Forcing the Issue

by Catie Gosselin

This week, while reading The Art of Effortless Living: Simple Techniques for Healing Mind, Body, and Spirit by Ingrid Bacci, Ph.D., I was struck by a point made early in the book. Simply put, Dr. Bacci makes the point that, contrary to popular belief, learning occurs when one is relaxed and receptive. I found this particularly ironic, remembering how many times I had studied feverishly, often until sunrise, only to discard the bulk of this information once the test or paper was complete. I managed to perform for the task at hand, but in the long term, I hadn't learned a thing. If the truth be known, I'm still trying to figure out what I got out of college!

Mentally, I filed this irony under "things that make you go hmmm" and went on about my business.

During a series of poses in my yoga class this weekend, my instructor remarked, "relax and allow your body can go deeper into the stretch." Again, I was struck by the irony. The traditional perspective of exercise, the "no pain, no gain" mentality, says nothing about relaxing. Relaxing is supposed to be something you do after the workout.

What does living, learning or growing have to do with relaxing? I think the modern lifestyle has robbed us of the answer. As a society, we have forsaken our sense of enjoyment and wonder for a state of constant activity and consumption.

How often, at the end of a frenzied day, running from one task to another, do we stop and wonder where the time went? Our attention has become monopolized by an endless to-do list, and we end up ignoring the scenery of our days in the process. Burning the candle at both ends seems to have taken the place of living meaningfully. How can any of us live fulfilling lives when something as small as a relaxing soak in the tub is impossible to squeeze into our schedules?

I think John Lennon put it best by saying, "Life is what happens while you are making other plans." In order to live meaningfully, or to grow at all, one needs to take a step back, away from the "rat race" mentality. I'm not sure who made up "The Rules", but it seems time to question them. Do our children really need to join the soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball and tennis teams? Will working longer hours, getting the promotion and buying even more stuff fill the hole in our hearts?

Seems like a new set of "Rules" is in order.

Copyright 2001
About the author:
Catie Gosselin's is a supporting, empowering community for all women. Catie is the homeschooling mother of two, a wife of 12 years, and she lives in Massachusetts.