The Art of Super Relaxation
Most people today are tense – they are tense mentally first, and physically second.
A car whose engine is running burns energy even when standing still. So, many people – though they are sitting, lying down, or even sleeping – are actually tense as a result of, and according to the degree of, their mental restlessness. They burn energy even when their bodies are apparently ‘at rest’.
This fact can be verified through the increasing number of people who need medication to sleep. Anxiety and insomnia are both firmly on the rise – and whilst sleep medicines might give the satisfying illusion of deep, restful, sleep – the body’s intelligence cannot be easily fooled. Most people eventually suffer burnout if they mask their body’s warning signals with meds.
Continual tension is fatiguing, and most of us are ‘tense’ collapsing at the end of a long work day.
Relaxation, as part of the practice and process of the science of Raja Yoga, signifies conscious withdrawal of the life force (prana) and consciousness from the senses, as well as from the muscles, nerve centres, spine and brain of the physical body.
Without effective training in relaxation, even when you lie motionless your energy and consciousness are only partially or imperfectly withdrawn from the muscles and limbs, and your life force (prana) is still active in the various internal organs as well as the five senses (touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight).
According to Guruji Paramahansa Yogananda, there are six types of relaxation. These are not stages, simply assessments of the overall state of bodily and mental relaxation.
First type of relaxation: imperfect relaxation of the muscles (grosser physical body)
A person who has never meditated or done yoga will usually shift his or her limbs about (in effect tensing them) when asked to relax, and that person thinks that he or she is physically relaxed.
When you move your arm to relax it, and keep on moving it (i.e. fidgeting), you are not relaxing it (withdrawing energy) but actually tensing it (sending energy to it).
Second type of relaxation: conscious relaxation of the muscles (grosser physical body)
To achieve this, you must first gently tense the entire body, or a particular body part, and then consciously relax by withdrawing all energy from the body or body part, and remain relaxed without the slightest physical motion. In yoga, this is called ‘savasana’ or ‘dead body pose’ because dead bodies don’t move!
You can imagine that the body is jellylike, without bones or muscles, and when you can feel this, you will have attained perfect muscular relaxation.
We cover how to sequentially and scientifically tense and relax all of the major body parts in our videos on our e-learning membership site. (Sign up for a free 14 day trial).
Third Type of Relaxation: Sleep (passive or unconscious sensory-motor relaxation)
In ordinary sleep, the consciousness and life energy are involuntarily switches off from the muscles, the five senses, the motor nerves, and partially from the internal organs, particularly the heart, lungs and diaphragm. which typically slow down during sleep.
If you dream, then the tactual, visual, auditory, gustatory and optical faculties are subtly busy, even though their “wires” are switched off from the outer senses and muscles.
In deeper, dreamless sleep, the energy are consciousness are fully switched off from both the muscles and the senses, and even thoughts are banished, this produces greater relaxation.
Fourth Type of Relaxation: Conscious muscular and sensory-motor relaxation
You can learn to voluntarily withdraw energy and the mind’s usual activity from the senses and muscles whilst remaining conscious. This conscious sensory-motor relaxation is the initial interiorised state of meditation (pratyahara), and produces a wonderfully peaceful state of body and mind. However, it is not perfect rest as the internal organs remain busily at work.
Fifth Type of Relaxation: Unconscious ,muscular and sensory motor-organic relaxation (or death)
Death is unconscious, but perfect sensory motor organic relaxation. It represents a forced switching off of the consciousness and life energy from the entire body. Of course, we don’t really die, we just change form.
Sixth Type of Relaxation: Conscious sensory motor organic relaxation
This type of relaxation consists in the switching off and on, at will, the consciousness and life current in the body – the muscles, outer limbs, spine and inner organs including the lungs and heart.
This is super relaxation, a breathless state, where the entire motion of the body, internal and external, is brought to a complete stop – naturally. There is no forcing of the breathless state, it happens naturally of its own accord.
When the body’s cells are kept in motion by any kind of activity, whether by the muscles, or the involuntary organs, or the mind – they deteriorate due to ‘wear and tear’ and must be replaced by the body. Life and death are simultaneous events going on in the body all the time.
Perfect relaxation means the cells remain in a state of suspended animation, and they are sustained directly by the cosmic energy flowing into the body.
Man is tied to the body by both mind and energy
Remember that wherever mind and energy are engaged, there you will be tied.
You cannot successfully withdraw your thought from body consciousness unless you also simultaneously withdraw your energy. Energy, as well as thoughts, must be withdrawn from the body to attain higher states of consciousness.
Little knots of energy and consciousness in the body keep the mind tied to those parts of the body. Therefore you must relax to untie the knots.
Relaxation technique for physical relaxation and mental calm
First, familiarise yourself with the body divided into these twenty body parts**. The more familiar you become with them, the easier it will be to direct your mind and prana to healing any part of yourself that is weak, or sick.
