Sep 3

Relaxation is now accepted as a legitimate approach to improving health and is a vital tool in building mental fitness. It is routine therapy recommended by professions dealing with physical and psychological stress.

Many of us suffer minor symptoms of stress caused by every day happenings as well as our internal world of thought, worries and emotion. In addition, those suffering pain have to learn to deal with additional and sometimes constant discomfort.

We can deal with stress that causes symptoms such as hayfever, muscular tension, or headaches by taking medications or by appropriate exercises and cottage remedies. But serious conditions such as panic attacks, migraine and some states of anxiety and depression cause us to call for medical assistance.

However, it is possible that any symptom of physical or psychological stress, pain or strain can be relieved by the practice of relaxation. There are several approaches and techniques but the simple basis of them all is to release all muscular tension, establish easy rhythmic breathing and then focus attention in turn upon the body, sensory awareness, and emotional feelings.

This is practised best lying flat on your back on the floor, arms by your sides. The alternative position is to sit upright in a chair. The eyes are gently closed. A quiet few minutes of private time is all you need.

Even severe symptoms can be relieved temporarily and there are many cases where
this simple practice has provided a cure. The reason is that once we allow the opportunity for a return to a natural passive state, all our layers of effort and stress are cast off. Mind and body become friends again.

It is a great help to be taught in classes first, so that you can repeat the directives in your self-help exercise at home. And it works. Try it!

 

 

 

Jun 20

In English we use exactly the same word to denote ‘feeling’ meaning sensory physical touch and experience and for ‘Feeling’ meaning emotional mood and experience.

It is essential to be aware of this in order to properly identification the sensory or the emotional connotation in use of the word. This is further complicated by the fact that sensory feeling can be accompanied by an emotion feeling!

In regard to the following comments the constant reference throughout is to the emotions.

What are the basic emotions of a human being?  Contentment, happiness or joy, suffering or pain, sympathy, kindness, anger, envy, jealousy, compassion, irritation, fear, faith, anxiety, hatred, love, yearning, desire, pride and so on.

In each person these ingredients are developed and exercised differently to create a different and unique recipe of an individual emotional character.  The composite ingredients make up the pattern of the individual essentially our own and which separates us from other emotional bodies of other people around us. Yet the basic emotions and responses are common to us all.

We may have blended our emotions into a character with a harmonious result, giving us a stable and positively polarized personality or possibly we could have thrown our unresolved and tended feelings carelessly aside to result in chaotic and even violent emotional make-up.

Untrained emotions are usually a hotch potch of feelings resulting from life experiences of all kinds without having had any sorting or cleansing to eliminate the negative, that regrettably often predominates.  This continues until we grow discomforted to be always in anger, depression, fear or other unpleasant emotional states and we use our will to alter our reactions to life. This exercise in self culture requires great patience and persistence but is essential for a happy life and smooth relationships.

If we should choose to consciously feed on violence and ugliness, on horror and degraded emotions we develop an emotional body accordingly and will in turn seek to express these violent emotions.  In the same way if we choose to nourish our feelings on beauty, and refinement in music and studies, then gentler emotions and idealism will be nurtured.

It is a matter of choice.

Human beings learn slowly. I. It is easier to say “I was born that way” than to affirm that it is one’s laziness which determines that negative emotions and moods endure. Deny it we may, but the fact remains that each of us can and must be responsible for our emotional control and each of us can and must learn to change for the better the pattern we inherited at our birth.

Emotions of all types comprise our emotional sheath of the personality. Although our emotions are invisible they are very real to us. They need to be nourished and this comes naturally through our enjoyments and the many entertainments that fascinate us. The most important being affection from others and the opportunity to exchange our feelings and communicate them.

One of the most popular ways of emotional enjoyment is through music. But this as nourishment applies only to that music which is melodic, tuneful, clear and uplifting.  There could be nothing more destructive to our emotions than the primitive loud discords and drum beats, the screaming and the inanity of modern rock noise. Scientists have confirmed that these loud discords and depressed subjects harm brain and body.

When we are emotionally in need we naturally turn to soothing music, company of a friend, creative hobby, or go for a walk in nature so that we have the opportunity to re-group our emotional feelings and feel whole again. Some of us have friends who will lift our spirits magically and restore a positive mood but if they are preoccupied, there is no better and constant friend than nature itself or its agents of water, sunshine, gardens and fresh air.

May 11

The following accounts present just a few examples of different people’s experiences in relaxation practice …

A young student says….

