In a previous article, The Necessity of Stillness, I discussed why it is relevant that we regularly take time away from channelling energy into our physical existence. Stepping out of this mechanistic experience is the first step toward liberating ourselves from a multitude of cycles of suffering, and also begins to make space for the non-physical parts of ourselves to develop. Seems fairly obvious actually, 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 eyes closed.
Begin by intentionally relaxing all of the muscles in your body. Starting in your legs; with each exhalation, feel the tension within your legs leave the body with each breath, and actively sense that release in the muscles. Move to your back, shoulders, neck and face and follow the same procedure. Repeat this at least once until you feel the deep relaxation throughout, finding almost no tension when you return your attention to any particular spot on 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 the breath of course. If you must move in any way, including to swallow any saliva thats gathered in the mouth, do it as slowly and smoothly as you can possibly manage. This stillness is to be maintained throughout the rest of your sitting.
Next you will bring calmness and serenity to your breath. Slow it down. Do not rush from breath to breath, 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 very 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, the natural breath, as deep as your body needs it to be. At first it is difficult to allow the breath to find its own depth when you focus on it, but with practice you be able to. Spend anywhere between 20 to 100 breaths calming the breathing.
Lastly, and most foreign, you will begin to bring stillness to the eyes, eventually ceasing all movements even here. At this point you should be feeling very calm, and you will figure out through your own insight how to extend the stillness into your eyes. Even though they are closed, their endless search for stimulation continues. Spend 2-5min intentionally bringing calm into this point of yourself. It really is a process of disconnecting from them, not forcing them still. You’ll need to get stuck in and spend time figuring this out.
- Sit comfortably and erect.
- 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.
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 the conscious will over that of the flesh.