- Left foot
- Right foot
- Left calf
- Right calf
- Left thigh
- Right thigh
- Left buttock
- Right buttock
- Lower abdomen
- Upper addomen
- Left forearm
- Right forearm
- Left upper arm
- Right upper arm
- Left chest
- Right chest
- Left side of the neck
- Right side of the neck
- Front of the neck
- Back of the neck
Next, find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed, and practice the following mindfully (i.e. with conscious awareness):
- Lie on your back (in a supine position), with arms and hands resting loosely at your sides, legs out straight and slightly apart. Use a blanket under the knees or lower back if you have any discomfort with this position.
- Exhale first
- With a double inhalation tense all twenty body parts** (see above but preferably refer to the video and handout on the e-learning platform, which is very in-depth.) Hold the breath and the vibrating tension for a count of three.
- Quickly relax, simultaneously exhaling the breath forcefully. Remain still, with the breath out for as long as that feels comfortable and feel the peace of complete relaxation. (The exhale and the comfortable retention of the out-breath (kumbaka) calms the activity of the lungs, diagraphm and heart).
- Repeat steps 3 & 4 twice to ensure removal of all bodily tension – i.e. you should feel like an inert mass, or a jellyfish!
- Remain still for five minutes or longer, simply enjoying the complete rest that comes with total relaxation.
- If your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the breath. If you get hooked by unwanted thoughts, repeat steps 2-6 again.
A simple test of complete physical relaxation is this: whilst you are sitting or lying down, and feeling completely relaxed, have a friend lift your hand or foot a little way and then drop it. If any muscle is unconsciously willed to become energised/tensed, you do not have perfect relaxation. If your hand or foot falls lifelessly, with a thud, then you are relaxed.
Practice whenever you are beset by unwanted emotions
Whenever you suffer from anger, fear, greed, jealousy, hate, fright or any other unwanted negative emotional state, practice this relaxation technique. If you cannot lie down, try it standing. If you are standing up, then of course some tension must remain in the muscles of your legs and back in order to remain upright but you will still get the desired results immediately.
By using this technique, you will find positive and instant relief from the internal and external physiological reactions produced by these negative psychological states.
When you have learned to still the body, your mind will also usually calm down, provided you do not disturb it with worries or fears or other disturbing thoughts. However, most of us today are caught up in cycles of stress and reactivity, and we are constantly feeding ourselves a diet of undigestible emotions. A cleaning of the energy system can greatly help, as the Spirit pours in and cleanses all of the cells of the body, including the entire ‘energy system’. Spirit also cleans the karmic-genetic patterns of the incarnated Soul which often weigh heavily on this life.
Mental relaxation consists in the ability to free the attention at will from nagging worries over past and present difficulties, and from the constant burden of responsibility. Mastery in mental relaxation comes with faithful practice and usually takes years – but good progress can be made in months if the student is earnest and sincere.
True mental relaxation is attained when one is able to rid the mind at will of all restless thoughts and fix the attention on the peace and contentment of the Spirit within, which is beyond duality.
Tips to Induce Mental Relaxation
- Let go of worries – a wise sage once said, ‘If you can fix it, why worry? If you can’t fix it, why worry?’ Of course, most of us worry when things don’t go right. Paying our bills, taking care of our health, looking after loved ones… but if you will simply get into the good habit of resting in absolute silence every morning and night (after the physical relaxation technique given above), you will train the mind to be less worrisome.
- Concentrate on the inner peace of your Spirit after physical relaxation; next, think of some happy incident and let your mind dwell on it, and visualise it. Mentally relive the pleasant experience over and over again until you have banished your worries totally!
- Practice going to sleep at will. Close the eyes, lie down on your back, relax the body and think of the drowsiness that you feel just before falling asleep. Use your imagination to do this, not a forced will. Try this until you have mastered it.
- Focus on a mantra or affirmation. Concentrate your mind on one feeling-thought, like “joy, joy, joy”.
- Focus on the “I am” consciousness – and say “I am calm” with conviction. Realise you are the King Soul, not a beggar.
- Remove disturbing psychological states by consciously removing their outer physiological manifestations. Anger will cause you to tense your body, clench your fists, grind your jaw or teeth, and will cause palpitations of the heart. Energy flows strongly to the arms and legs, making you want to punch and kick. If you pay close attention to your body and watch for such physiological reactions, you can choose to consciously relax your hands, straighten your body, breathe slowly and deeply, whilst concentrating on your true nature: inner calmness. It will also help to keep the breathe out, if possible as this will immediately stop the reactive cycle in which thought and emotion feed each other. There can be no movement of thought if the breath is still, and you are watching yourself intently (i.e. in a state of Presence).
Super relaxation is the ultimate stage of relaxation and is both physical and metaphysical. It is accomplished in deep meditation on the Spirit. You move your attention through the various levels of consciousness to finally achieve oneness with Cosmic Consciousness.
Want to learn more?
Whether you are a beginner to yoga and meditation, or you are an advanced yogi or meditator, if you wish to work directly with me, contact me here for mentorship. A first step is always to have Spirit clean your energy system.
You can also learn more directly from the Self-Realisation Fellowship.