Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Today, Julie and her boyfriend Brian start their big move from the Northeast to California. They will travel by car and do some work along the way. It is a combination trip with work and pleasure.

My friend Mary from the Netherlands is starting to get ready to go back to the Netherlands. She and Brian are having an intense couple of last days, because when she flies back it will be only Internet and phone to communicate until Brian visits the Netherlands.

When my friend Paul arrived on Saturday, we integrated him in our busy schedule that now combines sightseeing with playing music, starting up a company, work through other scheduled stuff and do some socializing with friends. By Monday morning Paul revealed that he was happy to be able to stay home that day and settle in while Mark and I went to work and did our busy thing!

So, this makes me think about relaxation. It's a topic lots of people seem to talk about when they are busy or are in the middle of an intense lifestyle. They have theories about the amount of relaxation you need and about how important balance is in your life. As a mentor, I like to clarify words like relaxation and balance and it is intriguing that these words have so many meanings that it is hard to understand each other, without clarification.

Some people use relaxation to describe the period they don't have to work. It's the time they spend with family and friends. For some it's time they only spend on "want to", and "have to" is not invited! These people often get disappointed, because there seems never to be enough time for the "want to". For others it's a word they use to point out to others that their schedules are ridiculous and what they do is unhealthy. Then there are people who use relaxation not to describe any physical action, but relaxation of the mind. You also have different groups in this category:  like the group who wants to relax themselves and the group who tells others to relax!

The word balance seems to mean in most of these kind of conversations: a balance between work and relaxation! Personally, I do not believe in a distinction between work and relaxation, so I do not believe in balance. Let me try to explain how I operate:

I believe that relaxation is a state of mind. I do not attach being relaxed to what I am doing, but to the happiness I choose while doing it. The intense feeling of happiness  is what I describe as relaxation. So I relax while writing this blog and getting my mind clear on this subject. I relax while discussing the daily tasks with Mark so we are sure that everything works out, I relax while stacking three cords of wood, or when I have sex, when I am in the playroom or doing a dialogue.

There are things that can influence my state of mind in a negative way (choosing unhappiness). Some very practical examples are food (I am intolerant for milk and white flower products) and sleep. But I cannot say that I do balance with those either. There are moments that I can do with six hours of sleep a night, and there are other periods that I sleep eight or nine hours a night. There are foods that I avoid, but I do not use a regulated schedule or program to make sure I balance my food. There are even moments in which I choose the immediate happiness of sharing a meal with someone instead of taking care of my diet! This I start to do less and less, because my body seems to slowly develop more intolerance to certain foods.

I do have my preferences: I want to spend time with my husband Mark, I want to do work that is meaningful and gratifying, I want to go on a holiday once in a while, I want to enjoy the people and the world around me. I want to share my thoughts with others. And the fun thing is: when I create what I want, I am happy and so... relaxed!

How do you relax? How do you define relaxation and balance? Do you do balance in your life?

1 comment:

  1. Right now I do not feel that my life is balanced. I say that - not because I spend to much time working or to little time working, but because I feel exhausted.

    I relaxe by chatting at the internet, walking the dog, meditating, doing sports, reading and going to the movie.

    - and I do do all of these things

    But the thing is that over the summer I have had a lot of back pains (again) and when this is the case I need to spend more time laying on my back and more time on sleeping. - and for some reason I have thought I could do this AND still do all the other nice things such as relaxing, teaching, volenteer in son-rise, exchange dialogues - and of course spending time with family and friends.

    So thank you Iris, I just realised that if I do not want to be exhausted - I will ned to cut down something then I have back pains (life is so simple...)



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