Letting go meditation consists of releasing mental and physical tension with the aid of deep breathing to enter into a heightened, clear state of mindfulness and increased awareness . This practice teaches us the skill of 'softening into' difficult experiences such as anxiety, fear, stress, grief, anger etc reconditioning a different response, one of acceptance, thereby deconditioning habitual patterns of reaction.
Meditation is a process of letting go, not accumulating, it is not another skill or possession that we can add to our list. It’s just the opposite, meditation is about undoing the years of mental habits we have all accumulated, it is about teaching us how to let go, to bring us to a natural state of happiness and peace. If we approach meditation with the idea that we will gain something then we will be disappointed, because the very act of wanting to gain, even in our meditation practice, will turn our attention in the wrong direction and stop our meditation progressing.
Our attachment to our thinking, emotions and problems cause us not to experience peace in our life, this is because these attachments cloud our mind and colour our perception. In the same way that a storm will block out the brightness of the sun and the stillness of the sky, making the world appear dark, closed in and damp. In the same way negative thinking and emotions stop us from experiencing the radiant glow and stillness of a mind freed from them.
To experience the peace that comes from meditation we need to travel in the direction opposite to how we normally live our lives, we need to head towards simplicity, to give up instead of accumulating. This does not mean giving all our possessions away, our career or life, what it means is changing our relationship to these things, to one of non attachment, non clinging, non control, even if it means just holding this type of thinking during the period of the meditation.
Through entering the meditation practice with the intention to let go we will find that our meditation practice will naturally deepen. If we hear a sound we should just say “no thanks, not interested”, feel an itch, experience an emotion or a thought just say “no thanks, not interested”, treat any experience that happens, whether you perceive it as being good or bad, as none of your business, then non clinging will occur and your mind will move towards tranquillity naturally.
Imagine you were trying to cross a lake in a row boat, but you didn’t bother to untie the boat from its mooring. No matter how hard you rowed the boat you would not get anywhere, why? Because you are still tied to the shore you are trying to row away from. In the same way if you want to meditate to experience stillness and peace, but you continue to cling to your experience of the world, then no matter how hard you try you won’t progress because you are clinging onto the very thing that you are trying to leave.
The object of this meditation practice is letting go through the process of relaxation. We concentrate on the experience of our body sitting in a chair, on the floor or lying down, the sensations within. By breathing out and through conscious relaxation we let go of any tension we find in our body or mind. Do not place the experience of the tension or breathing anywhere, just hold general awareness of you body and continue to relax.
This practice is very powerful, it can overcome insomnia and stress, and also if you maintain the balance of energy and relaxation in this practice it can go very deep. It also creates the perfect conditions to enter into meditation on the breath and will allow concentration to be built more quickly. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity, this a solid and skilled meditation practice that can be developed on its own, with all the benefits of other concentration practices.
For this meditation lying down can work just as well as staying in a traditional meditation sitting posture. The reason for this is that our aim is very deep relaxation, the only thing you have to be careful of when lying down is falling asleep, and you do this by holding strong awareness of the feeling of your body. The effort from this will generate enough energy to keep you awake and if it doesn’t then it is not a loss, you will wake up feeling regenerated and refreshed.
This technique can be used as a method of falling asleep, especially if you have insomnia or are feeling stressed, if this is the case then practice it lying on your back in a bed, hands by your side. If you wish to lie down but not to fall asleep I have had great success with lying flat on my back on the floor, you do this with your arms slightly out from your side and legs slightly apart. The solidness of the floor will generally stop you from falling asleep but if you do then it isn’t really a bad thing.
Often you can wake up from this feeling like you have had the most relaxing sleep you have ever experienced. This is because as your mind quietens and your present moment awareness grows, all thinking and negative emotional states are temporarily suppressed, allowing you to experience pure sleep untainted by emotional charge and chatter.
Take a comfortable sitting posture that you can stay in without moving for the desired length of your meditation or lie on the floor or your bed on your back. Close your eyes and take a deep breath then breathe out letting all thoughts and tension drop away. Slowly scan from the top of your head to your feet and release any knots and tensions you come across by breathing into them.
Make a half smile on your face and then be aware of your whole body, of its heaviness and the sensations within. Every time you breathe out allow your body and mind to relax and grow heavier.
1. Focus on the feeling of your body, the tension within it and as you breathe out let that tension go, relax.
2. Next take a breath in then wherever you feel tension within let that relax as well as you breathe out.
3. Focus on nothing else except relaxing with every out breath; allow your body to become heavier, moment by moment.
4. Do not rush relaxing, forget about time, obligations and the world, this time is yours, enjoy it and let go. During this technique do not think but soundlessly watch, ignoring past and future or any external distractions.
5. Try not to imagine or place your body anywhere, ignore all distractions, you need to do one thing and one thing only, breath and relax, nothing else.
Once your whole body is relaxed start focussing on mentally relaxing, relaxing with each breath and practice letting go, allowing your body and mind to sink deeper and deeper.
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This article was written by Stephen Procter, instructor from Tai Chi Health for Life, Australian College of Tai Chi & Qi Gong and Meditation Instructor from Meditation in the Shire, Kirrawee NSW, Australia. If you wish to post this article on another website or in a publication please respect the author and reference / link back to this website, thank you