relaxing by the sea

Relaxing for Peace and Clarity

“They seek for themselves private retiring places, as country villages, the sea-shore, mountains: yea thou thyself art wont to long much after such places. It is in thy power to retire into thyself, and to be at rest, and free from all businesses. A man cannot retire better than to his own soul; he especially who is beforehand provided of such things within, which whensoever he doth withdraw himself to look in, may presently afford unto him perfect ease and tranquility. … Afford then thyself this retiring continuity,and thereby refresh and renew. … What remains then, but that thou often put in practice this kind of retiring of thyself, to this little part of thyself; and above all things, keep thyself from distraction, … but be free and consider all things.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Retiring Places

What Aurelius is calling “retiring places” doesn’t mean a place to go when we retire. Or at least it is not limited to that. He means a place where we go to relax, unwind, escape our busy, everyday lives. It is what a real vacation is all about.

When Aurelius was alive, the sea-shore, the mountains, or a quiet villages were possibly the only choices one had for doing this. Now we are fortunate enough to have many more places to go to unwind and relax. We can hike in a forest, visit an amusement park, or take an ocean cruise (my personal favorite), just to mention a few possibilities. But not all leisure activities are relaxing. One must choose carefully if that is the goal.

Into Thyself

Marcus wisely points out that there are internal as well as external options for relaxing. In fact, all relaxing is internal, though it may be stimulated by external things.

Some of us can afford to take vacations to the sea or the mountains only occasionally. Others can’t afford it at all. That doesn’t mean they cannot relax and escape the hustle and bustle. They have to go inside themselves to do it. They can practice forms of meditation and visualization specifically designed to let them escape. Continue reading “Relaxing for Peace and Clarity”