relaxation & meditation

Nowadays, we experience such a hectic pace of life, that we tend to live in a constant state of stress. Stress to be on time for our appointments, to reach our deadlines for study and work, to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, and to live up to the expectations of society and those around us. Because this state of chronic stress seems to have been accepted as ‘normal’, we usually haven’t been paying attention to how we truly are doing, how we feel inside ourselves. And some of us have forgotten about how we feel inside ourselves for so long, that we don’t even remember how to reconnect with ourselves.

Our lives are not only fast-paced but also very full. We constantly seem to be caught up in doing and have forgotten the art of simply being. We don’t know how to be in the nothingness. The active, ‘getting things done’ life-approach is in essence masculine energy. And the counter-balance to that, the feminine energy that is more receptive, playful, free from goals, and in total surrender doesn’t play an equal part in our daily reality. Several methods can assist us in re-establishing inner balance, by promoting relaxation on deep levels in our body and our being.

A popular way to find inner peace is by practicing yoga. It is an ancient Indian tradition, but in Western society, the main focus is on the asanas: different body poses that include stretches and balancing practices. The ancient philosophy behind it is that by using our willpower to stay in different postures for extended amounts of time, we essentially practice transcending (the temptations of) our mind. A key aspect of this art is our breath. We are invited to take long and deep breaths while holding a pose and to relax deeper into our body on every exhale. Part of the yoga tradition, called pranayama, teaches specific breathing techniques that help regulate our life-force energy in our system. Yoga and pranayama are powerful practices to reconnect with our bodies, and they are an effective preparation for sinking deep into ourselves during meditation practices. 

In many Eastern cultures, receiving regular massage therapy is very common. But in most Western cultures, we tend to see massage as a treatment for physical injury or as a luxury treatment. The benefit of massage therapy in the process of learning to relax deeper into our body is highly underestimated. While receiving the nurturing and healing touch from the massage therapist, our senses are activated and they help us to focus on the body sensations, rather than on our stressful thoughts. At the same time, our blood circulation improves, toxins are released, and life-force energy is activated and flows through the whole body. This releases the blocked energy so that tensed areas can relax. After a thorough massage treatment, we feel rejuvenated, deeply relaxed, and more in touch with our bodies.

Our minds have become junkies that are addicted to entertaining a thought, any thought, constantly. As soon as we are done thinking a specific thought, the next one has appeared, seemingly out of the blue. This habit of constant thinking is causing our minds to be less effective, less creative, and more scattered, distracted, and exhausted. When we gain control over our thinking processes, our mind becomes our most powerful tool. But in order to control our mind, instead of the mind controlling us, we need to practice meditation. We often associate meditation with simply sitting in silence and magically thinking ‘nothing’. But there is a variety of meditation styles that can guide even the most restless people to deeper relaxation.