Many persons feel relaxed after a visit to the racecourse, or after a long session of bridge, of course, with stakes or after a session of chanting and kirtan. Why is it so? When gambling, you put all of your mind to work on the game. You have thus diverted your mind from your day-to-day worries. A good session of kirtan will make you feel the same. If you participate in a kirtan with a rhythmic, melodious voice and with faith, you will feel relaxed. You will feel as if your mind and body are sinking in Bhakti Rasa (nectar of devotion) and you will come out of it rejuvenated. You will be invigorated and the mind will be cool calm and tranquil.
The system of concentration and meditation practised by the yogis of India may well be the answer to complaints that the medical science has not been able to help. A sensitive machine called biofeedback has been invented not long back to help people to learn relaxation. It interprets and translates into a screen the state of relaxation of the body. As we relax the sound waves becomes milder indicating that we are heading in the right direction. This helps us to become acquainted with the ways of relaxation. Later when we have mastered the technique, we can discard the machine and carry on with the relaxation exercise.
There was a time when. British doctors in colonial India sent reports around that yoga masters would perform amazing feats like stopping heart beats, and walking on burning embers with no apparent injury. The reason was that the yogis had obtained extraordinary control over their bodies especially the autonomic nervous system which operates without conscious control. All the involuntary movement like that of the heart and the peristaltic movement of intestine are controlled by it.
My hands are warm
In 1910, the German hypnotist Johann Schultz found that when he taught patients self-hypnosis by talking themselves into a relaxed state, he had surprising results. For instance, when they repeated the phrase "my hands are warm," their hands did in fact grow warmer.
In 1964 American doctors also confirmed Schultz’s experiment wiring up volunteer housewives to an instrument which monitored skin temperature. The wives were then asked to relax and feel that their hands were getting warmer. The instrument registered increased heat in their hands.
A doctor recently has been experimenting on this same principle and helping patients of tension headaches and peptic ulcers by asking them to concentrate on their hands and feel them getting warmer. This technique takes time to be learnt. When it is mastered at the time of tension headaches or pain in the abdomen the patient can concentrate on the palms, and get relief in their headache or abdomen pain. This occurs as the blood rushes to the palm, and as a result the head or the abdomen get rid of the excessive blood.
An experiment was conducted with asthmatics. They are generally sensitive to such irritants as dust pollens and fumes, but a lot of their trouble stems from nervous tension. An asthmatic patient is treated in a soundproof room and wired to Biofeedback machine. If he is relaxed, he only hears a slow clicking. He is then told to visualise dust, flowers or whatever possibly causes asthmatic attacks. Usually he grows tense at the very thought of these items. The machine clicks faster. The patient is aware that he is on the verge of a full scale attack. All caused by tension. When he learn that tension is his enemy he can learn to control it by listening to the clicks and trying to slow them down. Biofeedback helps to master the technique of self-relaxation. Later the patient can dispense with the machine altogether. By then he would have learnt to relax and by his own efforts be able to lead a fuller and happier life.
Relaxed with Sex
Many men and women claim that they are relaxed after sex, physically and mentally. They sleep better after the sex act. Women who work and live together with men folk get their menstrual cycle synchronised.
The male scent plays a role in maintaining the health of women, particularly the female reproductive system. There is definitely a link between regular sex and the well being of women’s reproductive system. This has been revealed in a series of studies. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has found that women who have sex with men at least once a week are likely to have normal menstrual cycles and milder menopause than celibate women or women who have sex rarely or sporadically.
In two studies, researchers collected underarm secretions from seven men and women to test the effect of sexual aromas known as pheromones. A "soup" of aromatic essences was taken from underarm pads worn by volunteers for 18 to 27 hours a week over three months period. The male’s essence mixed with alcohol was applied to the upper lips of six women with abnormal menstrual cycles and no current sexual relationship. The cycle of three women speeded up or slowed down to an average towards 29.5 days. The irregular cycle of six women in the control group, dabbed with only pure alcohol remained same. In a second group, ten women who received male essence showed a significant trend towards synchronised menstrual period after only a few cycles. A control group showed no such change.
But there was a definite awareness that men and women in each other’s company seemed to feel more relaxed and their intimate relationship kept them healthier. An architect friend stresses the fact that design and even the colour of the home have an effect on the mind. Houses can be designed in a way that the resident feels mentally peaceful. There is also a theory that haunted houses are nothing but badly designed houses which have a horrible, ghastly effect on the mind.
According to study, Children growing up in flats in skyscrapers have more mental problems. Playing and running on the ground soil, living nearer to the earth as it were, has a beneficial psychological effect. Live in a bungalow if you can afford it, but a hut will be equally relaxing. Let your children be in constant contact with mother earth.
People living in a combined family seem to be emotionally more stable. Children growing in their grandparents laps get mutual affection and time. Thus the individuals get more support in moment of an emotional crisis.
