What do you get when you try to force yourself to relax? Well, the opposite of relaxation. I’ve practiced meditation consistently for two-plus years now because I thought I needed to relax (and I definitely did). So I started out just sitting there trying to reduce my habitual thinking – to not think - but the harder I tried the more I thought and the tighter I got. I tried some guided meditations but mostly I was just lost in the guide’s words.
Read on to learn how to start the process of letting go and get more information on how to access my recent webinar on pain that crushed last week!
I was the “hurry up and relax” guy trying to force my mind to chill out. If you aren’t like that, I am happy for you, but unfortunately I think many of us have not been programmed that way.
So as I continued meditating I grew frustrated and kind of gave up trying to ‘not think’. I just stopped forcing it and sat there with my thoughts. Not trying making them go away or change them into something else just acknowledging them.
And that’s when I noticed this initially subtle experience of having more space – an expansion of time between thoughts and more space between a stimulus and my automatic response. An openness. Like a cat on a windowsill – alert but not edgy.
When I ‘let go’ that’s when I actually got the most out of it. And the relaxation? It took care of itself. I gave my nervous system some space to let it find a new path and re-organize. Of course, this is a lifelong practice so do not misconstrue me as the second coming of Thich Nhat Hanh.
So what am I saying here?
You can’t just force things.
Because our body systems are non-linear, we don’t have an “if I meditate for 15 minutes I will be x times more relaxed” response. We are dynamic and organize ourselves around constraints, or barriers. A narrow river with lots of rocks is going to move very differently than one that is wide with a muddy bank.
If you give yourself, a system, not enough room to play with - a “do it only this way” mindset – you will not create space for new experiences and behaviors to emerge.
Practice letting go:
Lay on your back with your legs supported and tune into your breathing pattern without trying to change it. Practice each exhale as a mini "let go". Letting go of physical tension, future concerns, and past fixations.
Each breath is a chance to create space and allow new behaviors to emerge. Do this for 10 minutes in a quiet room without external distraction.
The only thing a ‘hurry up and relax’ mindset will get you is more of the same.
Just let go.
“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”
Did you miss my live webinar last week on Understanding & Healing Pain?
We had an excellent turnout: talked pain, perceptions, and the nature of changing one's reality (yep I went there). There were many excellent questions as well...which you can hear my answers to in the on-demand recording of the webinar!
Get full access to the 90+ minute live course that you can watch whenevs, all the materials, and earn continuing education credits (if that's your thing). All for less than $40 and on your own time.