At the beginning of the week, you pray for the weekend to arrive. Like everyone else, you are living your life waiting for the weekend. You think about how much fun you will have or simply yearn to relax since there is no work to do. The weekend is supposed to be a time to relax yet, on Monday morning, you have a hard time getting out of bed. This is because you do not know how to relax. Instead of doing the things that make you laugh, you go to bed too late and convince yourself that everything is fine.
Relaxation is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Make sure to incorporate it into your everyday life. We do not know when relaxation became an important part of mental wellbeing. The only thing we know for sure is that it has a long history. Here is the short version.
Find out what the Romans did for relaxation
Letting worries, tension, and stress go away has many advantages, such as lowering blood pressure, improving digestion, and reducing the activity of stress hormones. Relaxation techniques have been present for thousands of years. The Romans, for example, has a multitude of leisure pursuits. They liked to watch gladiatorial fights. It is hard to understand why the Romans enjoyed these combats so much. At present, they would be considered barbaric. At the time, it was not something out of the ordinary. People expected sport, wit, and, in general, something to rest their eyes.
Roman citizens took pleasure in going to parties. At social gatherings, they were entertained with music and poetry. Parties took place at all levels of society, even though history books mostly recollect the ones thrown by the elite. In addition to music and poetry, these parties included sophisticated food and elaborate guest. Enough about parties, let us talk about the public baths. They were constructed on hot springs, which were believed to have healing powers. The Romans took long baths for relaxation purposes. The average person stayed in the baths for an hour or more. If you ever run out of ideas when it comes to entertaining yourself, do as the Romans do.
How popular was meditation in the 18th century?
Our ancestors engaged in practices that helped them live healthier and more balanced lives. Today, you would enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the spa. In the old days, this was not an option. Spas appeared in the 19th century. The wealthy and rising bourgeoise class went to the spa in the hope that they would cure their illnesses. Spa towns were the equivalents of medical centres or rehab retreats. Getting back on topic, in the 18th century, emphasis was placed on meditation. People had discovered Buddhism and wanted to know all about the mindful practice of meditation.
Thanks to travelling and communication, knowledge spread quite fast. Intellectuals such as Schopenhauer and Voltaire asked for toleration towards meditation. Most importantly, spiritual teachers began migrating to the West and shaping individual culture. Meditation was no longer confined to religious teachings. On the contrary, it became a modern practice supported by scientific knowledge and used by anyone seeking spiritual fulfilment. Ancient teachings were translated to the scholars of the West, not to mention that several meditation halls opened. It was not until the 20th century that meditation achieved the peak of its popularity. You too should engage in the healing practice of the Vedic tradition.
1929 – Jacobson publishes Progressive Relaxation
Dr Edmund Jacobson is the person who invented the term relaxation. In 1929, he published a medical book entitled Progressive Relaxation, in which he describes a procedure for removing muscular tension. He talked about a technique that was centred around tightening and relaxing specific muscle groups. We know it as the progressive relaxation technique. As you can imagine, the book addressed doctors and medical scientists. Jacobson did not invest the idea of relaxation. However, he completely changed the character of relaxation, which was considered a mere distraction.
Thanks to Dr Edmund Jacobson, people who suffered from stress could fix their problem. It was demonstrated that relaxation is good for the health and that it is good enough to overcome a stressful day. Interestingly, Jacobson’s work led to people using the term ‘relax’ more and more. They wanted to relax, and not to calm down or become less tense. Interestingly, Jacobson’s treatment was not as relaxing as you would imagine. The absence of soft music and the lack of aromatherapy says it all. What is more, the doctor would frequently tell patients that they were not doing well at all.
To sum up, history and relaxation go hand in hand. For as long as they can remember, people have tried to control their anxiety and reach a mindful state. What about you? Do you not need to relax?