due to various reasons, in the past i have not touched the guitar for quite some time (think years rather than months). now that i have started again, i am learning that this period of not practicing (and performing) has been immensely productive for my playing.
first of all, as i started again, i found that very quickly i could do things i had been practicing years before, and which i expected to take a long time to build up again. apparently, my body remembers much more that i am consciously aware of. this has been a great relief, because it made me lose the idea that i needed to practice a lot each day in order to 'keep up my chops'.
i was very surprised by this, and this was great in another way: i was actively and eagerly listening what came out of my hands. and this is an ability that makes a big difference: rather than trying to direct my playing with my thinking, there is a constant loop between my fingers and my ears, with my brain taking the backseat.
so i can advise everyone to try this exercise (which may not be so simple, if you are atttached to your practicing routines or the habit of playing while watching tv): put away your guitar for a couple of weeks. success guaranteed!!
(for the slightly less daring people: take my words as a comfort that whenever you are not able to play, this is not something to lament, but rather to cheerfully welcome).