Meditation and relaxation. They go together like a hand and a glove. Even people who hardly know what meditating is associate it with relaxation. In fact, it is often mistaken for simple relaxation. Getting my body completely relaxed while still holding a steady posture was one of the first things I learned about how to meditate. As I continued to study meditation and yogic principles, I learned more and more techniques and began to take the importance of relaxation for granted. I just sort of felt like because I "learned" that part already that my body would sort of automatically become completely relaxed because I was meditating.
When I've been teaching others how to meditate, I explain the importance of relaxation in meditation and always guide them through a relaxation to get them completely relaxed. However, this still wasn't really driving the point home to me in my personal practice that I need to check in with myself throughout my practice to release tension which can creep in during meditation.
It wasn't until I joined an online satsang, or gathering to discuss higher truths, with the Ananda Virtual Community a few weeks ago that I started paying more attention to relaxation in my personal practice. The satsang was actually mostly aimed at individuals who were taking a "how to meditate" course, but other members of the virtual community were welcome to come. I always love to go to the virtual community satsangs when I can, as they are so often full of insipiration. It was the first satsang for the students of that course, and the monk leading the satsang was reinforcing the importance of relaxation. It all sounded so familiar because I have heard it many times before, but for some reason at that time it really sunk in that this is a continuing practice. I realized that I had not been assuring I was staying completely relaxed throughout my meditation, and as I started tuning into that while meditating I noticed I had places where over time I was tensing up which needed to be further relaxed.
I have found it to be helpful to aim to feel open to try to stay relaxed. If I notice tension, I try to induce relaxation by bringing openness throughout the body or directly to the part which is holding the tension. I also try to remember this when I am concentrating at the point between the eyebrows. It is easy to create tension when we use a lot of willpower to stay concentrated, so I try to remind myself to stay open. Try this yourself and see if you notice a difference!
Relaxation is important because in meditation we are dealing with energy. As we go deeper in our meditation, the energy in our body withdraws into the spine. By concentrating at the spiritual eye we draw that withdrawn energy up the spine into the front of the brain, inducing a meditative state. If we are tense in any point of our body that energy will not be able to flow freely past that point of tension and will be blocked. Blocked energy can be the cause of many problems, including pain, discomfort, and dis-ease/disease. And of course, we are dealing with our body's energy all day, every day, not just in meditation. That energy needs to run freely through our body to keep us healthy on all fronts outside of meditation, so staying open and not holding tension is important all the time, too.
There does come a point in each meditation where you do need to let go and "drop" the body, not keep checking in with it. Being relaxed helps to accomplish that, but if you keep continuing to check in throughout the entirety of your practice searching for tension you will not get to the point where you can go beyond the body. But it has helped me to stop taking for granted that my body will just be completely relaxed because I'm meditating, and instead make the point to check that my body is relaxed and open so I can meditate easier.
I am an Ananda® certified meditation teacher. I am passionate about meditation and embrace a yogic lifestyle for greater wellness physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
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