Meditation Forum

Vipassana Meditation Forum => Meditation, Practice And The Path => Topic started by: Matthew on March 16, 2012, 08:13:19 PM

Title: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Matthew on March 16, 2012, 08:13:19 PM
Relaxation is the key to really treading the path of the Buddha, the golden key, the missing key, the misunderstood key.

Why so?

It's pretty simple really. The Buddha is often quoted as saying "Life is suffering", the first of the "four noble truths".

But he didn't.

What he said is "life is stressful".

He then taught how our clinging or aversion to sense objects creates this stress. How our mind and body function to continually keep this stress going. And he taught the way to move beyond stressful living to stress-free living.

The first step in that is relaxation. Relaxation is the opposite of stress. It is the antidote to stress.

If the Buddha had meant life was suffering then the antidote would have been doing pleasurable things - but the Buddha saw that even those things we perceive as pleasurable induce stress.

Many times I have emphasised the importance of relaxation. This week Alex and I met up for the third time since last year. It has been very interesting watching this young guy develop in such a quick time. He is treading the path in a dignified way and navigating the troubled waters of being a teen at the same time. And he is very relaxed with himself, but very present and very real.

He helped me understand this basic aspect of why the BuddhaDhamma is misunderstood so much.

Life is not suffering. Life is many things. The Buddha taught that simplicity, morality and wisdom make for a stress free life, compared to the norm.

Relax. And don't be lazy about your morality/discipline. But relax about that too. Don't give yourself a hard time about it. That is "The Middle Way".

Thanks for the help with this one Alex. It was great to see you again.

Matthew
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Andrew on March 17, 2012, 02:02:12 AM
 :)
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Masauwu on March 17, 2012, 07:35:20 AM
This may sound strange, but it was difficult for me to understand what relaxing means. All my life i thought relaxation was (mostly physical) rest, in a siesta-like unmindful state.

But since i started discovering the dhamma, calm and relaxation appear to be results of understanding and dealing with reality. Identifying with and clinging to content create stress, being mindful of content as impermanent external objects brings calm. This is my current understanding, very much a work in progress.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Andrew on March 18, 2012, 03:28:45 AM
This may sound strange, but it was difficult for me to understand what relaxing means. All my life i thought relaxation was (mostly physical) rest, in a siesta-like unmindful state.

Not strange to me; same here. i got it, then i forgot, then i remember, then i forget. So many goals arise, so many plans and schemes of how I'm going to get free, yet the basics go unexplored; what does it mean to relax? what is calm right now?

edit: remove dribble.



Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: mdr on August 05, 2012, 12:52:02 AM
Relaxation is the key to really treading the path of the Buddha, the golden key, the missing key, the misunderstood key.

Why so?

It's pretty simple really. The Buddha is often quoted as saying "Life is suffering", the first of the "four noble truths".

But he didn't.

What he said is "life is stressful".


Thank you so much for sharing this, Matthew! This concept of "suffering"  was really confusing me and sadly i had dismissed there were veryfew  chances for a Sanskrit/Pali expression from long ago to make it without its meaning being corrupted! (As an interpreter i should have known better! ) The same like with translations of Hebrew Bible... Anyway, once again, thank you for bringing it up!
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Mal on September 27, 2012, 12:14:42 PM
We tend to reserve "suffering" for extreme stresses - dying of a painful cancer, for instance. So by translating dukkha as suffering we are reminded that the Buddha's message is for more than just those who are (say) a bit stressed at work.

Wikipedia says "Dukkha is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "suffering", "stress", "anxiety", or "dissatisfaction". I have also seen it translated in other ways. It's just that English doesn't have one word that  is as comprehensive as dukkha.

We need to get dukkha into the English langauge! Karma made it, why not dukkha?
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: redalert on October 29, 2012, 09:22:25 PM
        I don't think the buddha said life is suffering or life is stressful. The first noble truth is, there is Dukka(suffering,stress etc..).
        Lifeforms are suffering, under stress, etc... the cessation of this is Nibbana.
        "relaxation is the antidote to stress" I would say it is helpful in establishing concentration, but the antidote to stress is wisdom.
         
