Attention and Breathing are two key principles.

Attention and Breathing are two key principles

Two keys: If we explore within, with our attention, particularly in conjunction with breath awareness (which is the grossest aspect of the energy flowing throughout our body), the relaxation comes of its own accord. These two principles or practices, attention and breath, are the key features in the relaxation phase of Yoga Meditation.

The importance of attention and breathing in relaxation cannot be overstated. Again, the key principles for relaxation are:

  1. Attention to the various aspects of your being
  2. Breath awareness

These two work together naturally in allowing the relaxation of the physical body, as well as the mind.

It is extremely useful for a practitioner of Yoga Meditation to remember these two simple principles.

Give a restless mind something to do

If the mind is restless, it does not want to “relax”. The mind may want to open the eyes or move the body, which is the Manas (sensory-motor mind) wanting to express through the five Karmendriyas (elimination, procreation, motion, grasping, speaking).

There is no escaping the fact that
the mind must be trained. 

There may be a temptation to increase the external stimulus, such as having music a little louder, or to divert the mind with even stronger visualizations. However, these miss the point of needing to train the mind. The mind itself must eventually be trained; there is no escaping this fact. To train the mind means not relying on secondary means, but working directly with focusing the mind itself.

The way to train the mind when it is restless is to first acknowledge that, for this moment, the mind is simply not going to sit still. Therefore, we give it something to do, but something internal, not external.

Focus on what is there, not some new fantasy: Also, we focus on something which is already there, not creating yet another fantasy in the mind. This is part of the beauty of the various Yoga “relaxations” (such as below); they focus on what “is” within our own body and being.

When we have accepted that the mind is restless, and are giving it something to do internally, that is reality based, then the next question is the speed at which the mind is allowed to move.

Slowly or quickly surveying: If the mind is restless, and you tell it to sit still, it fights. But if you let in move at a comfortable pace, it will be happy. Moving your attention from one “part” to another (shoulder, arm, wrist, etc.) can be too slow for the restless mind. Speeding up the rate of surveying can have a comfortable effect on the mind.

Think of times that you and a friend were walking somewhere, when you wanted to walk at different speeds, one fast, and the other slow. It is the same principle with attention or “relaxation” exercises; find the proper rate to move the attention, which is a bit faster when the mind is restless.

So, with the restless mind:

  • Accept that it is restless.
  • Don’t just divert it; practice self-awareness and self-training.
  • Give the mind an internal travel plan of where to journey.
  • Speed up the rate at which attention moves through the points of focus.
  • Remember to breathe smoothly, quietly, with no jerks or pauses, and at a comfortable, somewhat slow rate.

Slower comes in time: When it is comfortable to do so, slow down the speed at which you are moving through the body. The mind will naturally become even calmer.