“It is necessary for the student to first learn how to relax his physical body. It is indispensable to know how to relax the body to achieve the perfect concentration of the Mind.” ~ Introduction to Gnosis, Samael Aun Weor
Relaxation is the key for the first step of meditation. This relates to posture, but the important factor is relaxation. A separate post will give useful options for meditation postures.
We want to remove any distraction of the body during our meditation practice. This is done by having a fully relaxed body that can maintain a comfortable position for the proposed period of meditation.
We often think we are relaxed when we take our meditation position, but residual tension is usually present in the body from former mental and emotional activity. Our bones, muscles and tendons may be regularly out of alignment due to ongoing stress or illness. Negative emotions such as anxiety or anger can cause us to tense our abdomen or the muscles our face. This muscular tension may be fairly persistent if we repeat these emotions on a day-to-day basis. The stress also has effects on our digestive organs, endocrine system (glands and hormones) and nervous system (brain/body connection).
Therefore, when we sit down to meditate, we need to make a conscious decision to relax. We need to apply tools to become aware of tension and to facilitate relaxation to a core level. It’s not uncommon for people who begin to achieve deeper levels of relaxation in the body to experience evidence of the body adjusting. This could include popping or cracking of the back or neck, or the sinuses draining. These are good signs that old tension is being released.
Muscle Inventory – A good way to start is to do a systematic inventory of our body. We slowly move our attention from one end of our body to the other, perhaps start at our toes and move to the top of the head. We seek out areas of tension and when we find one, we use the exhalation of our breath to imagine the tension leaving this part of our body. We can imagine with each breath, breathing in energy and oxygen and breathing out fatigue, stress and tension. This practice can be as long or short as we want, 1 minute or 15 minutes, slowly moving the attention from one part of the body to another.
“Relax the physical body totally, from the tip of your feet to the crown of your head. With the eyes of the imagination, try to see, one by one, the bones, muscles, nerves, arteries, cells, atoms, etc.” ~ Mayan Mysteries, Samael Aun Weor
Visualisation – Another method for relaxing is to add a visualisation to our practice. We can imagine ourselves as an empty vessel, like a vase, with an opening at the top of our head. We imagine a golden light being poured through that top opening, filling our body from the bottom up, like liquid in a container. We imagine the golden liquid light is a perfect temperature and fills us with warmth and lightness as it rises up through our body. These positive concepts in our brain have an associated effect on our physiological system, contributing to relaxation.
Below is another practice that takes advantage of imagery from folklore, representative of the intelligent principles behind the four elements of nature. In this case the elemental creatures of the earth, known in some traditions as dwarves and pygmies.
“Imagine that your feet are subtle, that a group of dwarves escape from them. Imagine that your calves are full of small playful dwarves that leave one by one and that as they leave, the muscles become flexible and elastic.
Continue with your knees performing the same exercise.
Continue with the thighs, sexual organs, abdomen, heart, throat, face and head muscles successively, imagining that those small dwarves flee from each of those parts of the body, leaving the muscles completely relaxed.” ~ Introduction to Gnosis, Samael Aun Weor