Often we’re not aware of our bodies unless someone or something redirects our attention.
We live in a pointed world. Often times its very easy to point at our selves in a cruel and harsh way. Our inner critic is often relentless in pointing out our faults to ourselves. Relaxation is one way that we can begin to soften and let go of the harsh cruelness of our inner critic.
Softening the cutting thoughts of our minds and soothing the critical nature of fears, loathing, remorse and even hatred and their conflicted nature is a deeper layer of the relaxation process.
The body is a good place to begin to work with relaxation because our thoughts and emotions arise from our being as manifest within our bodies.
Relaxation begins with reducing the stress in the body.
If you are facilitating a group relaxation process begin where you are. If you can accept parts of yourself that previously were unacceptable then work on accepting your parts with inclusion in mind and open your heart with love. This tacitly sets up the relaxation space with this same energy and invites the participants to accept themselves in this context. No force. Relaxation is a choice not a requirement.
Because we are not used to being soft with ourselves a gentle practice is one way to open ourselves up to this larger world and feel safe in it.
A Relaxation Practice (to be read aloud to oneself or to one or more others)
When we say notice our breath our automatic response is to take in a deep breath. If that helps us to begin to relax then do so. As we practice the art of noticing our breath goes into a natural rhythm without trying to control it.
See if you can find a place inside that is your center or core. This is a place that you can come back to any time during your day or night. Masters of Wisdom have often referred to this place as a sanctuary of safety and strength.
Beginning with your head, your scalp, forehead, muscles around your eyes, jaw, tongue, back of your neck where your spine meets your skull, let these areas release.
Let go… Breathe into each of these areas and breathe out the tension. Let your thinking become calmer and more gentle – softer…
Let the vertebrae in your spine unwind. Conscious yawning is a Tibetan Practice that allows bringing a lot of oxygen into the body and helps lubricate the spinal fluid.
Let go… Breathe the release… Try treating yourself with mercy and loving-kindness. Move your attention to your chest, to your lungs and heart and the other organs contained within your chest. Let these areas relax and let go… Let the gentle rise and fall of your chest bring loving and soothing energy to some of your more conflicting emotions.
– You don’t need to try to fix them at this time, just provide the soothing your love is capable of providing right now.
Breathe and let go.
Let yourself drop into a deeper level of peace and relaxation…
Guide your attention to your shoulders feeling the effects of gravity on your shoulders, on your upper arms and elbows letting ease of relaxation enter. Let your forearms, wrists, backs of your hands, palms, four fingers on each hand and your two thumbs relax and release…
Let any unwanted emotions and distress flow out of your heart down your arms and out your fingers like rain or showering, watching the water (a symbol of emotion) be washed away down the drain or into Earth…
Feel the release and the soothing peace that follows…
Direct your attention to your abdomen region and let the organs contained in this region relax. Thank your body for having carried yourself for so long. Grant yourself blessings to your body.
Let yourself be soothed by the gentle and natural power of your breath into a deeper level of relaxation…
Direct your attention to your hips and the organs contained within your hips and using your breath and the power of your being let these areas relax bringing soothing and peace into these areas of your body.
Let go with simple loving kindness.
Breathe in slowly and release. You can sigh out loud if you want as a way to continue to release tension, stress and frustration that you may be holding onto.
Gently move your attention to your legs, your thighs and upper legs and let yourself receive the suggestion to relax these areas of your body let your thighs and upper legs relax. Let your knees relax, allow your breath to move in and carry out stress and tension if any in your knees.
Breathe in new life and breathe out tension and tightness you may be holding onto in your legs and knees.
Gently and softly move your attention to your lower legs. Let your calves and shins relax, feel them relaxing as you go even deeper into relaxation.
Notice how much more you are relaxed right now.
Gently move you attention to you ankles and your feet. Let your ankles, upper feet, heels, arches of your feet, the ball of each foot and your five toes on each foot relax.
Attend to your breath. Watch the rise and the fall without trying to change or control your breath. Let your breath fall into a natural peaceful cycle gently allowing your mind to be aware of your breath as you breathe in… and out…
Take three long slow deep breaths and let three waves of relaxation spread out over and through your body.
Let your breathing go into its own cycle once again as you reflect on this relaxation practice with the gentle power of your mind.