Interesting talk. I don't think many people would get it to any level of depth until they can makes sense of some of the phrases used like "just relax" and "do nothing" - and other ones needed along the way like "just feel", "no attachment", etc.
The levels of aikido are strength, technique, harmony, michi. My opinion of "just relax" and "do nothing" is that you can't get very far (considering those levels) starting with little other information than just relax" and "do nothing".
- Add years of trying waza with someone who has some degree of internal harmony and aiki who continues to help you with what it isn't (and maybe some hints like "keep weight underside", "vertical is main", "put your intention there", etc.) and you make SOME progress. Get to work with such people and steal by means of kinesthetic perception in ukemi and you get further. You can actually get somewhere reasonably impressive (intermediate level - technique and some degree of harmony) after about 20-30 years of that kind of thing.
- Have the chance of kinesthetic perception with such people as your ukes for concentrated amounts of time (like hours most days) and you make a lot more progress. You can probably get somewhere reasonably impressive (intermediate level) after about 10-15 years of that kind of thing.
- Actually train "central equilibrium" directly and "just relax" helps. You can take a short breath in, and let yourself melt a bit and only stay held up by all of the forces being mentally managed by means of intentions and you can start making some very good progress quickly. You can probably get somewhere reasonably impressive (intermediate level) after about 1-5 years of that kind of thing.
In this way, I am learning how to approach a "productive do nothing" because the additive forces of someone trying to attack/manipulate me are just managed along with all of my own forces without me being very aware of it.
To do this I had to work at learning to "feel" my body into proper structure as opposed to trying to "think" my body into proper strucure which would unfortuntely fight my own muscles. To do that I have not only started yoga, tai massage, and active isolated streteching, but also, I have concentrated on learning to "just feel".
To "just feel" I have had to really let go of the idea of "control" and of the ideas of "attachment to outcome". Basically a lot of the zen crap I read (that really added no value to my previous training) started to finally make a bit of sense. I had been in the "finesse to hide my structural weaknesses" stage. It was primarily all "technique". At the time, my thoughts about aikido resulted in a lot of "talking" which was a form of "control" which was "attached to the outcome" of avoiding someone getting to my weaknesses before I could take control of their weaknesses.
Getting into the "just feel" track to "just relax" seems like it can lead to the level of michi - but of course that seems like an attachment to an outcome and that puts me into zen-thinking that isn't helping much at present again...