“Yes I like relaxing. But I’m not always in the mood for it. The best times seem to be after I’ve had a really busy day or had a game of football.  Then it is usually good. But anytime I can make myself feel cooler or warmer as I want to by using my breathing exercises. I like to lie down and do nothing as it is pretty peaceful.”

……………..

“I lay down to relax hoping to see just how far I could go. First I let all the muscles in my body relax and feel loose and free. When I was sure that there was no more residual tension left in my body I started to concentrate upon my breathing – taking deep but rhythmical breaths. After this was established I tried to make my mind relax but I couldn’t. Then when I stopped trying to slow my brain down, it did actually slow down.

My body then became very light except in the joints, that still felt heavy. Then to my surprise I began to feel smaller and smaller until I felt about 1 cm square!

After this I felt I was being expanded, blown up like a balloon and became very rounded. This feeling lasted for a while and was pleasant enough. Then I began to feel normal again but it was the most fantastic sensation I have ever felt and although I have tried again, I haven’t been able to accomplish quite the same again.  But each time I relax I feel something different and it is always good.”  A student.

…………

“I prepared in the classical manner – lying flat on the floor in a north/south aspect.

As soon as I shut my eyes I began to feel aware of the physical sensations of my body and had to make a slight muscular adjustment here and there, in order to be totally comfortable.

Then I began the tension/release technique, thinking of each part of my body in turn, starting with my feet and deliberately tensing my muscles to feel what that felt like, and releasing strain to be conscious of what relaxation was like. Part by part I did this throughout my whole body. By the time I reached my head and tensed my eyes and relaxed them I was happy just to lie still and become aware of the pleasant feeling that pervaded my whole body.

After a minute or two I commenced rhythmic breathing but soon tired and wanted to be still. As soon as I did I felt my body become light and I seemed to lose the sense of my body. It was lovely.  I just seemed to float and I enjoyed it.

I have no idea how long this lasted but I didn’t actually go to sleep although when I thought of moving it was just like awakening in the morning. I was pleased to stay where I was but knew I had to get going again. The pleasant feeling stayed with me for several hours. ”

A student

 …………..

“I’d been having a bad time with relationship problems and was feeling pretty confused and lost.  I felt I had to do something to get over this mood yet everything I tried didn’t work. So eventually I thought as a last resort to do nothing at all.

I lay down and shut my eyes but as it was still daytime it felt strange at first. Then I decided to keep very still and not move a muscle, just to see if I could do that. But the thing that prevented me was the process of breathing . Somehow instead of being disappointed, I began to get interested in deliberately breathing deeper and deeper. I’d never done that before, but at least it kept my mind off my problems.

This must have gone on for some minutes until I felt tired of doing this and thought I’d lie still again, which I did. I felt strangely light with a sensation of floating that was very pleasant and had to allow myself to indulge in this new experience that reminded me of something similar I’d known as a child on going to sleep.

But I didn’t sleep. I just lay there feeling light and free and floating and my inside feelings were just that nothing mattered very much. Everything felt right. Somehow I knew my problems were not very great and would soon dissolve and I would feel happy again.

I really enjoyed this time of being still and now I practise it whenever I feel the need. It certainly worked for me the first time and most times afterwards.”

 A student

……….

“I find relaxation practice a reliable and exciting time. It is not a discipline, as it was at first but has become enjoyable and refreshing. Each time it seems to produce different experiences and I can never relate these to anything.  They just seem to happen.

Always I begin in the way I was taught in class to lie flat, without a pillow and wait for my body to be comfortable on the floor.  My eyes are shut and I begin to be more aware of the sensations I have in my body. I am not moving at all except of course with respiration. I feel energy sensations in my feet and hands and eventually all over the body.

This particular time I felt the energy centred in my upper body and head and became aware of a beautiful coloured deep blue light, although my eyes were still closed. I felt as if I was being pulled upward and lost all sense of my muscles. I didn’t feel conscious of a shape, I just felt I was a being.

With the wonderful upliftment came a feeling of protection. It was as if I should never feel alone again. There would always be this lovely presence to care for me. I didn’t see anyone but felt there perhaps was someone beyond the blue light. The light became soft and gradually less, just like an electric dimmer.

Then my attention returned to think of my body and it felt soft and relaxed and my breathing gentle and I remembered this special feeling of being protected and stored it away to remind myself in the future.”  A student

………………..

