Everything in balance. Take a break!
Just up from Trafalgar Square at 9am on a Saturday morning we would turn up for our 3 hour Tai Chi class in a hall set below street level. We’d see legs go past the window, but it was an otherwise quiet setting. Upon arrival our instructor would have us all grab a mat and take a nap.
Silence descended and I’d turn my head, slyly opening one eye to see a number of restless bodies. As the minutes passed, the twitching legs would become less twitchy, and I even heard snoring. After 10 to 15 minutes, without comment, and as if by telepathy, everyone would slowly begin putting their mats away and we’d begin.
One of the students asked the question I was wondering. “Why did we just do that?”
The replied was soft, and brief. “You looked like you needed it.”
Take a break to prepare yourself.
I thought this was all the response our Tai Chi instructor was going to provide but after a brief pause, he elaborated. “You commuted here. Commuting is rarely a stress-free experience. Even if it was stress-free, you will have exerted yourself. Tai Chi is about being relaxed. I was letting you relax. Now you can do Tai Chi.”
In an era of ever greater emphasis on productivity, we seem to have forgotten art of balance.
- We exert ourselves, and then we don’t.
- We eat, and then we don’t eat.
- We are awake, and then we sleep.
- We exercise, and then we recover.
Take a break to avoid being a sheep.
I’ve fallen asleep at my keyboard at work trying to meet a crazy deadline. The quality of the work had dropped off a cliff, but I couldn’t afford to stop. It was a false narrative. Stopping would have allowed me to go faster, but my colleague, who was imbued with more stamina than me, kept going and so I didn’t feel I could let them down by taking a break. There is courage, and often sense, in refusing to be swayed by the judgement of others.
Take a break to recuperate.
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