All you have to do is relax…
“The technique is simple. Keep it simple. All you have to do is relax, everywhere – and then be aware of how you feel. Relax and feel. That’s it, in brief. Relax every physical and mental tension, temporarily let go of everything you don’t need and then simply pay attention and see what happens. “
Erich Schiffmann; Moving into Stillness.
Many of us find relaxation tricky. It is difficult being still with nothing but yourself in that space to tune into. We can become uncomfortable quite easily if we are left to our own devices. Whether it is our physical body saying “I’ve had enough of being still, I want to move …” or whether our mind whispers “what shall I make for dinner this evening …?” There is always something trying to take us away from stillness apart from when we crash out in our beds at night and we have this conditioning that allows us to finally switch off! Even then though we can take our concerns to bed with us and they may make their presence known to us in the middle of the night when we are least expecting them to arise.
So how is it possible for us to stay still for longer and be at ease in our bodies and minds? Often it’s useful for us to move first, to take some kind of physical movement based practice so that our bodies can use up some physical energy or agitation. It may also be useful for us to set the tone, dim the lights, light some candles and have blankets and cushions at the ready so that we can allow ourselves to be comfortable in our bodies within a pleasant environment. If you are lying down why not place some cushions underneath your knees and lift the head slightly.
Once you have provided yourself with the time and space to be still for a little while, try not to put too much pressure on how long this will be. A little bit of time exploring relaxation is better than none, but it may be worthwhile switching off your devices and not having any clocks near by to distract you.
As you finally allow yourself to lie down notice how the body makes contact with the ground, pay attention to areas of tension or discomfort and then see what you can do in order to bring about any more comfort – relax the shoulders away from the ears, turn your palms to face up, let your feet lower out to their sides etc …notice what happens as you make these little adjustments. Subtle adjustments such as this can make a big difference.
It takes time for us to have the ability to use less effort, so notice what happens as you do just that – use less effort and allow yourself to move closer towards the Earth as it supports you. Then you can start tuning in…
- How do I feel in my physical structure? What do I notice throughout my whole body?
- What are my energy levels like? Do I feel tired or energised?
- How is my breath ? Is there a rhythm? Pace? Flow? Can I feel the breath in my body? If so where?
- Are you aware of any particular feelings of emotions? If so, can you identify the nature of them?
- How did I feel when I woke up this morning? Were my spirits high or low? Reflect back to when you woke up *
* Practice ideas – Donna Farhi; Whole Body Weather Reading; Pathways to a centred body
Once you have spent a little time here allow yourself to remain with the natural flow of your breath – inhaling I feel my body rise, fill and become spacious. Exhale I let go and release towards the ground.
After a few rounds of breath reflect – consider your bodily and emotional response, be aware of how you feel as you breathe yourself back into the space.
When you have ended your relaxation notice what happens next:
Do you want to move or would you prefer to be still? Would sound be useful or would it feel more pleasant for you to remain in silence. Have an appreciation for what you may be feeling both physically and emotionally and let that inform what happens as you step back out into the world.
I have been asked to record some relaxations for you to follow at home and I have finally managed to sit down and spend some time editing a few for you to try. This relaxation was recorded live in one of my group classes and takes inspiration from Sandra Sabatini and Michal Havkin’s The Whole Body Breathing. Their practice offers beautifully descriptive relaxation and focusing techniques designed for us to question and encourage a curiosity between the breath and the body through imagination and intuition, moving you towards the more subtle rhythms of yoga.
You may find it easier to relax while being guided, so why not try this following relaxation in an attempt for you to undo tension and tune into your inner voice? Bear with me, sound editing is new to me and I am still learning about the best ways to do this! It is all one big learning curve – from being able to relax through to bringing together new ideas! 🙂
Always allow plenty of time to reflect upon your experience.
Enjoy, thank you!