“After all the preliminaries of exercise, some breathing techniques, muscular commands and so on I entered the first stage of relaxation which felt very pleasant except for a little discomfort on the hard floor.

Then I was ready to involve my imagination and persuade my body to feel ‘heavier and heavier’ as my teacher said would encourage total physical relaxation.

So I began to affirm to myself, “I am feeling heavier and heavier”. I confess I was a little cynical about any result and was amazed when I began to feel leaden and extremely heavy. But because the sensation was pleasant, I did not resist it. After a little while I was ready for the sequel exercise. This is to help emotional relaxation by imagining any hardness and heaviness melting to become soft and fluid. I did this pretty easily and found it quite delightful. I felt beautiful in fact. I felt nothing would every worry me again if I could retain this feeling. Although I can’t always succeed, but I remember to practise this feeling of melting when I feel stressed and up tight. It helps.”

A student

 …………

May 11

Many people today seem to depend upon their consultations with a personal psycho-analyst in order to help clear the mental and emotional energies that tend to accumulate when we have no time to attend to sorting our problems out for ourselves.

Those who make time to practise simple relaxation techniques, or employ the fine yogic technique of Yoga Nidra find that these measures are satisfactory in reducing stress.

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Mar 9

We will all know the soothing effect of wandering around our own garden, tending or watering.  It tends to put us in a natural meditative mood of appreciation of plant life in general and perhaps allows us a little sense of pride in the results of our personal horticultural efforts.

All meditative states of consciousness commence with a stimulus or focus. If we have a material focus such as a beautiful flower we will be inclined to expand our thoughts and emotions and also elevate them as we look at the intricate handiwork of nature and drink in its beauty.

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Oct 16

Memory is a complex faculty relating to recall of information stored in the subconscious mind, available through normal consciousness or even events accessed from the deeper strata of the psyche or soul. The faculty assists us in deliberate learning and training of the intellect as is does in a more instinctual manner from experiences already learned. These habits apply in the learning of basic physical control as in walking and movement, as well as more sophisticated examples such as speech.

There are degrees of learning and many ways of storing past information. Apart from the usual techniques used in classical educational practices when we learn through familiarity with exercise and practice, we respond to events and life circumstances spontaneously as if reacting to unconscious causes and an unremembered past.

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May 14

The causes of personal stress are simple enough if we face the factors in our lives that cause us discontent, anxiety or any unhappiness that we are experiencing. It may be questionable whether or not we can change the external factors altogether, but we can try to make changes. We can certainly direct and control our personal reactions so as to maintain our mental fitness and self confidence.

In the meantime, as we are working towards alternative situations, how do we free ourselves from negative reactions and symptoms of stress that cause us so much concern and often embarrassment. How do we alter our defensive reactions to life and to people? How do we cease to care what others think about us? What will change our anger when we feel offended or our impatience when we’re in a hurry?  Perhaps our attitude is an important factor.

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Mar 20

Repeated habits can demonstrate to others our levels of stress.

There are many personal common behavioural habits that we have such as hand gestures, foot tapping, and other obvious and often irritating ways. We are more often than not, unaware of these displays of unease. But in social life and in business in particular, these signs tell another person what is our subconscious state of mind and so is keen to observe and to interpret this information according to the situation.

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Dec 4

The person who has satisfactorily applied his skills and intelligence to the art of living is surely the most successful person of all. Someone who has developed mental fitness and achieved a relaxed and confident mental attitude to life in all its avenues is likely to have found some of the secrets of a healthy, simple stress-free lifestyle.

Material success in regard to career, wealth and financial affluence is certainly a part of our modern culture. Although it is the type of success most accented in our materialistic world, it is also most likely to cause major stress in our lives. This is surely not the success we are seeking.  Most of us would rate the deeper issues of emotional and spiritual satisfaction as important. And after all, our real success is experienced only by our degree of happiness.

The value of what we are doing must always be tested by whether we feel inwardly successful and at ease and whether success has brought us lasting joy. We can judge our lack of success as a society by the number of stressed, depressed and unhappy people around us today.

It the material ambitions and desire for success motivates us to require the artificial stimulus of drugs or alcohol sometimes a desperate need to escape the life we have created, then something is wrong. Holidays are an accepted part of modern lifestyle. But if we are not happy to also get back to work and enjoy the opportunities we have for creativity, we need consider whether we are deluding ourselves in thinking that the personal sacrifices we have made are worthwhile. Read the rest of this entry »

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