In our current crazy world (a world in which productivity is our religion [the cult of productivity]), to relax, to rest, to sleep, to take a nap, or to sleep (more) than 6-8 hours a night is considered a sin.

But I would actually say:

It takes more courage, skill, and fortitude to force yourself to relax than to force yourself to be ‘productive’.

Relaxing is not a sin.

Otium (active leisure) is necessary to self-develop yourself into something greater, and also to make great art. However the problem is in today’s world, to rest, to relax, or to do nothing is considered a sin. If you have ever felt guilty for not ‘being productive’, for not answering all the emails in your inbox (or delaying on them), or for sleeping ‘too much’, you are a culprit to this cult of productivity.

The first step:

See sleep, rest, relaxation and recovery as a virtue.

A ‘transvaluation’ (new valuation) of sleep, rest, recovery is essential. To de-learn or to un-learn productivity for productivity sake is the first goal. We must banish this ‘protestant work ethic’ from our breasts.

Practical techniques

First– the extreme hot bath technique. I discovered this as a hugely useful way to relax, after living in Japan (staying at a ryokan, taking hot baths at least twice a day), or even when staying at a ‘salaryman’ hotel in Tokyo– having a ritual hot bath in the evening.

There is something about a (really) hot bath in the evening which acts like horse tranquilizer. Also the upside of taking a hot bath:

Typically, you don’t use your phone or stimulate yourself audio-visually when you are taking a bath … unless you take your phone with you into the bathtub [not to be advised].

When I take a really hot bath to relax, I typically finish off with a cold shower to just perk me up a bit. Funny enough– a cold shower after a really hot bath is even *MORE* relaxing for your muscles.

Technical considerations

If I slept really poorly the night before, and I want to force myself to take a nap or to rest or relax during the day, I typically take a really hot bath (or a hot shower, followed by a cold shower) or just a cold shower, then I jump into my bed (close all the blackout curtains), surround myself with darkness, and I put in earplugs and my Bose QC35 II headphones on, with white noise (DarkNoise app, with the ‘White noise’ setting). I am currently living next to a busy street, in which the street noise, and the rumbling of the passing cars ‘micro-wakes’ me. This triple-measure (first putting in earplugs [I like the ‘Hearos’ brand] and then putting on my noise-cancelling headphones *OVER* my earplugs, and then put on the white noise app) I find it to virtually block all street noise which can disrupt my nap. Also, the noise-cancelling function of the Bose QC 35 II headphones seems to work quite well. And the good thing about these headphones is that they seem to be comfortable enough to wear for a long period of time (even when sleeping) for 8+ hours, without discomfort on my ears.

Disconnect.

Turn your phone completely off, or turn it to airplane mode, and get it out of your sight. When taking a nap, resting, relaxing … just put the phone into a drawer somewhere, or put it in a different room or floor of your home.

Relaxation as a road to meditate, think, and to reflect in life.


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