During January and February, we did a practical and spiritual journey through some mediation and relaxation exercises. Relaxation and mediation are great for a person’s body, mind, and soul. Today’s society is all about go, go, go, and what did I accomplish today, and how can I get ahead financially or do better than the Joneses. These techniques can help combat the damage done by the stresses we all face daily and can help us communicate with the Deity we personally believe in (if we believe in one).
The first part of any successful meditation session is to relax. Most of us only relax as we start to fall asleep, so as you learn to relax without sleeping and practice that skill, do not be surprised if you feel relaxed then only remember waking up.
A quick way to relax is to lie down on the floor or in your bed and tighten all the muscles in your body, hold for several seconds, then let go of the tension. This is done muscle group by muscle group, starting with the toes and continuing up through the calves, thighs, glutes, stomach, lower back, chest, upper back, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and finally the face.
Now that you’re relaxed, the goal of mediation is to have a blank mind. This does not necessarily mean that all thoughts are gone, but that you are aware of any thoughts going on and just let them be. Many of the Eastern religions believe that at these moments, when your mind is so still, that God (or one of the Gods) can commune with you, but even if you do not believe in God(s), the relaxation and meditation exercises can be good for you, just by reducing stress.
Training your mind to enter into this flat or empty space, depending on how you see it, can be difficult to do. Our brains are so used to being active that slowing it down is sometimes near impossible. One way to help slow it down is to start by concentrating on a candle. A candle is a stationary object so not much brain power is needed to concentrate on it, but the flame moves a bit, making it easier to start with than a block of wood. As it becomes easier to see only the candle and not lose concentration, graduate yourself to smaller and even less interesting items, until you do not need an item at all.
Learning to relax and meditate is a process and usually a long one, since many of these concepts go against what we were taught as Americans: doing nothing is bad; we are supposed to be constantly entertained. So, remember to give yourself time and a lot of patience. Your brain needs time to adjust to its new expectations.