Because of the last war, the British have suffered a lot in terms of parental love and a family life. According to the findings of a nationwide opinion poll commissioned by the "Sunday Express" to determine the style most favoured by Britons in 1986, today they crave for traditional family life with parental supervision and family get together.
The result of this poll came as a massive backlash to the type of permissive society seemed to have evolved with marriage considered outdated. Free love and taking drugs were fashionable. The Wheel has now turned. The Britons today are against a world of permissiveness, or single parent families and quick divorces. The traditional family has won a massive vote of confidence with special emphasis on the need for children to be brought up by both parents. This poll was conducted among 1500 adults aged 15 plus.
In India, we are better off. The combined Family is still a tradition with us and permissiveness a few steps away. How long we will be safe is yet to be ascertained as foreign habits, ways, customs and style of living are flowing faster this side of the world.
Meditation techniques vary but essentially they are all the same because their final objective it to helps to develop and exploit inner awareness. In a way, through meditation, you begin becoming more aware of your body and the outside world. Concentration increases. You are able to think better in whatever type of work you do. You become more efficient, your body healthier. Many experiments on transcendental meditation have been done which have been described "the science of creative intelligence".
Meditation should be done in a calm, comfortable environment Focus your mind on mantras or breath. Transcendental meditation is helped by a mantra, a word or sound or command from your instructor. The technique is simple, faster to learn and gives coolness to mind and gets you into a state of deep relaxation. Vippassana meditation does not take help of any mantra. It takes the help of breath. This is supposed to be oldest form and was used by Lord Budha to attain Nirvana. It is more valuable in curing diseases, apart from giving physical and mental relaxation. It cleanses the body like fasting or dieting.
Meditation has been highly recommended by the famous heart surgeon, Christian Barnard who did perform the world’s first ever heart transplant in 1967 at the University of Capetown, South Africa. In his book "Your Healthy Heart" he recommends meditation to heart patients. He furthers says that, during meditation, the cardiac output decreases by 25 percent as in sleep. The heart slows down. The heart beat lessens by an estimated 5 beats per minute. Evidence has also been gathered that the blood pressure can be controlled by meditation.
Though less clear-cut, it has a beneficial, direct physiological effect on the heart. Meditation is most beneficial for those who are prone to coronary ailments. We can learn the technique to relax the mind and the body whenever we desire. At the moments of stress, we should lock ourselves in a quiet room for about half an hour, allow the mind and body to take control of the proceedings. You come out of it quite relaxed. Meditation is an effective weapon in our artillery. We should use it whenever we are under high stress.
Meditation can help in many ways, even to lessen the incidence of crime. It was experimented in a crime-ridden village of Bhusandpur in Puri district, Orissa. To verify this claim made by Mr. Prasanna Patsani, MLA, a group of newsmen from Bhubaneshwar descended to this Orissa’s biggest village which is surrounded by undulating hills, overlooking the Chilka lake. Patsani, a bearded, saffron robed Naxal turned Congress (I) leader, took the press party to the two acre walled compound of the village temple where classes were being held.
On the dhurries spread over the compound lawns were 600 young and old men and women taking their instructions over a public address system. They were asked to do asanas followed by pranayama and dhyana (meditation) to the accompaniment of vedichymns taped in a cassette. What is the secret behind the villager’s enthusiasm in gathering in this secluded spot? What motivates them? Mr. Patsani admits they are paid Rs. 50 each per month as compensation for their lost working hours since 90 percent of the villagers live by fishing on the Chilka. But that is not the only reason why they are enthusiastic. They have found out the physical and mental benefits of the exercise in the open.
Savasana (the corpse pose) is a powerful asana for relaxation which was extensively advocated by the late cardiologist Dr. K.K. Datey. He firmly believed that relaxation played an important role in helping the cure of heart diseases and lowering the high blood pressure.
First Method (Corpse Pose)
- Think about your feet, move your toes, flex your ankle and slowly let it go, let go all the tension and let your feet feel relaxed and heavy.
The simplest thing to do is to select a quiet place with clean air, free from insects and unpleasant smell. Spread a blanket or sheet on the ground or a wooden plank. Remove the hoes, loosen the belt, remove glasses or have only light clothing. Lie on your back. When you lie on a hard surface, without a pillow, your spine is straight almost touching the floor all through. This is the most relaxed position for the body. If you feel your spine is not touching the floor, bend both knees, see that it touches the floor, stretch your legs ajar. Stretch out both your arms, resting them by your side, forming an angle of 15-20 degrees at the arm pit, feet slightly apart and let them fall outwards evenly, eyes gently closed.
Think to yourself that you are going to relax completely and will wake up completely relaxed.
- Think of your leg, calf muscles, knee, thigh and ankle, tighten it and let it go completely relaxed. Feel the weight increasing and feel the muscles sinking on the floor heavy, and feel relaxed.
- Think of your hands, wiggle your fingers, flex your wrist and let it go, feel it dropping heavily on the floor and get relaxed.
