Have a Great day…and night!
Relaxation. A term that can mean different things at different times and can vary widely between people. And sometimes the things we find relaxing today can just not be as effective tomorrow. Sometimes we get caught up in the latest trend, that magic that is hyped to work for everyone and we lose track of being an individual.
Finding a way to relax can be as simple as finding something that pleases us, that allows us to simply “be” for just a small amount of time. Meditation is a great outlet for internal anxiety. Before meditation can be effective, relaxation has to be achieved. And to find relaxation… that is something unique to each of us.
For me, finding a way to relax depends on just what I have been engaged in, with the things I have been doing, and on what I am looking at doing in the short term. If I have been listening to a lot of music, I’ll go for a completely different genre or style of music. If online research has been my focus, I tend to just go electronic free. I find a slow walk outside to be the best cure for “computer stress”, but when the weather is bad that is not possible. Although a walk in the rain or even the snow can bring peace.
Using the Mindful meditation technique of breathing requires some practice and unless you already practiced at it can be a bit frustrating. Just the opposite of what you need. Here is a guided path that can do 2 things for you. First, this will teach you the technique; secondly it can help with a focus point to assist you in clearing the mind.
In relaxation and meditation, we hear that clearing the mind and not having thoughts is the goal. And that goal is as close to impossible as anything I have ever tried to do. It is also extremely easy to do. Complex and simple at the same time. Thoughts will continue to intrude, to try to catch and hold your attention. You have to accept that and find the focus point you can return to when you cannot just allow thoughts to pass thru your mind without giving them any additional attention.
Mingyur Rinpoche best describes it as giving your mind something to do. While doing the breathing technique, when thoughts arise you simply focus on your breath. I tend to have thoughts and when I return focus to breathing, the inhale is my mental signal to let go thoughts and the exhale is letting those thoughts pass. Which are thoughts themselves and so I have to let those go as well. Almost a Catch-22 cycle but with practice and a lot of patience, very doable. When beginning this, 3 minutes can seem like forever.
Even better, the breathing technique can be done anywhere, anytime. Remember the advice you were given (and have probably passed along) “Easy, take some deep breaths and just relax.” With practice, you can have the skill set of one breath in and out and be able to keep to your center, your relaxed point. Impossible! You say, I know I did. Yet now I say it is not only possible but that you can also do the same.
I found that clearing the mind of thoughts and dismissing the ones that pop in to be the most difficult part of using the breathing exercise. I began using music, any and all that was available at the time, to give me something external to focus to that would not distract me from my primary goal, relaxation. And I quickly discovered that music without vocals worked best for me.
As a focus point for relaxation (and meditation) music can help with allowing thoughts to just pass thru our minds without interfering. And the possibilities are endless. I have used many genres of music, from psychedelic rock to classical, traditional meditation music all the way to Space music. Binaural beats, with or without background music, to natural sounds such as babbling brooks and birds singing. I do have my favorites, my preferred playlists that I seem to reach to when I have a more stress filled day than others (Native American flute) but the end goal is always the same. Finding what I think of as center, that great point of being able to just be.
As a result, I listen to a lot of music during my work day. Sometimes I just open one of the online services that are free, make a selection and let it be on auto-pilot. For the most part, once my activity and the music begin to flow together, I am able to stay relaxed and engaged with what I am doing. Usually the music fades and becomes a simple point I return to when I need to step back and regroup with my day. And sometimes I get lucky enough for a selection to gather my attention, to bring me back from whatever zone my mind has taken me, to just have the music take over and let me BE.
A “New” Discovery
Social media is a great place to connect and find, what is for me, new music. Not long ago, I received an e-mail from Sam Bardin about an article I have on Binaural Beats. He mentioned that he is a musician and I decided to check out his web-site and listen to his music. I am not a critic, not even musically inclined, but I do know what I like and can enjoy. Sam’s music is New Age/Electronic and is fantastic for relaxation and meditation. I had been listening to a lot of Space music and his music has a lot of the same floating, trance like elements.
Here is a selection from Sam, “Way of Peace” off of Dreamscapes, released on 2009-01-01. I know, amazing that I think of this as new when Sam released this in January of 2009! And his music has continued to develop and grow. You have to check out his “newer” music on his website and his book “The Path to Happiness and Wisdom” on Yoga.
Relaxation is different for us all. The different techniques that can be found thru the experts may or may not be useful to you unless you adapt them to meet your own personal style and gear them toward your own definition of relaxation. I have always used a mixture of the different types of meditation. No one way seemed to be quite what I was and still am looking for. Mindful meditation is about the closest I can use as a description.
The breathing technique works. It will take time and patience but it can become one of your foundation blocks to building a solid state of relaxation, which will carry you on a natural path of meditation.
And Music! There is a world of music just waiting for you and I to discover and sample. Enough that we can spend years, if we wish, and not listen to the same song twice. Sam Bardin alone has over 80 songs out! You have already made a start with some of his music today!
Do you have special music that you use for relaxation? Or are you like me and just go with the music that fits your day and suits your way to relax and meditate?
Let me know about your music, I am always looking for “new” music to go with my playlists!
Questions and comments are welcome here!
Walking the Path of Peace, Sanders