The stresses of daily living can cause anyone to accumulate tensions if they can’t or won’t let go. These tensions ultimately become locked in one’s body as well as in the mind. The result is that, over time, you can lose consciousness of the continued presence of this tension in both body and mind. Because of this phenomena, most people are not familiar enough with their bodies to recognize when they are really relaxed; however, they may occasionally have that illusion.
It is only in retrospect, after one has practiced a “letting go” meditation that it is noticed that the tension has been unconsciously present all the time. Some teachers also point out that we have certain tensions that we are borne with, and letting go of these is fundamental to our conscious evolution.
Learning Letting Go
Letting go is an essential life skill that can be learned. It can also be an integral part of regaining one’s life, living consciously, compassionately and happily in a world that is largely unconscious. This skill is practiced as a part of Taoist meditations like sitting and standing. Learning how to let go in this manner primarily requires one’s willingness and patience.
This meditation will help you find where tension is locked in the body and let it go. This body-based method trains your ability to become aware of and sense where blockages are located.
The first step on this path is to acquire the ability to concentrate and stay on task. Introductory meditation techniques like following the breath are very good for helping train the mind in this manner. This practice also helps your breathing to become smoother, more regular, slower and deeper, which is also a prerequisite for relaxing and releasing. If you are a neophyte to meditation, practice this preliminary step for 60 days first before moving on to the next step.
During the next stage you do progressive relaxation, starting from the top of the head, and progressing down the body to the feet and toes. Progressive relaxation is a method common to various meditation techniques and yoga. The conscious intention is to let go with each exhalation, going steadily down the body.
Solid – Liquid – Gas Letting Go Meditation
The next stage is to actively engage your intention on the areas of the body and to do a dissolving process. This dissolving process envisions the tension, wherever it is encountered, as changing to liquid and finally to gas as it is released. As with the progressive relaxation, you start at the top of the head and go all the way down the body.
Tension is usually characterized by a feeling of tightness. It may feel more cold or hot in an area. You can also experience areas of the body without much feeling. It may be that an area has been tense for so long that you have lost nerve sensation in that area. Holding your attention on these areas will focus energy there and increase the blood circulation as well, creating new sensations.
At first, the dissolving meditation is done lightly, without deep engagement in the areas where you find tension. Why is this? It is done this way so you can progress in a reasonable amount of time (the amount of time you have set aside for meditation) totally down the body to the feet and toes.
In more advanced stages of this letting go meditation, you can do light dissolving all the way down the body and then return to specific areas where you have found blockages. Return to the highest point in the body where you have noted a blockage. After you have dissolved the area and released it, return your intention to dissolve downward again to the feet and toes.
Practical results of the meditation
Due to the progressive nature of the meditation going down the body, the amount of tension accumulated in the neck, shoulders and head decreases sharply. If you have tension headaches or migraines, this will help immeasurably. If you have asthma, then relaxation of the throat, bronchi, and rib cage will increase your breathing capacity. As you breathing relaxes, you breathe more using the diaphragm, will helps digestion and waste elimination. Diaphragmatic breathing also gives your organs (kidneys, liver, spleen and intestines) a massage, which helps improve blood circulation and function.
Scientific investigations on meditation has shown that there are many other beneficial effects of a regular practice. Brain function is improved as shown by memory improvement and an increase in conscious awareness. It also increases compassion. Other research has demonstrated a reduction in anxiety and mood disturbances, as well as a elicitation of healthy responses of the body to inflammation and free radicals.
Getting beyond this, advanced Taoist meditation is also termed Taoist alchemy. The dissolving meditation can be used to help dissolve emotions and unexplainable factors that lie behind the perceived blockages in the body. The breath is used as a vehicle to facilitate this process. This type of meditation practice is called inner dissolving and it is practiced after outer dissolving, the topic of this blog entry.