       
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Matthew on October 31, 2012, 10:52:19 PM
Can't agree with you there 100% redalert. Wisdom is the antidote to ignorance. The wisdom of relaxation as the antidote to stress may be the proper way to express my intention in this matter :D
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: redalert on November 01, 2012, 11:14:46 AM
     We're on the same playing field now.   ;)

     Good to see you back in the game  :)
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: JamesT79 on May 28, 2013, 04:31:13 PM
For me relaxation, true relaxation, is not being asleep (for my dreams make sure I don't relax), is not being in an unmindful state but rather being acutely awake but totally at peace with everything in my immediate surroundings and in my head. It is rare! :) Neither happy nor sad but craving neither nor anything else.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Billymac629 on May 28, 2013, 10:55:32 PM
For me relaxation, true relaxation, is not being asleep (for my dreams make sure I don't relax), is not being in an unmindful state but rather being acutely awake but totally at peace with everything in my immediate surroundings and in my head. It is rare! :) Neither happy nor sad but craving neither nor anything else.
This is an important thing to keep in mind....   relaxation might not be the best word to use...  The Buddha used words like "calm","tranquil",and "serene".   Relaxation tends to lend people into thinking that you need to undo things that are tight (relaxing tension in the body).. 
Although relaxing tension in the body is a nice tool to use to help settle the mind, it is not an end goal.  Relaxation, itself, is not part of the 8 Fold Path..  Calmness/tranquility/serenity, however, are  ;)
Right Concentration is the 8th fold of the Noble 8 Fold Path and calmness is a part of Right Concentration.

The difference in calmness and relaxation is the simile used of a cup of water..  When the cup is held and shakened, the water is unsettled or turbulent.  When the cup is put on a non-moveable object, the water becomes settled or calm.  Its not really correct to say the water became relaxed..

We are looking to calm the turbulence of the mind to allow rapture to arise..  Relaxation can be an aid in doing so, but not a must.

We tend to reserve "suffering" for extreme stresses - dying of a painful cancer, for instance. So by translating dukkha as suffering we are reminded that the Buddha's message is for more than just those who are (say) a bit stressed at work.

Wikipedia says "Dukkha is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "suffering", "stress", "anxiety", or "dissatisfaction". I have also seen it translated in other ways. It's just that English doesn't have one word that  is as comprehensive as dukkha.

We need to get dukkha into the English langauge! Karma made it, why not dukkha?

I agree...  Dukkha does not have a great translation into english...  Much like the term sati, Bhikkhu Bodhi said it is very hard to find a really good translation of these terms from the pali into english.

maha metta
 :)
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: redalert on May 28, 2013, 11:53:41 PM
  Relaxation, itself, is not part of the 8 Fold Path.. 

For me relaxation is linked to right effort. I cannot force awareness, effortlessly awareness arises as I relax.

Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Matthew on May 29, 2013, 06:44:47 AM
calm and relaxed are synonyms, agreed it may cause confusion to some,
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: garyblackhouse on May 31, 2013, 10:31:47 PM
We need to get dukkha into the English langauge! Karma made it, why not dukkha?

Someone needs to write a song called "Instant Dukkha."  8)
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Mpgkona on May 31, 2013, 11:29:57 PM
Might not be a good idea since there's no proper translation for it. Suffering, and even insufficient, does not do the word justice (so I have heard). It would be misconstrued like Karma has been.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Billymac629 on June 01, 2013, 02:36:10 AM
unsatisfying is can be a good place holder for dukkha....  but again, its much more than that..  ;)
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Hazmatac on November 23, 2013, 11:23:27 AM
It was a mistranslation?
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: jernej on December 24, 2013, 11:26:45 PM
It's pretty simple really. The Buddha is often quoted as saying "Life is suffering", the first of the "four noble truths".

But he didn't.

What he said is "life is stressful".

Uh, wow, thanks for this. It makes so much more sense.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: vi6h0r on December 27, 2013, 08:54:16 AM
A mind can only learn when it is totally relaxed, when it doesn’t know, otherwise you cannot learn. So, is your mind free to observe the world and observe yourself? You cannot observe if you are saying “This is right” and ”This is wrong”, “I must control”, “I must suppress”, “I must obey”, ”I must disobey”.  And, if you are saying that I must live a permissive life, then you are not free to learn; if you are confirming, you are not free to learn.

