When the spiritual disciplines are named, I never see relaxation among the list. But, it should be. The closest we come to the idea of relaxation is contentment, but they are slightly different. Contentment is a state of mind which can be created by relaxing, taking it easy, and by letting life unfold on its own. Relaxing is a prerequisite to a time of contentment and meditation.
Until I started the practice of yoga, I didn’t realize how tense I was. I struggled with the yoga positions until eventually I could do the full routine, and then I discovered the beauty of the practice when we got to the end. Most of my yoga practice is performed with the use of an instructional DVD, and near the end she instructs the follower to lie prostrate on the floor facing the sky with arms and legs slightly spread and to the side like a gingerbread man.
Then we are encouraged to relax, one part of the body at a time, beginning with the feet and working our way to the head. When she instructs us to relax our chin, our eyes, and our temples, I realize how tight I am. Deep natural breaths, and the gentle prompting to relax and let go, create a state of calm serenity in which we can center ourselves.
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