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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Learn how to relax or let go/release physical, mental and emotional tension

Relaxation of the body and the mind comes before the attempt of developing the skill, strength and flexibility to perform the yoga exercises or yoga poses.

The physical, mental and emotional tension existing in the body and mind are mainly due to ungratified desires of coming in contact with the objects of name and form that the mind doesn't like/doesn't want and not coming in contact with the objects of name and form that the mind likes/wants, as well as accumulated from an imbalanced lifestyle of either overly inactive/sedentary/idle or overly active/busy/restless way of life.

If one doesn't know how to relax or let go all these accumulated tension while attempting to perform the yoga asana exercises or poses with the intention or expectation to be developing the physical strength and flexibility and the skill to do the poses, or to receive specific benefits from performing the different yoga exercises, it's not going to work efficiently.

When there are unnecessary tension existing in the body and the mind while doing the yoga asana practice:-
  • The entire learning process of the mind and the body as well as the overall effect of the physical and mental practice/training will be less efficient.
  • The mind is unable to focus which will be affecting the learning process while inattentiveness/cloudiness will lead to higher risk of unnecessary accident and injury.
  • The muscles/tendons/ligaments/joints/nerves/vital organs that are in a state of tension is affecting the general development of physical health, fitness, strength and flexibility, and will increase the risk of injury, as well as influencing the mind being unable to be open towards the teachings or the philosophy of yoga that might be different from or contradicted to the existing thinking and belief in the mind.
  • The tensed body can't really absorb the effect of the practice/training efficiently/properly/entirely even though the effect of the practice/training is present during and/or after the practice/training.
  • Tensed mind and body is deeply related to higher risk of physical and mental illness as well as broken relationships, destructive behavior and social problems, not excluding 'yoga enthusiast'.
  • The tensed mind cannot function/think/act and react properly/healthily, and easily gets confused/disturbed/annoyed/irritated/intimidated by all kinds of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses from moment to moment, and eventually losing the basic sanity to reason and act properly, or being unable to look after the well-being of oneself, or to live life independently, not excluding 'yoga practitioner' and 'yoga teacher'.

That's why the initial relaxation of the body and mind in the beginning of the yoga asana practice, is very important/crucial, even before the physical warming-up exercises, to allow the body to be able to develop the skill, strength and flexibility efficiently and safely in a relaxed manner, as well as allowing the tension-free body to be absorbing the effect of the practice/training to the maximum, but more importantly, is allowing the mind to be able to be relaxed/open, to inquire the truth of the teachings or the philosophy of yoga that are not necessarily something likable or agreeable to the mind that has been conditioned to think in certain ways and to believe in certain beliefs that are different from the teachings or the philosophy of yoga.

Relaxation of the body and mind should be the very first practice/learning/training for people who want to learn and practice yoga even before learning to do the basic yoga poses or the guided breathing exercises. Such like, simple abdominal breathing of slowing down the inhalation and exhalation in a relaxed manner without strain for a few minutes, and then moving the awareness from point to point in the physical body to be aware of any existing tension and let go the tension consciously, and bringing the mind into the present moment to be aware of the reality as it is, without craving or aversion. Without rushing into the yoga asana practice routine, and without any expectation, the tension existing in the mind and body will become less intense, and eventually dissolved/vanished, naturally.

The yoga asana practice of doing the yoga exercises or yoga poses are supposed to be helping the practitioner to relax the body and mind, or helping the body and mind to let go or release as much as possible all the unnecessary tensions that has been building up in everyday life, provided if the yoga asana practice is being done under a relaxed manner without strain/force, and with the correct understanding of the core teachings of yoga. It shouldn't be building up more unnecessary tension into the body and mind during the yoga asana practice due to being unable to be relaxed physically and mentally while doing the practice by constantly straining or forcing the body to go beyond its imitation with the egoistic desire/intention/expectation to make it more strong and flexible in order to do some of the yoga poses that the mind wants to be able to do, due to lack of correct understanding towards the core teachings of yoga.

The proper way of developing physical strength is not about building up more tightness/tension in the muscles groups of the physical body. Real strength comes from free-flow of sufficient energy supply and efficient/healthy function of the motor neurons and bio mechanism. If one of the nerves that connect the central nervous system to one of the muscles group doesn't function properly, this part of the muscles group couldn't function properly, even though the physical body has gone through certain intense and prolong strength training, and the muscles groups are well-toned. A well-toned or tight/tensed muscles group cannot move or lift something, if there's no proper sufficient energy supply to that area. A super strong and flexible person also couldn't get up from the bed, when the body contracts certain virus or disease.

