Yoga Nidra (Part 3) | What relaxation is not

Few people are aware of the real meaning of relaxation. This is obvious if we consider some of the methods that modern man adopts to remove tension. As examples, we can give television, radio, alcohol and tranquillizers. Are these effective in inducing relaxation. The answer is that they bring a limited respite from gross tensions while causing harm (and thereby further tensions) in other ways.

It may be pleasant to finish a hard day’s work by turning on the television, but it does not bring deep relaxation. The mind is bombarded with images which tend to bring more inner chaos. Actually television does bring some relaxation by providing escapism – or, perhaps, if the programs are sufficiently boring, by lulling the viewer off to sleep. The same can be said of the radio: the continual blitz by music in the car, in the park or at home provides some escapism and a little alleviation of tensions, but it does not bring deep relaxation. The same can be said of alcohol and tranquillizers.

It is deeper perception of one’s inner being that leads to deep and lasting relaxation. The above methods do not bring this; in fact, they lead in the opposite direction: to communal distraction and addiction to the world of external phenomena. They have their use and place in life’s play, but they do not bring meaning and real relaxation into life.

Many people say that they are relaxed most of the time. For some this may be true, but scientific tests conclusively show that most individuals are constantly tense, though they are not aware of it. This can be confirmed by observation. Vast numbers of people habitually bite their nails, scratch their heads, stroke their chins, tightly grasp their pens and so forth. Others may chain-smoke cigarettes, talk compulsively about nothing, move about restlessly and display constant irritability. Many of these actions are done unconsciously, but they all indicate chronic tension. We may think that we are happy and relaxed but an honest appraisal of all our actions will not usually confirm this belief.

Relaxation seems so easy: you simply lie in a comfortable position, close the eyes and go to sleep; or perhaps have a smoke or a drink, go to the movies, read a novel, switch on the television, take a few sleeping pills, or even take a holiday. These methods have their place; without them many people would explode with accumulated chronic tension. But they only bring temporary relief from tension. In this scientific age most people are not able to find a method of inducing real relaxation. Relaxation is a subject that everyone talks about, but few know its meaning.

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