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Relaxation in Meditation
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Relaxation in Meditation
An Italian friend told us a joke about two Carabinieri (a sort of national police force who are the brunt of a lot of “dumb” jokes.) They got the “not too bright” reputation because, when Mussolini created this group, he was afraid they might rebel so he drew them from various dialects. Therefore, they couldn’t communicate with each other. Go figure! Anyway, two Carabinieri were riding in a car and the driver, not sure the turn signals were working, asked the passenger to roll down his window and check. The second one stuck his head out the window and reported, “Now they are, now they aren’t, now they are, now they aren’t…”
Sometimes my ability to concentrate during meditation feels a little like that – now I am, now I’m not, now I am… Here are a few things I’ve found that can help. First, I can’t concentrate unless I relax. Physical tensions are little knots of life-force distributed throughout the body and unavailable for focused attention. So the first solution is to relax all the voluntary muscles. Go through the body from the feet to the head consciously releasing all tension.
Next we need to relax all the mental energy committed to worrying or thinking about projects. I’ve found that if I determinedly let these little problems go, when I sit to meditate they will wait for me to finish.
Finally, I can’t relax very well unless I focus my attention on something. Paramhansa Yogananda said people watching a movie are like good yogis, deeply concentrated. If the mind doesn’t have a focal point it just stays restless like those Carabinieri’s lights. The trick is to focus on something that internalizes the life force. Two good techniques are to watch the breath or look into the light at the spiritual eye between the eyebrows. This, according to great masters, is where we will find enlightenment.
Relaxation and concentration are linked together, so if we want to meditate, we need to start by relaxing physically and mentally. We’ll also find a lot more joy that way.
Share your tips on relaxation and concentration in the comments below.