First we should be able to determine how to free our minds, how to end this physiological time, rest will happen naturally.  :angel:

Read more-  Moderator edit, link removed
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Embracetheday on January 05, 2014, 03:11:57 AM
the Buddha wanted us to accept our reality as it is. When we accept we are equanimous. When are equanimous, life is so much easier. You may want to call that being relaxed. the important thing is thoughts and sensations arise, stay for sometime and pass away. When we are equanimous these thoughts lose their power and control on us.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Lionheart on February 09, 2014, 05:56:44 AM
I consider relaxation the state where the body is so at rest that one can focus on meditation without distractions (arising from the body).  The mind is alert, not sleepy.  It can take effort to relax without falling asleep, but when one gets to this state, it's like the body disappears like vapor.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: theendoftheword on March 09, 2014, 08:19:49 AM
buddha was a charlatan. any enlightened man should be able to see this. his doctrines have functioned as a distraction from the true demons that beset man, such as the world of man. peaceful is the natural state of man, and this is destroyed, deliberately and systematically by other men. the man who says "be relaxed" (in hell), has lost understanding and has instead merely created a peaceful delusion.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Dharmic Tui on March 09, 2014, 10:22:13 AM
I feel like responding but my mind says it's a bit pointless.
Title: The Vagus Nerve
Post by: Matthew on May 07, 2014, 02:52:36 AM
I've been banging on about the vagus nerve for years. Recently I've not been such a lone voice in this regard:

http://vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,1369.msg10982.html#msg10982 (http://vipassanaforum.net/forum/index.php/topic,1369.msg10982.html#msg10982)

Psychology today: The Neurobiology of Grace Under Pressure

Quote
Researchers continue to confirm that daily habits of mindset and behavior can create a positive snowball effect through a feedback loop linked to stimulating your vagus nerve.
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201302/the-neurobiology-grace-under-pressure (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201302/the-neurobiology-grace-under-pressure)

Eiru-Eolas - "Irish Gaelic for growth of knowledge": Activating the Vagus Nerve

Quote
The vagus nerve is the nerve that comes from the brain and controls the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your relaxation response.
http://eiriu-eolas.org/2013/06/15/activating-the-vagus-nerve/ (http://eiriu-eolas.org/2013/06/15/activating-the-vagus-nerve/)

If you Google vagus nerve Meditation you'll find a bunch of stuff now including "How the Dalai Lama can help you live to 120" - from a report on a conference with major US university researchers and Buddhist monks and scholars:

Quote
You immune system is controlled by a nerve call the vagus
nerve.

But this isn’t just any nerve.

It is the most important nerve coming from the brain and
travels to all the major organs.

And you can activate this nerve — through relaxation,
meditation, and other ancient practices.

What’s the benefit of that?

Well, by activating the vagus nerve, you can control your
immune cells, reduce inflammation, and even prevent disease
and aging!
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Spiny Norman on September 25, 2014, 08:12:01 PM
Rest in natural great peace this exhausted mind,
Beaten helpless by karma and neurotic thoughts
Like the relentless fury of the pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.
Rest in natural great peace.

—  Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Normal Andy on December 08, 2014, 08:01:30 AM
I keep hearing that 'a bit of stress is good for you.' - I don't agree with that personally but it's undoubtedly good for business...

One of the mistakes I made when relaxing and considering awareness was to become a little Nihilistic with the idea of being empty. I let thoughts be there and drop away, the same with feelings and sensations but could never quite come to terms with the 'nothng' that was left over- there was something missing(!). After reading and listening to some ideas on the nature of consciousness, I realised that the 'nothing' was my awareness that was left over when I had nothing left to identify with. Nothing/ It had been there all the time. Identifying with nothing allows me to try and connect with the space that is around me- there is a whole lot of nothing around and I guess the reason I had never really noticed it before is because it's very hard to notice something really still.

I have work to do with letting that idea drop away too (I'm still aware that I'm visualising 'consciousness' as a big globey sort of object expanding around me to help me on my way), but it was really nice to feel like I had connected to a very calm and relaxed place for a little while- and I have managed to spend longer there over the last year or so.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Dharmic Tui on December 08, 2014, 11:48:26 AM
I have tended to find recently a level of enjoyment or pleasure from a relaxed approach which is free of stress. This doesn't seem forced.

In regards to the "a little stress is good" comment, I can appreciate how that might be the case for someone lacking motivation or self control. But if you're the sort of person who's capable of knuckles down and getting on with whatever is in front of you then stress is of little beneficial use.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Normal Andy on December 08, 2014, 12:09:14 PM
Yes I agree- stress in nearly all the forms I have experienced is never a liberating experience. In fact it seems to slowly curtails the creative experience that comes from relaxed fascination and encourages submission to authorities and institutions who have no real right to be dictating your life to you.

