One of the most difficult things for any of us to do is to relax. Our musculature is in a constant state of tension. This sustained tension leads to nearly endless unwanted results. It leads to fatigue, exhaustion, stiffness, and pain; it leads to headaches, insomnia, and stomachaches; it makes us clumsy, uncoordinated, accident prone and unattractive; it prevents us from recognizing important signals that our body may be giving us in the form of subtle sensations. Tension prevents us from taking in sufficient oxygen and from expelling carbon dioxide; it cuts us off from physical sensations of pleasure, and may even precipitate impotence and frigidity; it separates us from our emotions, dulls our thinking, weakens our will, and makes us unresponsive to the needs and existence of those around us; it blocks the free circulation of nerve energy, blood, and ch’i; it causes our bodies to deteriorate and age more quickly; and it leaves us helplessly unreceptive to our own higher thoughts, higher emotions, or any divine force. To feel something deeply, to express oneself clearly, to understand anything completely – all of this requires a relaxed body.
A good habit for starting each day, and every meditation, is mentally to go through the different sections of the body, sensing all the different tensions, and then gently, slowly, and deliberately, relaxing them one at a time. (Don’t try to relax before you have quietly noticed where you are tense! You can’t correct a problem you don’t know you have.) When you have relaxed your entire body, notice your breathing. Let your breathing be slow and steady into your belly, let your exhalations be complete, and allow for a slight pause before inhaling. But don’t force this on your body. This is the normal instinctive pattern of breathing that a relaxed body will rediscover. Let it.
To help you do this, many meditation teachers recommend that you record your own Guided Meditation. This certainly can be a good idea. But most people prefer to simply listen to guided meditations that have been recorded for them – in our fast-paced world, it’s simply the most practical method.
I want to recommend a site that has 5 Guided Meditations that you can download and play immediately. You can find them here: