the original kStyle blog.

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Our tai ch'i teacher tells us, with a smile, "Relax. If you get lost in the form, relax more."

There's a whole universe of psychology in her simple words. How often do we relax more when we're lost or late or not getting it? Instead we intensify our efforts, a response which often causes more errors, more lateness, more lostness, if you think about it.

It's been a challenge, taking her Relax More Credo from tai ch'i into real life. Part of the difficulty lies in other people. If I relax more, they might view me poorly, even becoming angry, wrongly perceiving that I'm too cavalier, not trying hard enough, lazy. In fact, they have: Once I looked "too relaxed" in a meeting for my then-boss' liking, and for the next week she harped on the notion that I clearly didn't have enough work.

Really though, any negative response to my would-be relaxation is not my problem, but the problem of the person harboring the negative response. So what's my problem? It's part human self-consciousness; the need to be accepted by the pack. Mostly, however, it's that I am far too aware of Consequences. I am all too conditioned to the sort of thinking that goes, for example, "If my boss gets angry at me for being too relaxed, she might give me more work, and I'll never be able to do it all successfully, and then I'll be fired, and I won't be able to pay my student loans or rent or car payments and maybe I'll have to declare bankruptcy and then I'll become a moocher, a burden upon others, and I'll be stuck living in a Salvation Army, or worse, with my parents..." and so on. [Note: I do love my parents, but I imagine I would have more pride and freedom and less guilt at Sally's.] It's sort of a reverse-nihilism: Everything matters, and it all matters equally; if you allow the possibility of something not mattering, then it might follow that nothing matters, and then where would we be? This sort of reasoning is the same one that gets authority figures all worked up about, say, apathetic teens, and even, perhaps, the sort of reasoning that got my boss worked up about my relaxation.

What to do? What can you do?

Anchor in the breath and relax more.


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