A spanish man once told me that during siesta the spanish sit and stare. Not talking to eachother, not sleeping, not reading... just staring. A somewhat amusing image reminiscent of an artsy independent spanish film arose in my head; everyone symbolically wearing white on white couches and dissonant music playing in the background. Never having been a person that could just sit, I simply did not understand that it was possible in the same dimension I live in.
Meanwhile, I have been developing a technique as of late that I have shown several friends and some clients. It involves sitting on a couch and relaxing all of your muscles, internal organs, facial features, joints etc. for at least 5 minutes. This technique is built on the idea that healing occurs during the times you are unengaged, and that tension and stress can prevent normal functioning. I often recommend this to people with indigestion, PMS, stress or anxiety, insomnia, constipation, TMJ, back issues, digestive disorders of any kind, ulcers etc.
I was subconsciously taking the credit for inventing this "technique", until I was driving home today, exhausted from the most activated super-hero day I've had in a while, and the image of the spanish guy staring at nothing popped into my head. I reinvented the wheel.
Siesta is so key to keeping things running smoothly, especially to those of us who are high-strung, busy, anxious, full-on, fiery go-getters. In Japan, Cambodia, France and Spain I have experienced these types of rest-breaks, and the importance never really sunk in. America is one of the few countries in which we don't take breaks like this, and also where people struggle the most with overeating, stress-related disorders and constipation. If we don't give ourselves the time and space to process our reality--physically and emotionally--we end up metaphysically and physically constipated (in other words... "full of sh**").
How to Take a Good Siesta:
Sit in the most comfortable and supportive position possible. Laying down often leads to naps, which is a different can of worms. Sit and unfocus your eyes, let your belly go, open your teeth and close your lips, let your jaw go, let your face go slack, shoulders relax, thighs relax, hips relax, organs relax, eyelids droop but not close. Do this without music, T.V., books, conversations or any other distracting stimulus for 5-10 minutes every day.
The Siesta Paradigm:
Do one thing at a time. If you are eating; eat. If you are reading; read. The world is not ending tomorrow, the human race is not a race. Slow down. I have been challenging myself lately to eat all of my meals with no other "doing" (no computer, no book, no "to-do list" writing). I appreciate my food more, I eat slower, I taste more, I eat less (because I notice I am eating), and I chew more. My mind is so active I was feeling useless and unproductive during mealtimes, but I have found it one of the most tranquil times. Sitting. Eating.