The art and skill of relaxation
- The art and skill of relaxation
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Relaxation is a skill unto itself.
Relaxation involves the body and mind, along with the interaction
between the two. There are many things one can do to relax, including
physical and social activities, entertainment, or specific methods of
relaxation and meditation, such as with music or guided imagery.
However, most of these are based on a strategy of diverting attention
away from the inner activity of the body and mind. This is true for
the external distractions and most of the inner visualizations that
might be mere fantasies. One becomes absorbed in the secondary
activity solely for the purpose of blocking awareness of other
thoughts, such as of the thoughts of today's actions and yesterday's
memories. This strategy of diverting attention is useful to some
extent, but it does not go far enough.
It is better to learn the art and skill of directly relaxing than to
merely distract the mind.
What is really needed is to train oneself in the skill, the art of
relaxing directly, without needing to create a distraction for the
mind. This is a tricky point to understand, since it is also a good
idea to focus the mind for relaxation. However, there is an underlying
skill itself, that of directly knowing how to relax, to let go of the
thought patterns in the mind, and in turn let go of the tension that
is being held in the body.
The key principle in learning to directly relax is in moving the
attention through different aspects of one's own being. This might be
attention on aspects of the physical body, the breath, or the mental
process. This principle is intertwined in the practical explanations