Prior to spa treatments at Ten Thousand Waves, guests are encouraged to relax and unwind with cups of tea, sitting by the fire, dipping their toes in the foot bath, lounging in the sauna, or resting in the Relaxation Room, among other things. Now, I do know how to relax when it is called for, as evidenced by the gargling snores that startled me awake during my foot massage, but when I am waiting to meet an appointment–even if that appointment is sheer relaxation on my part–I have a very difficult time shutting off my brain. In fact, the more I am told to relax, the worse it gets.
I don’t think I’m an unusually uptight person. I’m not mellow as the Fall by any means, but I’m pretty happy left to myself. Left to myself in a Relaxation Room?
B and I went into the room because I was bored and antsy by the fire. Maybe they should have given me decaf tea? Anyway, the room is greenhouse styled, with full walls of windows opening out into the courtyard to a beautiful view. Tiny, flat cushions are situated against the wall, ringing tatami mats for those who relax by stretching. Above the cushions are headphones. B and I took seats together, having our pick since we were the only people in the room, and put on our headphones.
The track playing on the headphones was one of a rainstorm, with what sounded like a steady, soaking rain, thunder in the distance, and a zap of lightning now and then. This should be relaxing, shouldn’t it? Well, it wasn’t. You see, where I am from, when rain sounds like that, it means flash flooding. Flash flooding means the roads are going to be a mess, and that means I am going to have to get up an hour earlier than usual just to get to work on time. If I’m lucky.
I glanced over at B to see if he was feeling the same pressure to beat traffic, and found him in a peaceful pose. I did the only thing I could do. I poked him.
“This rain is giving me stress,” I told him.
“Shh,” he said, and closed his eyes. He’s used to me.
I tried to leave the Texas of my mind and go to Georgia. Georgia, my grandparents’ house, is my happy place. So, going there, I found I could enjoy the rainfall a bit more. That is, I could enjoy it until I realized that with that kind of rain, I wouldn’t be allowed out on the backporch because it had a metal roof. Grandma would have the sliding door open and the humidity inside the house would be like living in a rain forest, and she would be chain smoking so that a cloud of Carlton would be smothering me with its full tar oppression.
I looked back over at B. Peaceful. Jaw slightly slack. I poked him again.
“This isn’t working.” I explained Grandma’s cigarettes and his brow furrowed.
“Shh,” he said.
I sighed. The track changed so that the soaking rain shifted into a rushing creek. Then, I gave B a shove and cried, “See?! Flash flooding!” And I took off my headphones.
B went back to his happy place, ignoring my inability to relax. I sat quietly for a few moments, breathing in and out, focusing on the perfect circle in the gate across the way, going to my other happy place where I am holding an infant Thor and feeling his fuzzy head. Proud that I had managed to relax somewhat, I glanced back over at B and realized he was in perfect posture, even holding Om Fingers.
I was impressed! So, I poked him.
“You’re doing Om Fingers!”
He sighed at me. “Yes.”
I tried. It wasn’t comfortable. I said so. Because he is patient (and used to me), B tried to show me a variation. Still not comfortable, and I said so. He suggested I try being quiet. Patiently. I shrugged, and as he went back to Om, I closed my eyes and moved my fingers around until I found a satisfying position. I felt good. I felt happy. I felt…dare I say it? Relaxed. I waited until I was certain that this was the pose for me, then elbowed him again.
“This is what is comfortable for me.” I showed him.
He started laughing and gave up on any hope of meditation as long as I was sitting beside him, and suggested we go back into the main lobby and wait by the fire.
And we did.
And it was good.