More importantly, the yoga practice is not about training/making the body more strong and flexible, as peace and compassion, and the ability to forgive and let go what the mind perceives/recognizes as 'negative', 'bad', 'wrong', 'hurtful, 'sorrowful' or 'terrible', is nothing to do with the physical condition/strength/flexibility. One doesn't need to be physically 'strong' and 'flexible' or super healthy, to realize yoga, peace and compassion, or be forgiving and be able to let go.

While applying the teachings or the philosophy of yoga practically in everyday life will help the practitioner to stop generating or accumulating unnecessary physical, mental and emotional tension. This is what yoga practice is about - Purification of the mind through the elimination of egoism.

This is similar to the final relaxation in the end of the yoga asana practice. It's not just about to relax the body and mind after some physical and mental training, but it's about non-attachment and non-identification towards all our actions/practice and renounce the fruit of action/practice, or letting go the expectation towards the fruit of action/practice. This will bring the body and mind into effective deep relaxation under any challenging condition or undesirable situation in life. Relaxation is indeed the elimination of egoism through the practice of non-attachment, non-identification, non-judgment, non-expectation, non-craving, non-aversion, and letting go. The body and mind is unable to be relaxed and constantly being in a state of tension is due to the egoism of attachment, identification, judgment, expectation, craving and aversion, and being unable/reluctant to let go or forgive.

People might confuse 'the practice of relaxation or the ability to let go/be relaxed/calmed' with the practice/idea/belief of positive thinking or optimism. Positive thinking or optimism doesn't necessarily mean that the mind is relaxed/calmed or being free from the desire of craving and aversion, and be undisturbed/undetermined by what the impure mind perceives as 'negative', 'bad', 'wrong', 'hurtful', 'sorrowful', 'disgusting' or 'terrible'. Positive thinking or optimism doesn't correlate with the understanding/ability to accept the reality that is not necessarily the way that we like it to be, as it is, but more likely, it's about ignoring or denying the 'negative' undesirable reality that the mind doesn't like and doesn't want, and desiring/hoping to change the undesirable reality into something else that it is not, and expecting desires/wishes come true by trying to think and feel positively or optimistically. The mind is not free yet.

The practice of accepting the reality as it is, peace, compassion, forgiving and letting go, doesn’t mean that one is agreeing with, allowing and encouraging other people for their ignorant behavior that inflict onto oneself and others either intentionally or unintentionally. One doesn’t need to stand there to endure other people’s ignorance and the by-products of ignorance. Just as when a stone is heading towards oneself, one can try to move away from being hit the stone. One also doesn't join in a group of people who behave ignorantly as well as also behaving like them.

Staying away from people who are under the influence of ignorance, to stop encouraging ignorant thinking and behavior, is compassion towards oneself and others. Trying very hard to please everyone all the time in order to be accepted, acknowledged, loved and praised by everyone might be the similar values and practice of many different cultures in the world, but it's not yoga practice. In fact, freeing the mind from such ignorant egoistic worldly social cultural thinking and belief, values and practice, is the yoga practice.

Unfortunately, many minds are being deeply conditioned by such egoistic thinking and belief, values and practice since very young, and hence, it's incomprehensible for many minds towards the teaching of "One doesn't need to please anyone in order to be accepted, to be acknowledged, to be loved, to be praised by everyone, in order to feel good and meaningful about oneself." These minds are being told that it's wrong and selfish if one doesn't think and behave in such way complying to the values and practice of "Good people will try to please one another in order to be accepted, acknowledged, loved and praised by one another. Good people will keep quiet and cover up each other's ignorant behavior as a form of loving kindness and empathy towards one another for maintaining peace and harmony among everyone. Don't be truthful, as truth hurts. Say only nice things in front of people, while it's okay to say all kinds of bad things behind of people."

Such social cultural thinking and belief, values and practice are nothing but empowering the egoism of attachment, identification and craving in the minds.

Everyone is free to think, believe and behave the way that they want to think, believe and behave, and there's nothing wrong to think, believe and behave according to certain social cultural thinking and belief, values and practice, just that, it's not yoga practice to be empowering egoism, but to be eliminating egoism from the mind.

Be free.

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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

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