When you try to practice relaxation, or meditation, you may find right now that it is really very difficult, that there is a lot of agitation in your mind, or in your body. It may feel very hard indeed to become still.
I want to reassure you today that our bodies (and minds) crave relaxation and are predisposed to do so when the conditions are right and you leave it long enough for the magic to work.
The leaving it long enough part is really important. It’s a bit like baking a sponge cake – you can mix together all the delicious ingredients and whisk it all up so its light and fluffy, but then you must bake it – and anyone who has ever baked a sponge cake knows this golden rule:
You must never open the oven door before it’s ready!
The same is true with this practice of relaxation, which I why I urge you to commit to the full twenty minutes – it is so worth it. You may have to exercise some will power to stay put, to ‘just be’ with your agitation, with your frustration, with your sadness, but if you follow the recipe below and can stay put and hold all of that, it will almost certainly settle.
If the agitation is just too great then before you begin, go out for a brisk walk if you are able, or try the labyrinth doodle meditation.
Then, grab your cushions, get in your nest and start to mix your ingredients. Here are the five ingredients of a great restorative practice:
Create a feeling of safety by telling yourself ‘it’s ok’ to let go. Ideally go in a room where you won’t be disturbed and can close the door. Turn off your phone/emails. If necessary, tell your family/friends you are ‘busy’ on some important work/appointment. Having a clear time boundary can also help us feel ‘safe’ in a modern context. It’s just twenty minutes – use a timer, or listen to a guided relaxation.
Lie down in a position you find comfortable. I’m going to share more information about different relaxation positions over the next week, but what your instincts tell you is much more useful than anything I have to say anyway. Make yourself a nest for your daily relaxation retreat. When you are truly comfortable, you will be able to stay still for twenty minutes with ease.
If you can’t find a quiet place to relax, use earplugs or listen to a guided relaxation.
Light entering our eyes stimulates the nervous system. Ideally, dim your lights, turn them off altogether and/or cover your eyes with a scarf, towel or eye pillow.
Relaxation won’t work if you are cold – especially your feet – put some warm socks and cover up with a blanket.
‘Bake’ for twenty minutes – or more – here is where my analogy falls apart – unlike a cake that can bake for too long and get burnt or crispy, there are no contraindications to staying in relaxation – only benefits.
Happy Cooking Today