Most people live the majority of their lives in a relatively focussed state of mind. Our world is hectic and the economy of productivity requires it. I was always a day dreamer as a kid but throughout my early adolescence, was tough to focus. In school it was expected that I pay attention in class and learn to think, listen and perform. Smart people were always the most successful I was told so learning to think and focus was imperative. It never really occurred to me that absent mindedness served a purpose.
Meditation is the art of not thinking and is a doorway to being able to work with your mind. Sometimes, your brain gets in the way. The Dalai Lama once said that sleep is the ultimate form of meditation. Interestingly enough, many people who require sedatives to sleep are often burdened with though making it ever harder to get some rest. They have built a habit over thinking everyday life and have become unable to quiet the chatter in their head. They have become addicts of thought. Many of us today are addicts of though and don’t even realize it.
Before you can think of quieting the chatter in your mind you first need to learn to relax physically. Some people are naturally more able to unwind and these people rarely need to exercise the ability (to be healthy), but for those who have trouble, relaxation exercises can be helpful. I am what many would refer to as lazy (gifted at relaxing) so this aspect of life has long been natural for me but I still practice relaxation techniques. These techniques can be particularly effective when practising lucid dreaming and astral projection because they may help the onset of sleep paralysis which can in turn allow for deeper mind relaxation. They also help you influence your mindset when you need to.
One technique that I have found to be particularly effective in relaxing my body is the systematic disengagement of body parts. I’ll explain step by step how you would do without this;
1. Get in a comfortable position that won’t put you to sleep (I like savasana or corps pose). Close your eyes
2. Observe your breathing momentarily the n start to breath from your stomach. Extend your inhale and match your exhale. Do this until your eyes stop shuttering.
3. Focus on your toes and imagine them winging, then actually wiggle them, refocus back on them. Then imagine your toes going to sleep then your feet. Let all tension out of your feet.
4. Move your attention toward your ankles and calves. Feel them with your mind then put them to sleep like you did your feet.
5. Work your way up your body systematically putting every individual part to sleep by imagining all tension disintegrating and vanishing away.
6. Imagine your fingers and feel the energy within them pulsing to and from your hands. Imagine the feel of touch on them and how movement feels within them. Gently wiggle your fingers. Imagine them brushing then release all the tension. Intentionally relax your fingers then hands.
7. Works way back up your arms until you reach the centre of your chest. Focus on your breath and listen to your breathing. Maintain the intentional deep even breath while you imagine your lungs filling with oxygen. Imagine them functioning perfectly and fully filling with air.
8. You can shallow your breathing now but remain balanced in your cycle. Keep the same exhale as inhale and move to your throat. Imagine an etheric hand gently massaging your throat and listen to the air passing through.
9. At this point your entire body should feel heavy and your can start working on your head. Imagine it getting heavier and heavier while you move on to the next exercise.
Not only is this an great exercise to begin your practice of meditation but it is an effective training to build mental stamina for other spiritual practices. This exercise should effectively be removing what could potentially distract you during your practice… Your body.