- Think of your fore arm, elbow, upper arm and shoulders. Feel them getting, limp and becoming heavy and relaxed.
- Think of your abdomen, draw it in and think of your waist, tighten your hips and them let them go, watch it mentally relaxing inch by inch. Let your breath flow smoothly and deeply.
- Think of your chest, take few deep breaths, think of your shoulders, your neck. Feel the tension flowing out and you are relaxing more and more.
- Think of your neck, head and face, relax your taut neck muscles, relax the face muscles. Drop the jaw parting your lips and teeth.
- Concentrate now over all your body, feel all parts relaxed, to it, to see their tension ebbs out, you feel relaxed.
When the whole body is relaxed, you feel it all gone, heavy and sinking to the floor. You feel as if you are partially paralysed and even if you try, you will not be able to lift your leg or arms. Stay in this bodily state as long as you can. Pay much attention to your breath, let it flow smoothly and deeply. Remain in this position for 10-15 minutes. You can picture some pleasant thoughts or you may make your mind feel vacant or empty, enjoy the state of light sleep. It is a state of deep rest and peace which brings us perfect health.
When you are ready to get up say to yourself that you are completely relaxed. You are there ready to wake up. Feel the body gradually gaining back its strength, your feet your hands, feel you have regained full control of your body. Bend your right knee and then the felt knee, bend your right arm and them the left arm. Open up your body, as it were, stretch the arms above head, stretch the legs and all of your body. Sit down for a few moments and you are ready to start your nest routine.
Second Method (Lateral Swing)
If you have difficulty in getting sleep try the following method:
Step I - Stand with feet apart by 11\2 feet.
Step II- Loosen your arms. Do not keep them straight. Keep them hanging loosely.
Step III - Swing from one side to another by twisting the waist and carry your arm alongwith the upper part of the body. When you twist to right keep your left leg straight and bend your right knee and slightly shift the direction of your feet to right. Do the opposite movement when you twist to the left. Keep blinking for 10 minutes. You may feel giddy in the beginning. You will feel drowsy after this period. Wash your face and feet with cold water and go to bed.
In three days this exercise will definitely help you to get better sleep. Loss of sleep is caused by the fact that you are not able to relax, you are not able to keep away your mind from thinking.
Third Method (Relax Anywhere)
Relaxation is to make use of your mind to calm the body. But, it is more important, that in the first place your mind is calm. You can relax anywhere even in your office, the aircraft, in the bus or train. Make yourself comfortable whether sitting of reclining. Close your eyes. Raise your chin and then let it fall. Take a few deep breaths, see that your mind is calm and tranquil. Imagine that you are sitting on a rock or on a sea beach or even in a garden with a lot of flowers, try to picture any place or situation you have enjoyed the most. See in your mind’s eye the different colours of the flowers, watch their freshness, smell the soft smell flowing from them, feel the cool breeze flowing over your body. Imagine a place you have visited in the past and which represent, to you an ideal spot for physical and mental relaxation.
Children can also be tense and it affects their health. Many children therefore suffer from peptic ulcers and heart diseases. A report from Tokyo prints out that pressures to do well in school have led to a rapid rise in stomach ulcers among the elementary and middle school children. Remember, the seeds of future heart attacks are laid in childhood.
Fourth Method (Relax Your Child)
If you find that your child is not relaxed, if he is not able to sleep well due to tension, you may recommend to him a very simple exercise for relaxation. For instance let him lie down comfortably in bed. Switch the light off, close the door to cut down the noise, if necessary.
Ask him to imagine that he has got holes in the soles of his feet. Let him imagine breathing in and out through these holes. Let him imagine that fresh cool air is entering from his sole and passing through his feet, thighs waist and reaching the chest. In the same way while breathing out let him imagine that the air is passing down his waist, his thighs, feet and through the imaginary holes in his feet. Let him do this exercise for 5-10 minutes. He will feel thoroughly relaxed with exercise and sleep much better.
Relaxation can be achieved through a steam bath, sauna bath warm bath and the various cold water applications, which we have already mentioned in detail in the chapter on water treatment. Massage can also be very relaxing. Any treatment which relaxes the muscles and the body physically will relax the mind also.
If we relax our muscles this cycle of mind tension tensing our muscles can be broken. When our muscles are relaxed our mind is also relaxed. That massaging, when done with strong hands and with strong pressure will be more beneficial is not true. For relaxation, the massage should be done with soft hands and it should be soothing and pleasant. If the massage causes pain it will not relax. It can be done with your hands if help is not available, it can be done by your life partner, a friend or a relation.
It is not the pressure but the awareness of your body which helps you to relax deeper. It should be done systematically from the toes to head. It should be done with a certain rhythm and always from the periphery towards the heart. There is short verse from Granth Sahib written by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion:
As a lotus in the water remains dry
As also a water fowl in the stream
So on meditating on the world
Shall thou be unaffected by the world 201