Relaxation meditation can be a very effective relaxation technique. And because it is probably one of the easiest meditation methods, it is a good way to learn how to meditate, a good meditation for beginners.
There are several reasons why this meditation is relatively easy to learn. First of all, it has a clear purpose and therefore it is easy to know if it actually works for you. If you feel more relaxed afterwards, then clearly the meditation has been effective.
Second, because it is relatively easy to learn this type of meditation, it is also more likely that you will indeed do it well and thereby experience its efficacy. Once you experience for yourself that this method of meditating is effective for you, you may feel more motivated to meditate regularly. In this way you establish a healthy meditation habit that can form the foundation for trying other, more advanced, meditation techniques.
Third, this meditation is very flexible: you can very easily adapt it to the particular situation or circumstances you find yourself in. For example, you may feel tense but not know why. You can then use this meditation to identify the likely cause of the tension, or you can feel into the actual tension itself to help alleviate it. You can even use this meditation to bring some relief to specific muscles in your body by focusing your attention on those muscles and how they feel. Or you can use it as a simple but effective and natural sleep aid.
From this example you may have noticed that I use the term 'relaxation' broadly, to refer both to physical relaxation and to mental relaxation. This is because relaxation mediation can help with both physical and mental relaxation and so learning how to use this meditation technique could be an important element in improving your general mental health.
As with most forms of meditation, this meditation is all about focusing awareness and allowing free and easy breathing. So it is essentially a mental technique and so by meditating regularly, you also build up a mental discipline that will serve you well in all other aspects of your life. But I am digressing. Let's get back to meditate!
Here is a general example that you could use to alleviate physical tension:
consult a qualified physician if you have a physical or mental
complaint; meditation will usually not interefere with medical
treatment, it may even enhance it; but please use meditation wisely and
not as a substitute for getting the best possible advise from qualified
health professionals. There is no shame in using both mainstream and
alternative approaches to health in maintaining or improving your own
body, mind and spirit!
Provided your conscious attention is not required (i.e. you're not in the middle of driving, cycling, or operating machinery and the like), make yourself comfortable, sitting, lying, or standing.
Take a deep breath in, filling you lungs with air (in case breathing itself it painful, please do this gently; go and see a doctor, you might have chest infection!). Exhale all the way. Then repeat: in, out, in out.
aware of the location in your body of the physical tension. It can help
to have a general knowledge of human anatomy, though this is by no
means essential. Try and feel the tension from within, without moving or
pressing or touching the location in your body. You may find it easier to do this with your eyes closed.
a genle focus of your attention on this area of you body. Try to feel
into the tension in a gentle way. It is as if you simply allow your
consciousness to 'hold' the tension and observe it.
Keep breathing gently. Keep 'feeling' into the tension with your awareness.
After a few minutes, stop focusing on the body and take three deep breaths again.
Become aware of where you are lying and the sounds around you. Open you eyes if you had them closed.
Gently return to your normal waking state. Drink a glass of water.
You may find it helpful to jot down a few lines in a notebook to say briefly how it went and how you feel now.
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Weekly artistic response to Rudolf Steiner's soul-calendar-52 with original German text, my translation and interpretation.
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Weekly artistic response to Rudolf Steiner's soul-calendar-50 with original German text, my translation and interpretation.