Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Relaxation

I tend to avoid using “relaxation” in my teaching of mindfulness. As I understand it, the goal of mindfulness practice is not to relax but to know our minds. Relaxation is a reliable by-product of the process but not the main goal.

For one, meditation practice is not always relaxing. When we practice, the stuff of our life can get stirred up–stuff we may not have looked at for a long time. This may not be relaxing at all. Once we’ve sat with it, a space may open up where relaxation is possible.

Advertisement

For another, relaxation is a loaded agenda. We wear ourselves out at work to “relax” on the weekends. And what does that consist of? Marketing, shopping, laundry, and catching up on all the things ignored during the frantic week. That does not sound very relaxing.

What does relaxation mean anyway? To relax is to unplug. Kick off your shoes, grab a beer and the remote control and lie down on the couch. It’s letting go of the concerns of the work day. There is a more profound sense of relaxation–letting go into this moment.

To relax is to feel safe as if nothing can touch you. Not because you are invulnerable but because you are cradled in this moment much like a baby feels safe resting agains the chest of her father. She relaxes in this moment without needing to add anything to it. We can be like that baby when we practice mindfulness.

Advertisement

We sat our monthly mini-retreat yesterday and we contemplated this sense of relaxation. I invited everyone, including myself, to relax into the practice–letting go into this moment and letting go of all preconditions, agendas, and preferences. Instead, we endeavored to wake up to what was present–whether comfortable or uncomfortable, pleasant or unpleasant.

To relax is to be awake. How do you know if you are relaxed? If a samurai walked into the Studio and was about to chop off our heads, we could receive that action with equanimity. The sumurai is a metaphor, of course. His sword cuts through ignorance, confusion, and delusion to help us wake up to the miracle of being alive right now. The sharp edge reminds us that being is not an entitlement but a privilege.

To relax is to shift out of our incessant rumination, talking, and doing to enjoy the moment as a sensate experience. It is to apprehend our life in this moment without adding a reassuring narrative–just being. Relax.

 

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rachel Grossman

    This is the best blog I have ever read and fits just what I needed to read in this present moment.

  • http://louellabryant.com Ellie

    Okay, I see that relaxing has its benefits, and thanks for this helpful direction. But I wonder if we ought also to celebrate the privilege of “being.” I mean, shouldn’t we dance once in a while? Have a gut-wrenching belly laugh? Hug each other? Share a meal, sing a song, twirl in a field under the summer sun? When the samurai storms in, I want to be immersed in joy!

Previous Posts

Handling Rejection
I was recently interviewed by Brianna Steinhilber of EverUp for a piece on dealing with rejection. You can read her very thoughtful story ...

posted 6:03:05pm Feb. 09, 2016 | read full post »

Accessibility and the Precious
I had an interesting dream image last night. I was observing a fantastic display of the aurora borealis--Northern lights (or it might have ...

posted 9:14:31am Jan. 31, 2016 | read full post »

2016 Well Underway: Resolutions, Intentions, and Projects
We are well into 2016 and I've been taking something of a hiatus from social media and this blog. I've been reflecting a lot on my life and resolutions, intentions, and projects for 2016 and beyond. I'm not a big fan of resolutions. Like ...

posted 2:33:29pm Jan. 24, 2016 | read full post »

2015: The Year in Review
Greetings everyone! It's been a busy 2015 and I'd like to share with you some of the highlights and give you links to the some of the contents I produced over this year. There is lot's more to come in 2016 and I appreciate everyone's support. I ...

posted 7:53:24am Dec. 21, 2015 | read full post »

Bodhi Day 2015
In honor of Bodhi Day, I wrote a reflection on the Seven Factors of Awakening, which are based on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. You can read about these on the main Beliefnet site. I hope this contemplation on awakening helps to move you ...

posted 9:41:04am Dec. 09, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.