well and you are at peace with your inner self and the outer world. Most people just don't have the ability to reach that state because they are so preoccupied with paying the credit card debt or whatnot. To put aside the world in order to fully experience it is a treat indeed.