In a previous article, Sit Still, Your Power Awaits You, I discussed why it is relevant that we regularly take time to redirect our conscious energy away from our physical existence. Stepping out of this mechanical experience is our first move toward liberation from automatic behaviour and creates space for the non-physical aspects of ourselves. Seems fairly obvious, where attention goes, energy flows. Following is a practical implementation of this understanding into a relaxation exercise.
Sit in a comfortable seated position, with an erect spine and closed eyes.
Begin by intentionally relaxing all of the muscles in your body. Starting in your legs; with each breath, feel the tension in your legs leave your body with each out-breath, and actively feel the release in your muscles. Move to your back, shoulders, neck and face and follow the same procedure. Repeat this at least once until you feel a deep relaxation throughout, finding almost no tension when you return your attention to any particular part of the body. Use this relaxed state to keep your body from moving at all. No finger twitches, no changing of position, no swallowing, nothing. NO MOVEMENT. Besides for your breathing of course. If you must move in any way, including to swallow any saliva that’s gathered in your mouth, do it as slowly and smoothly as you can manage. Maintain this stillness throughout the rest of your sitting.
Next, you will bring calmness and serenity to your breath itself. Slow it down. Do not rush from one breath to the next; allow each to exist as long as it comfortably can. As the rate of your breathing slows down, shift your focus to the transition that lies between each breath. How smoothly does this take place? Aim for exceptionally smooth, with no sudden starts or stops, the beginning and end of each breath almost nowhere to be found. The depth of your breathing should be comfortable, natural, as deep as your body chooses it to be. At first, it is difficult to allow the breath to find its own depth whenever you focus on it, but with practice, you will be able to. Spend anywhere between 20 to 100 breaths calming your breathing.
Lastly, and most unfamiliar to many, you will begin to bring stillness to your eyes, eventually ceasing all movements even here. At this point, you should be feeling very calm, and you will learn through your own insight on how to extend the stillness into your eyes. Even though they are closed, their endless search for input continues. Spend 2-5min intentionally bringing calmness into this part of yourself. It really is a process of surrendering into relaxation, not one of forced stillness. You’ll need to get stuck in and spend time figuring this out.
- Sit comfortably with your spine upright.
- Progressively relax your body, releasing all muscle tension, and finding complete stillness.
- Slow down, smoothen and find serenity in your breath.
- Spend time extending the stillness into your eyes.
- [BONUS] Spend a few moments in this relaxed stillness to be grateful for life and all that it contains.
This entire process could take anywhere between 5 and 20 minutes. It can form a stillness meditation in and of itself, or it can be used as a relaxation exercise before other meditations. Each moment you spend in stillness is a moment spent strengthening conscious power over that of the flesh.