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Relaxation After Exercise

Even with its deficiencies -- such as abuse by politically-motivated hacks -- we should still be grateful for Wickipedia. Without dictionaries and encyclopedias, we are at the mercy of long-winded books, which results in endless procrastination; and our curiosity dies on the vine.

For years I have fallen into deep, blissful relaxation after exercise, particularly bicycling. Conscious relaxation -- not true sleep. Let northern-European Protestant and American-Puritan culture be damned: a siesta of some type is healthy and natural after the mid-day meal! It attains perfection after a morning of aerobic exercise.

And it happened again today. Ahh, how I miss these sessions with my little poodle. I finally got around to reading up on 'Relaxation' in Wikipedia. The prose did not impress me, but there was this photograph of doggie yoga by a Maltese:

So many people think that dogs smell bad; but I'm here to tell you that a small shedless dog, which has been washed with doggie shampoo, smells delicious resting on your shoulder during these blissful, conscious siestas. (This photo is redolent of the doggie yoga scene in the movie, "Good Boy.")

If Meditation and Yoga weren't tainted with the cultural fads of the 1960s and early 1970s, I might have made an effort to learn something about them. Instead I have settled for rolling my eyes over them.

But does it make sense to make a homework project out of reading about relaxation? When I think back over all these post-exercise somnolences, while I fantasized or listened to dreamy music like one of John Barry's movie scores, it would be a desecration to see them reduced to a formula or a cut-and-dried science. It is so much better to feel like you have personally discovered some magnificent secret -- and who cares if millions have discovered it before you!


XXXXX said…
This is when you are at your best, like nothing else I find in other blogs....when you go within yourself to find the origin of your posts rather than looking out at the world and bitching or otherwise finding fault.
I hope you take this as the true compliment it is meant to be and not biting criticism.
Simple awareness on the one hand but a rarity to speak about and that is what makes it so special.

I think the kind of relaxation you speak of comes with age more than napping after exercise. I doubt that a young person napping after exercise would have the same experience. I tend to think that person would just fall asleep for the rejuvenation effect and then be off again without a thought.
It is a lovely thing of getting older to BE rather than to DO or to HAVE. Sorry for the lack of originality with my words. To simply reflect on the WHAT IS and not need to change or fix anything. To enjoy becoming more conscious of these things in an accepting sort of way. And lest I offend a young person, my point is that young people must be much more motivated for career, family, financial security, etc. and older folk have already established these things, usually.
The world is full of gimmicks and there's always a motive, usually money or power. What you are talking about is totally free and must be discovered totally on one's own. No one can lead you there.

A little side note. That state you call it conscious relaxation. That is the state where one can achieve Active Imagination as described in Johnson's book. Imagine for a moment if you directed your mind to relive the experience with the woman at Starbucks and, in that relaxed and dreamy state, imagine having a dialogue with her. Anything you want and imagine how she would answer you. You don't have to worry about being politically correct or socially acceptable. If words don't come you could observe her too, observe her smile or frown, body language, from which you can gauge her intention. The important thing is that you don't try to direct the experience in any way but rather let it play out as your inclination wishes.

It's always amazing to me that posts like this usually get little attention. To me, they make my day. What I wish human communication was composed of much more often.
John V said…
Few things are as relaxing as an afternoon snuggle and nap with a dog. You're right, if they're clean, they smell good, but that doggie breath can get you sometimes with an older dog!
Chris said…

There is almost nothing more pleasurable than stretching out on the couch in the Lazy Daze for a nap with the small goldendoodle on the couch, snuggling up, and the big goldendoodle lying beside the couch enjoying his tummy rub. Soon we all drift off and life continues to be especially good. Great post, Boonie.

Jim and Gayle said…
It's just as relaxing snuggling with cats;)
OK, we have to pretend to give equal treatment to cat-lovers.(grin) But seriously, it's not the same. The human and the dog can be "hunting" and exercise partners in the morning, followed by a siesta snuggle together. You just can't do that with a cat.
John V said…
Aren't cats the ones who kill young children while they sleep by sucking the air out of their lungs? ;-)
Thanks for the compliments.

I'm surprised that you like to see somebody go "within themselves", instead of "looking out at the world." People are usually insufferably boring talking about themselves, so why isn't writing the same? You have no sympathy for Bertrand Russell's sermon against self-absorption in his "Conquest of Happiness?"

Actually I didn't think this post was too self-absorbed because it was about a mostly physiological state. Surely there isn't too much difference between my physiology and other people's.
XXXXX said…
I haven't read "Conquest of Happiness" and I see it is over 200 pages long so more than I can tackle to answer. However, based on what you've said, I would agree that self-absorption is an undesirable thing. Probably now what is called narcissism.
Whether some people can be narcissistic and happy is the subject of another day.
I don't think that's what you wrote about at all. That's not at all the same thing as going within.
I wouldn't diminish the content of your post by labeling what you described as physiological. Of course, you said "mostly" physiological. It started that way, I guess. Being able to relax in the quiet of your own space, the body readily cooperating for any stress, etc. had been worked away through exercise, etc. Then the dog snuggles up and you slowly begin to enter "conscious relaxation." The physiological response of the body cooperated, for sure, but then it went to a whole new level.
At that point, you began to fully experience the wonderful state of "conscious relaxation" and you were able to withdraw from the rest of the world and go within. You realized you missed the little poodle, felt appreciation for your "hunting companion", a pack animal like yourself, and you both nestled into each other as only those who walk together and have learned to trust each other can do with complete abandonment and surrender.
That's what you described. And that is what I appreciated.
I felt totally sure when you mentioned yoga. You didn't elaborate but I felt your mentioning of it came to your mind because you think it is in some way similar and you wondered why/how.
And you are correct. It is. If you can get past the crap, which you also alluded to.
So, no, your post was not self-absorbed at all. Instead it was about a human feeling that we all are capable of if we let ourselves go there. That is what I found of great worth.
Your last sentence is correct, but I would extend it well beyond physiology.
I do believe this is one of the characteristics of good writing. Going within to find a human quality, something part of the human condition, which we all share but which we might not be fully in touch with. By sharing one's personal experience about this characteristic/quality with others (whether vocally or in writing,... it makes no difference), it allows other people to get in touch with this quality within themselves more readily.