Thursday, July 26, 2012

Awareness, Relaxation, and Focus

Black Neck

What is relaxation ? Is it just always hanging out like a limp cat ? Does it make you feel fresh and energized?
Or wanting to take more rest?

People try to relax and enjoy by partying and indulging. Afterwards, they have to cope with hangovers, headaches, and feeling wasted.

Probably the reason why we do not enjoy our relaxation is that the mind is not resting. Only the body is resting. It is a bit strange that one needs to be aware of the mind's movements to really enjoy stillness and relaxation. It is called Awareness, and it does not require a physical effort.

Awareness

One cannot do away with awareness, in any moment of one's life. Awareness of our thoughts, actions, and words is necessary for sane and successful living. Awareness helps us see our mistakes and correct them. It saves us from being corrected by others. I am not saying it is bad to be corrected by others, but isn't it painful when we could have avoided the situation? For instance, to receive traffic tickets for careless driving habits is unnecessary.

Focusing

Focusing is collecting the habitually dissipated thoughts and bearing them all down on a specific object. The object of the focus can be anything. However, if one is focusing on sensations, one should take care not to be drawn off by the sensations aroused by focusing. Focus is essential for achieving success, whether spiritual or material.

The fun thing is that it is possible for anybody to fulfill his desires, using a focused mind. We can satisfy most, if not ALL of our desires if we have the concentration to focus all of our energies on them.

Relaxation

Generally relaxation is thought of as some kind of spacing out, letting go, whatever...being chilled out...hey what's the need to be so regimental and spartan...take it easy. But what actually happens when we space out, is that our thoughts and actions go awry, we do not know where we are going, and life goes by in a blur. We may not make the right choices. This is not real relaxation.

In relaxation, our body and mind are relaxed, but this does not mean a slackened state of incapability. In static relaxation, our body will be still, and muscle tension will be greatly reduced, making actions difficult. This happens in deep states of sitting meditation or special relaxation exercises like Shavasan or Corpse pose. However, to be relaxed in daily life means to be absent of unwanted tensions in the body and mind, while at the same time being poised to perform actions.

Relaxation is as important as Focus, because focusing without relaxing is dangerous. One can become strung out, obsessive, imbalanced, and out of touch with reality. Athletes and businessmen who pushed themselves to the extremes, have had to pay the price, often fatally. A state of relaxed focus is ideal. This is a matter of constant practice and contemplation. Observing the processes in Nature can help us to gain an understanding of this state. The Sun, the Moon, the Earth and other heavenly bodies are always working. The whole of Nature is in movement. But it is a graceful flow without hurry. Also, Nature has her own moments of repose, when everything is still.

For effective relaxation, one has to also maintain awareness along with it. In awareness, tension automatically dissolves.

Using a combination of Awareness, Relaxation, and Focus, we can objectively view each moment of our life,   take stock of our emotions, reflect on them, and choose not to react but to respond appropriately to life situations. Maintaining awareness can seem like a chore in the beginning. One need not cling to situations, but take them as they come by. That is, if you lose awareness of a moment, do not try to go back and catch it, just make use of the moments that keep coming. 

Step by step, taking appropriate actions, we can  reach our material goals and also enjoy the process.
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