Q&A: Any suggestions for relaxing bullishly without getting all new-agey?

Any suggestions for relaxing bullishly? I enjoy running and lifting weights but these activities tend to leave me amped up. I’ve been told to try yoga and meditation but they seem a little new agey for me (and also, cultural appropriation!). Am I misjudging them? Or do you have any suggestions? I’ve read your column where you talked about masonry, but I just don’t think a brick wall will do much for my decor.

Ha! (I wrote about masonry in How to Stay Bullish When You’re Depressed.)

I have an interest in meditation myself, because I am interested in mental clarity and discipline, and I certainly don’t think you have to practice cultural appropriation to meditate. I mean, if you want to meditate your way into “earning” a Tibetan name, um … don’t do that.

But the idea of training your mind is universal, or should be. Try the book Turning the Mind Into an Ally, by Sakyong Mipham.

I was recently heartened when, at a TedX event, speaker (and Buddhist monk) Chongtul Rinpoche commented that you didn’t have to follow all the “rules” in order to meditate: your couch is fine.

As for relaxing bullishly in general, I think the important thing is finding something that is actually refreshing. If you work on a computer, “relaxation” on a computer will not leave you feeling refreshed. Maybe you just want to take walks or go to the movies. Maybe you want to buy a membership to the local art cinema and see every single independent and foreign film that comes through, and then go to the mixers they sometimes have, where you can meet other people with the same hobby.

Or maybe you want to volunteer with dogs. Some of us are a little high strung and trying to relax totally is actually very stressful. I once had a terrible time at a spa, where I had booked 4+ hours of “luxury.” It turns out that I like a one-hour massage, but then I want to get back to business. (I also despise having fruit rubbed on my face, or being slathered in any kind of food whatsoever.)

Taking shelter dogs for a walk isn’t “relaxing,” exactly, but it’s probably satisfying and refreshing and different from what you do during the week.

If they very idea of “relaxation” is kinda stressful to you, axe the idea altogether and look for something that is refreshing, satisfying, meaningful, memorable, or novel. You want to reboot your brain. You don’t have to shut down all systems for hours to do that. You’re young and alive!


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