One of the things that we all need to be able to do is to relax. However, this is something that is not always easy for people to achieve, let alone find the time to attempt. Today’s modern technology and the way in which we are “always on” makes it even more important that we take the time to slow down and to just take it easy. This is a way to “turn off” and recharge our body, mind, and spirit. The two best tools for this are meditation and its prerequisite, relaxation. I’ll do another Simple Meditation Technique article soon, so today we will focus on relaxation.
If you’ve never really tried meditation or to develop a deep state of relaxation, you may find it difficult to do. With practice, it will get easier and eventually you will be able to use these techniques and others to induce a relaxed state almost any time or any place.
There are things you can do to help relax. Some people find listening to soft music and fairly low volume, like spa music or music for meditation. Others find that lighting a scented candle or burning incense can also help your mind and body calm. You may also find it easier in a dimly lit room.
So, turn off the TV, turn off your mobile phone and disconnect for a few minutes. Start out trying to do this for just a few minutes, once a day. Gradually increase the time. You will benefit from even only a few minutes of deep relaxation. So, don’t worry about how long you do it.
Prepare your room conditions as you want. Turn off the lights or light one or more candles. Light some soothing incense and turn on some soft spa music.
Arrange a place where you can lay down.
Wear a robe, with nothing underneath, be naked or in very loose fitting clothes that do not pinch or bind anywhere.
Lie flat on your back, feet together, arms by your sides with your hands by your hips. You may rest your head on a pillow and place a small pillow under your knees to take stress off the muscles in your legs.
In all of the techniques we will explore, proper breathing is essential. Some systems discuss elaborate methods, including counting as you breathe in, counting as you hold your breath, counting as you exhale, counting before you begin inhalation. Some tell you to breathe in one or the other nostrils or mouth. Don’t let details like that worry you. We will keep it simple and do a slow, steady, deep inhalation and exhalation through our noses (if we can). The important thing is to breathe in with your belly, not your chest.
Let’s first see how you breathe.
Put one hand over your heart and the other over your belly button. Now, breathe in slowly until your lungs are full. Which hand moves up first?
You should breathe in so that the hand over your belly moves up well before the one over your chest does.
Now, exhale slowly through your nose until the air is fully out. Again, which hand moved first?
You should concentrate on your breathing so that it is your abdomen that is moving the air in an out. The diaphragm is what pumps the air, not your chest. Unfortunately, many people are chest-breathers. Breathing in that way puts extra stress on your chest muscles and does not allow you to have full, deep-belly breaths. So, try to work on pulling the air in by raising your abdomen, then pushing it out with your abdomen.
Continue breathing deeply, drawing air deep into your belly and chest and then slowly exhaling. Do not force either or stress the breaths too much. They should be natural and flow smoothly. Do not hold your breath or clench any muscles during the motion. One tendency people have is to bear down or clench, holding the breath in their full lungs. This is detrimental and is not necessary. Just breathe in fully and naturally exhale slowly and deeply. I read once that people leave a large amount of air in their lungs when the exhale because they exhale very shallowly. We want to get all the air out before we draw in the next breath.
During this time, your mind may be all over the place. You may be thinking about events of the day, news, your kid’s soccer game or any number of things. That’s ok. When your mind does drift to a topic, just let it go and try not to dwell on any point or topic or start analyzing things. Just note that you were thinking about something, and let it go.
It helps greatly to focus your concentration on your breathing. Focus your mind on your abdomen and guide the breathing with your mind. This helps push out extraneous thoughts. If you’re busy thinking about your breathing, it is hard to think about your tax returns.
Continue breathing like this. Just doing this and nothing else will start to relax you. But, we want to go deeper. So, now raise your focus and your attention to your feet. Think about your toes. Clench the muscles in your toes and hold them contracted for a few seconds. Then, unclench and feel the oxygen-rich blood flowing into them, relaxing the muscles. Now focus on both feet and clench all the muscles in them. Hold it for a few seconds then unclench. Feel the muscles melt into the floor as they become relaxed.
Move your attention up to your calves and clench the muscles for a few seconds. Unclench and let them relax, filling with warmth.
Move your attention to your thighs and repeat the process. Do not rush the process, but clench them for 3 to 5 seconds and then let go. If you feel you need to repeat this on any body part, do so.
Move up to your butt and clench/relax it while focusing your attention there.
Raise your attention to your groin and clench/relax the muscles there.
Repeat for your abdomen.
Then your lower back.
Your upper back
Your upper arms
Your hands and fingers
The muscles in your jaw
The muscles in your face, making funny faces as you tighten all the muscles…
Lastly, focus your attention on the top of your head and tighten the muscles in your scalp… yes there are muscles there. Finally, relax and feel all of the muscles in your body melting into the floor and free from stress and tension.
Continue breathing deeply and laying in this relaxed state for a long as you can devote. Try to do it for at least one minute and no more than twenty or thirty to start with.
When your time is up, look around, wiggle your arms and legs, hands and feet, fingers and toes. Sit up and rube your face with your hands.
I like to do an exercise I call “brushing off the dust”. I visualize I accumulated a light dusting of white dust or powder all over my body. I use my hands to wipe it all off from the top of my head, down my face and neck, over the shoulders and arms, back (as best I can) and chest, abdomen, groin, ass, legs, and feet.
Now, you’re ready to resume the rest of your wonderful day!
Yours in Light,