Sedation-relaxation asks “are you remaining calm (no matter what)?”
Aware-relaxation asks “what is actually happening?” to which your body might have a wide array of responses.
There are a variety of ways to accomplish sedation-relaxation, to quiet down the wild animal inside: our phones, other people’s approval, work, drugs, alcohol, Netflix, exercise that recapitulates fight-or-flight scenarios, even certain ways of practicing meditation and yoga.
Nothing is inherently wrong with any of these, in my opinion. Seriously. The world is an intense f’ing place! And lord knows it can be good — even quite wise — to just check out sometimes.
But if the deepest interest is in what’s true, we might consider the more responsive state as the better option. “I look for what needs to be done,” said Buckminster Fuller. “After all, that’s how the universe organizes itself.”
If the emphasis is on “let it go,” rather than on letting go being one possible byproduct of seeing what’s really happening in any given scenario, then we’re much less set up to do anything in response.
You might relax. You might tense up. You might experience a knowing about a conversation you need to have that you’ve been avoiding.
(Or as one of my teachers often says when confronted with how-do-I-fix-this type questions, “what do you know that you wish you didn’t?”)
But whatever response you have, you’ll be free, knowing it’s coming from something true, and not from a fantasy about how you wish you were, how you wish the world was.