Learning the art of relaxing

I’m trying to teach myself the art of relaxing; to live in the moment.
It is an acquired skill for me, doesn’t fall under my list of natural talents the way eating at the speed of light seemed to jump on to the list with no effort on my part.
It’s an old-dog, new-trick sort of thing, I suspect, but certainly worth a try.
I was imagining what the most relaxing pastimes would be if I was compiling a list, as I am inclined to do. Nothing gives permission to doze off like hanging in a hammock, in the shade, feeling the bio-rhythms of nature, gently swaying back and forth, snugly enfolded in comfort (as long as the hammock is constructed from the appropriate material).
My sister and I made hammocks between the rails of the loading chute of our corral when we were kids. We used sisal bale twine and braided the strands together.
It required a great deal of work and we were proud of our efforts–proud until we tried to sleep in them one warm summer night amidst the swarms of mosquitoes. The discomfort was noticeable, so I made mental note at that time of the qualities required of a good hammock.
Another idea, relatively new to my awareness, is a float tank (sometimes called a sensory attenuation tank). I was obligated to confess my limited vocabulary when confronted with the word attenuation and had to consult Webster for assistance.
Attenuation refers to the reduction of a force, so in this case sensory reduction. The individual floats in a lightless, soundproof tank in highly-salted water at body temperature.
Mostly anecdotal evidence points to relief of rheumatoid arthritis pain and other forms of chronic pain.
But I’m not sure I would do well in that small space. I think my “flight” trigger would be set off with the idea of being confined in a chamber that speaks to my Stephen King imagination.
The whole idea of relaxation got me thinking about a paddleboat and being on the water. A canoe or kayak implies athleticism and pushing one’s self, digging in and going for it. Stroke, stroke, stroke.
It sparks the competitive nature.
But a paddleboat, not in the least. A paddleboat, by its very nature, makes me giggle with the relative lack of control in wave-filled waterways and the fact that paddleboats are constructed with a cup holder (saying something about the nature of an outing).
I picture being out on the ocean in my paddleboat (though I don’t have one), rising up over the waves and down the other side without risk or injury. No sharks or giant squid, no one shouting “Release the Kraken,” are allowed in my mental image, no whales breaching and coming down on top of me.
Just me and my paddleboat, and a close friend along for the ride, to share giggles and “remember when” stories.
One of my favourite relaxing methods would be wiggling my toes in the waters of Rainy Lake while perched on a rock, with a gentle lake breeze blowing across my face.
Sitting in my rocking chair with one of my wee grandchildren asleep and tucked under my chin, rocking back and forth and back and forth, is second-to-none and is all about everything being right in the universe.
But I’d really like a paddleboat.
wendistewart@live.ca

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