When hearing the word “relax”, it is common to think of a relaxed body. But truly relaxing means relaxing the mind. This is because nothing happens in us unless it happens first in the mind. You can test this. If I asked you to move your right pointer finger, does the finger move without you thinking it? Try it. Your mind commands and then the finger moves. Right? Except for random muscle spasms, the mind is the controller of all of the movements, relaxation and tension in our musculature.
So the goal in relaxing is to relax the mind. A relaxed mind is calm and energized. You might equate relaxation with being sleepy. But this is a misunderstanding which arises because many, or perhaps most, of us carry around a great amount of sleep deprivation, and are nearly sleep walking through our lives. Normally, we don’t notice this sleepiness because it’s masked by the stimulants, frenetic activity, and chronic muscle tension that have become the norm in our lives. So when we relax, we become aware of the sleepiness that’s been there all along. But that sleepiness is not relaxation, it’s simply being unmasked by the relaxation.
This unmasking is a good thing, because once we notice the sleepiness, we can get some well needed rest before our bodies fall sick.
Rather than sleepy, a relaxed mind is acutely aware and energized.
At this point, it’s essential to understand what is meant by the term “mind.” Mind is the brain, isn’t it? Not for this discussion. The definition of mind used here is from the timeless meditative science of Yoga, which defines mind as a field of energy.
Many times, I heard the great Himalayan yogi, Swami Rama, say “All of the body is in the mind but all of the mind is not in the body.” He was saying that the body is an energy field in which the body exists. This mind, this energy field, controls the body and is much more than the body, much more than the physical brain.
Conceiving of the mind as an energy field enables us to realize that such a field can have more or less energy: The field can be strong or weak. As you know from experience, you can vary the power going to a lamp with a rheostat and make the light brighter or dimmer. If there is little power going to a lamp, the light is dim. As the power is turned up, the light gets brighter. So it is with the mind.
When the energy field of the mind is strong, when the mind is relaxed, that mind shines bright, and when the mind-energy field is weak, that mind is dim. A strong, calm, relaxed mind is a vast treasure. Most of us spend tremendous time and energy collecting resources, such as information, degrees, techniques, skills and much more, to advance our lives and businesses, yet few cultivate the greatest of all resources available to us, a resource that is our birthright: A relaxed mind. With a relaxed mind, collecting all those other things is much easier.
Take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of a relaxed mind:
The first advantage of a relaxed mind is what you’ll have less of: As your mind relaxes and grows in strength, you’ll have less mental confusion, will make fewer mistakes, and your mind won’t be jumping all over like a jumping bean. In addition, you’ll have less fear, anxiety, and irritation.
Will you really miss those things?
You’ll also receive gains: You’ll have clearer understanding, a greater sense of well-being, more insight, will feel more loving and enjoy your moments more. A more relaxed mind can better understand the subtleties of things, and so you’ll access more intelligence and be able to make better decisions. You’ll also have greater access to the amazing resources that are part of our innate equipment although we rarely experience them because of agitation in our minds: A relaxed mind is more creative, more intuitive, has better memory recall, is more patient, and can better focus and concentrate it’s energy.
So, as you can see, there is a lot to gain by having a relaxed mind.
Truly, there are not any disadvantages.
Would you like to cultivate a more relaxed mind? If so, note the words “cultivate” and “more” in the previous sentence. They were used intentionally. Having a relaxed mind is not something that you do in one step, like opening or shutting your eyes, it is a process. If you start climbing a mountain, after a few steps you’ll have a broader view of the valleys below, and you won’t yet experience the ultimate view at the top. Getting to the top takes time and work. Similarly, cultivating a relaxed mind is a process that passes through many stages, and each gain in mental calm from where you began yields definite benefits.
In the next post on this blog, I’ll suggest a simple three level process to begin cultivating a relaxed mind. If you’d like to get started before then, it would be very helpful if, over the next couple of weeks, you paid some attention to your own mind, and observe how often it’s calm and relaxed or agitated and frenzied, and how you feel in each of those conditions. Having this baseline information will help you in moving forward.
I’d love to hear about your discoveries in comments.