Author Topic: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.  (Read 22425 times)

Matthew

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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
« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 08:19:15 PM by Matthew »
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Andrew

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2012, 02:02:12 AM »
 :)
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Masauwu

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #2 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.
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Andrew

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #3 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.



« Last Edit: March 18, 2012, 03:34:09 AM by Andrew »
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mdr

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #4 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!

Mal

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #5 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?

redalert

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #6 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.
         
       
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 08:40:01 PM by redalert »

Matthew

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #7 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
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redalert

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2012, 11:14:46 AM »
     We're on the same playing field now.   ;)

     Good to see you back in the game  :)

JamesT79

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #9 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.

Billymac629

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #10 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.

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redalert

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #11 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.


Matthew

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2013, 06:44:47 AM »
calm and relaxed are synonyms, agreed it may cause confusion to some,
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garyblackhouse

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #13 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)

Mpgkona

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #14 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.
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

Billymac629

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #15 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..  ;)
Nothing in this world is to be clung to as I, me, or mine...

Hazmatac

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2013, 11:23:27 AM »
It was a mistranslation?

jernej

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #17 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.

vi6h0r

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #18 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
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 06:11:14 PM by Matthew »
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Embracetheday

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #19 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.

Lionheart

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #20 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.

theendoftheword

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #21 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.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2014, 08:25:01 AM by theendoftheword »

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2014, 10:22:13 AM »
I feel like responding but my mind says it's a bit pointless.

Matthew

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The Vagus Nerve
« Reply #23 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

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

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/

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!
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Spiny Norman

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Re: Relaxation: The key and why it's importance is misunderstood.
« Reply #24 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