Learning to Relax

I don't know about you, but I'm not very good at relaxing. Anytime I think I'm relaxed (getting a massage, a pedicure, or trying a new adventure), my bubble bursts when someone tells me to "relax". I'm so used to being on the go all the time that when I do have down time, I don't quite know how to slow down and relax. 

Case in Point - Jamaica. I've been in Jamaica for the past 4 days and still find myself consumed by sticking with a schedule or planning the next event or outing. I knew staying at a resort would be challenging since I'm staying at the same place all week. But I've filled my time with working out, the beach, the pool, activities, and hanging with friends. It's been a good challenge. 


I've always wanted to go diving. I've been snorkeling several times in various exotic places. Yet, I've never taken the opportunity to learn to dive. I decided Jamaica would be the perfect place since I have all the time in the world. And I thought it would be a piece of cake. You strap on an oxygen mask and set out to explore the underwater world. What could be hard about that? Yet, like so many experiences in life, I was wrong. I went through the two hour PADI course and discovered it was not as easy as I had imagined. Two big components of diving are breathing and relaxing. I thought I would have the breathing part down since I've been doing yoga routinely, yet again, I was wrong. There are a lot of things to learn and remember in diving - breathing, remaining calm, underwater sign language, how to clear a mask filled with water, and more. 


It was challenging (for me) to say the least. The instructor kept telling me to stay calm and relax. And in the end after many failed attempts, he told me that I am too tense and don't know how to relax. Too tense. Don't know how to relax. Hmm...that sounds familiar. So after 2 hours of training, I did not pass and was asked to come back the next day. I felt defeated and did not want to finish. Everyone kept reassuring me that I would be okay, but I was convinced otherwise. I even woke up in the middle of the night with anxiety about going back. I am too tense and I don't know how to relax. How would I make it in the ocean like that? 

I woke up the next day and had decided I was not going to finish. I didn't enjoy the training experience, so why continue? But thanks to reassurance from my friends and others who had been diving before and the reminder to myself to take action and make myself uncomfortable, I decided to go back and complete the training. I told myself to just focus on breathing and the rest would happen naturally. And it did. The instructor had me swim underwater for a while to practice the art of relaxation. I learned to control my breath and not be afraid. 

Later that same afternoon, I went on my first 30-foot dive. It wasn't as overwhelming or scary as I imagined it to be. And I just kept focusing on my breath and was able to enjoy a whole new world underwater. I still have much more to learn, but I am so proud of myself for facing my fear and squashing my anxiety. I know that I am capable of much more - I just have to learn to relax and trust myself. 

After I leave Jamaica, I head to Guatemala for the Wildhearted Retreat. All that has happened this week is preparing me for what's to come. I know that if I can slow down, relax, and learn to trust myself, a whole new world of possibility will open up. 

How about you? Where do you find yourself resisting new experiences and the urge to relax, breathe, and let go?