CONNECTICUT CENTER FOR HEALTH
Naturopathic Medicine Clinic
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Relaxation Through Meditation
What to expect once you have made relaxation/meditation a habit.
- You have a connection between your mind and body that helps you let go physically, relax your muscles and quiet your mind.
- You are able to let go mentally, redirect negative thoughts to pleasant or more productive thoughts and have a neutral mind (being present to your surroundings) more often.
- You have learned to notice your thoughts and change your mind’s focus if you choose. You can manage and direct your thoughts to focus on something more productive or pleasant.
- You are able to recognize your emotions and deal with them more effectively.
- You experience a greater amount of mental peace and relaxation moment to moment.
Posture – Different postures affect how the energy flows through the body and how alert the mind is in meditation. I recommend that you lie down to enhance the letting go of tension and achieve complete relaxation.
How Long to Meditate – Usually 15-30 minutes is a good meditation time, although if you are new to meditation, you may want to start with 5 or 10 and build up. If you meditate regularly, it can be helpful to meditate about the same number of minutes each time.
When to meditate – Although you can meditate at any time, the ideal times are usually in the morning as a start to your day, or in the late afternoon in order to unwind from the activity of the day and be refreshed for the evening.
Meditations which are deeply relaxing are best done on an empty stomach or at least a couple of hours after a meal.
How often to meditate – Once daily is recommended. Twice a day if you can. A regular routine of meditation is invaluable. The benefit derived from meditation starts to carry over into our activity more when we meditate regularly. Many find twice a day to be ideal, but certainly even once a day can make a big difference.
Focus in meditation – Your breath, the black in front of your closed eyes, a word such as relax, down, or another of your choosing, body scan from feet to head relaxing each body part, repeat body scan by imagining a wave of relaxation dropping from each body part.
Thoughts in meditation – Thoughts arise spontaneously in the mind. They are a natural part of meditation. The goal of meditation is to become more at ease, relaxed and at peace with whatever is happening. Therefore, it is important to not resist anything that comes in meditation, including thoughts. Simply notice that thoughts are present and let them go the way they come — effortlessly. When you find that the awareness has been caught up in a train of thought, easily come back to the focus of your meditation.
Relaxation Through Meditation Page #2
Our experience of thoughts may change as we meditate. As we disengage the gears of the mind, the mind has an opportunity to settle down. Sometimes you may experience a kind of dream-like state, somewhere between being asleep and awake. This also is a natural experience in meditation. There may also be times when there is a state of “no thought”. No matter what happens just take it easy — take it as it comes!
Noise – It’s enjoyable to meditate in a quiet place, but it is not always possible. The key is to not resist noise. Don’t try to ignore the noise or to block it out. Simply let it be and continue with your meditation. Everything is a part of meditation — the noise, your thoughts about it, the way the mind may start to resist it, the emotions that arise about it. Treat everything that arises in meditation the same way — let it be, let yourself be!
Falling asleep in meditation
Hopefully in meditation we enter a state of “non-resistance”. This would include not resisting sleep if it comes. The goal of meditation to establish a state of ease. Therefore, if sleep comes, let it come.
When we enter into a state of relaxation in meditation, strong emotions can sometimes arise. This can happen for several reasons. When the mind settles down in meditation, we may become aware of an emotion that has been “under the surface” while we are busy in activity and focused on other things. It may also be that the deep relaxation of meditation causes a kind of “unwinding” or purification, so that any emotion that has been held in the body is released. The meditative state can be much like the dream state in which various issues are being processed.
If we are uncomfortable with a particular emotion, such as grief, the tendency may be to want to push it out. Emotions are a flow of life energy, and if we resist that flow, the energy becomes “stuck”. If you notice resistance to emotions, let the resistance go. Allow the emotion to be experienced fully and the energy of the emotion can flow and resolve.
On the other hand, when a strong emotion arises, the mind may become very busy interpreting it or dramatizing it with a story about it. If anger arises, for example, the mind might pick up on something that happened in the past, or imagine something happening now as the cause of the anger. This involvement of the mind in the emotion intensifies and feeds it, and also obstructs it from moving through easily. When we become aware of being caught up in a train of thought or a story, let that go and bring the awareness easily back to the focus of the meditation. (The focus will depend on the meditation you are doing.)
If the emotion or thought is so strong that you cannot easily come back to your focus (such as the focus on the breath), then simply allow the mind to feel the emotion. Let the awareness locate a physical sensation in the body that is associated with the strong emotion (or thought). Simply continue to feel that sensation in the body. With the awareness easily on the sensation, it will eventually dissolve and the mind will be free to continue with the focus of the meditation.
It’s important to take time to come out of meditation slowly. Remain with your eyes closed for a minute or two. Stretch, move around a bit, and gradually become more active and get up.