The suggestion is that people need a little 'stressing' and pushing around in order to fall in line and behave properly and achieve your objectives. I wouldn't do it to myself...
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Just A Simple Guy on December 08, 2014, 12:49:38 PM
Perhaps this is a simplistic approach but I don't try to contemplate or identify with the space of awareness. The phrase that works best for me is 'rest in awareness'. Beyond that I find any attempt to further pin it down detracts from its inherent serene nature. I guess it's simply being. Nothing more and nothing less.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Jeremy on December 17, 2014, 02:37:43 PM
I've always known that life is suffering. And why wouldn't I? The anxiety, the depression, the manifold indignities I experience every day...

But I really, really know that life is suffering when I first started to watch my breath. This was about a year ago. There is a point during exhalation when there is a feeling of suffocation for lack of air. This feeling is what makes you inhale again. It's when I saw that even breathing is unpleasant that the totality of suffering became apparent to me.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Middleway on December 18, 2014, 02:58:03 AM
I've always known that life is suffering. And why wouldn't I? The anxiety, the depression, the manifold indignities I experience every day...

But I really, really know that life is suffering when I first started to watch my breath. This was about a year ago. There is a point during exhalation when there is a feeling of suffocation for lack of air. This feeling is what makes you inhale again. It's when I saw that even breathing is unpleasant that the totality of suffering became apparent to me.

So, how do we get rid of this suffering? Stop breathing? Jump off a cliff?. Or simply accept the suffering and let go? Life is happiness too. There cannot be happiness without suffering and suffering without happiness.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: bram on June 18, 2015, 03:56:25 AM
I'm pretty okay with the translation of 'suffering' or at least 'unsatisfactoryness' for dukka, because sooner or later we need to come to terms with the fact that samsara is not a continual flow of pleasurable experience, and what we take for pleasurable experience is actually causing us to suffer more.

If we try to focus our meditation on relaxing, then that seems pretty much like just pursuing more pleasure. Of course, relaxation and de-stressing comes in time as a side effect of practice, but not till we realize that our ordinary lives are a never ending cycle of 'unsatisfactoryness'.

Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Matthew on June 18, 2015, 03:16:21 PM
Hi bram,

You are quite correct - really I am emphasising here the importance of relaxation to practice, the main topic of the forum. Our lives are so cluttered and full of stress that this needs to be cut through for practice not to be imbued with it.

Kindly,

Matthew
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: aekmitpatel on July 17, 2015, 12:57:27 AM
One of the most simple relaxation technique I learnt was to close my eyes and focus on my breathing. You can do it for 1 or 2 minutes to start with and then extend the time as you become more and more relaxed. The feeling you get after you open your eyes is amazing.

You just need to focus on your own breathing. Any thought that crosses your mind let it cross. Bring back your focus again to your breathing.

Doing this will give you and idea of how powerful relaxation will be.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: LotusBud on September 15, 2015, 09:12:18 PM
Hello all,
First post and very happy to be here. 

 I learned a little about relaxation via my tai chi teacher and the teachings of the great grandmaster Cheng Man Ching.  One thing that stuck with me about what he taught about relaxation was his definition of tension, which I see as one of the opposites of relaxation.  He said that, "Tension in the body is holding onto something that isn't there".  Simple enough.  So I go through the areas of the body and see or feel if I am holding tension.  Common to westerners is tension in the upper shoulders, upper chest, arms, neck, or back.  If you put your minds eye in these areas you can usually find some tension of tightness.  Letting it go helps reach a truer sense of relaxation.  Hope this helps.  :)

regard, Phil  :)
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Yes2life on April 23, 2016, 08:11:08 AM
For me relaxation is linked to right effort. I cannot force awareness, effortlessly awareness arises as I relax.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Matthew on May 15, 2016, 12:16:37 PM
That's a good understanding Yes2life. When Bram wrote earlier, "If we try to focus our meditation on relaxing, then that seems pretty much like just pursuing more pleasure.", a point was missed really: it's not about focussing on relaxation it's about the right balance between focus or concentration and relaxation: "not too tight, not too loose".
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Laurent on July 23, 2016, 03:36:35 PM
Relaxation is the key to really treading the path of the Buddha, the golden key, the missing key, the misunderstood key.

Why so?

It's pretty simple really. The Buddha is often quoted as saying "Life is suffering", the first of the "four noble truths".

But he didn't.

What he said is "life is stressful".

He then taught how our clinging or aversion to sense objects creates this stress. How our mind and body function to continually keep this stress going. And he taught the way to move beyond stressful living to stress-free living.

The first step in that is relaxation. Relaxation is the opposite of stress. It is the antidote to stress.

If the Buddha had meant life was suffering then the antidote would have been doing pleasurable things - but the Buddha saw that even those things we perceive as pleasurable induce stress.

Many times I have emphasised the importance of relaxation. This week Alex and I met up for the third time since last year. It has been very interesting watching this young guy develop in such a quick time. He is treading the path in a dignified way and navigating the troubled waters of being a teen at the same time. And he is very relaxed with himself, but very present and very real.

He helped me understand this basic aspect of why the BuddhaDhamma is misunderstood so much.

Life is not suffering. Life is many things. The Buddha taught that simplicity, morality and wisdom make for a stress free life, compared to the norm.

Relax. And don't be lazy about your morality/discipline. But relax about that too. Don't give yourself a hard time about it. That is "The Middle Way".

Thanks for the help with this one Alex. It was great to see you again.

Matthew

Sure  :)
I frequently say to people asking about my practice that dhamma is the best relaxation method ever.
It can be comprehended as a full relaxation method leading to liberation of any kind of stress. As you noticed it, Buddha's words can be heard this way.
The english word "relax" combines the two meanings: calm and release.
In my native language, french, things are not so easy. We have "relâcher" for release and "relaxer" for calm but is mostly used for body relaxation. So i have to precise "mental relaxation" to be understood.
But the root of both the words is the same.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: stillpointdancer on July 23, 2016, 06:21:52 PM
That's a good understanding Yes2life. When Bram wrote earlier, "If we try to focus our meditation on relaxing, then that seems pretty much like just pursuing more pleasure.", a point was missed really: it's not about focussing on relaxation it's about the right balance between focus or concentration and relaxation: "not too tight, not too loose".
There's nothing wrong with relaxing using different techniques, but it's not vipassana meditation. I prefer the analogy of a cat at a mouse hole. The cat appears to be relaxed, but is in fact ready to spring at the first sight of a mouse. The balance you talk about is like that, a relaxed tension where you appear lost in the meditation, but if anything needs your immediate attention you are ready to react any time.
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: Ben-meijer on March 26, 2017, 07:41:54 PM
Dear all,

Yes, our western world is all about stress.
As an EFT-therapist, I know all about de-stressing and de-programming peoples achieve mode, perfection striving, etc. Praticing EFT has taught me so much about emotions, judgements and thoughts, how these interact, patterns of... and how behaviours is so linked tot emotions and patterns. This has been of great help on the way/path, before I met Vipassana.

But, when we look back 200 years, there was less stress and haste. Both then and now, there is suffering.

What Vipassana has taught me, is that the body reacts at a bodily level to every bit of information from any of the sense doors, including the mind (a single thought, is categorized andreacted upon immediately).

And yes. As long as we are slaves to raga an dosha, on a bodily level, or on a psychological level, being caught up in trying to make our life go the way we want, we are suffering. We are running from birth till death. There is no real choice to act or re-act willfully... It is all engrained, we are running programs.

destressing I did long before I did vipassana. I could relax very well and deeply before vipassana. Vipassana allowed me to go the the roots more, and ferret them out. Accepting the vipassana proces allowed me to practice letting go of controll, my real nemesis. In Vipassana you dont choose which sansakara you will deal with now. It just comes up.
And yess, you really need to relax deeply to feel deeply. That all happens when you follow instructions, doesnt it?

My 2-cents worth
Title: Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
Post by: savethelastbreathforme on November 08, 2018, 05:32:28 PM
buddha was a charlatan. any enlightened man should be able to see this. his doctrines have functioned as a distraction from the true demons that beset man, such as the world of man. peaceful is the natural state of man, and this is destroyed, deliberately and systematically by other men. the man who says "be relaxed" (in hell), has lost understanding and has instead merely created a peaceful delusion.

I dont know if Buddha was a charlatan or not. But peace was the natural state of us (man), but as you say this has been destroyed by others & ourselves. Seems to my ignorant mind that the Buddha was trying to find a systematic way to live in the world of man.

I had this peace until physical illness hit me last christmas. Suddenly it awoke me to the world of suffering. I dont know if I will have peace again, but I will go on the journey.

Kind Regards.