Meditation Tip: Releasing and Energizing
It is almost universal for anyone beginning a meditation practice to find his or her mind distracted away from the object of meditation, got lost in those endless loops of thinking, remembering, fantasizing and so on. And there is also the opposite experience–the mind feeling heavy, dull, and drowsy, eventually falling asleep on the cushion.
How do I deal with these distractions and sleepiness? This little meditation tip has helped me greatly, saving me from that strong sense of disappointment and frustration, which has derailed many aspiring meditators.
In essence, it is very simple: when my mind is busy (or excited, agitated, etc.), I remind myself to release the excess mental and physical energy; when my mind is dull (or drowsy, sleepy, heavy, etc.), I remind myself to energize my body and mind. Somewhere among all these repetitive acts of releasing and energizing, I help my attention to find its way back to my meditation object and establish a delicate balance resting evenly on it.
Releasing is accomplished with the help of the out-breath. When I breathe out, I gently let go of the thoughts, images, stories and so forth that preoccupy my attention. Let them flow away with the breath, like a river sweeping logs downstream and disappearing from my sight.
Energizing is accomplished with the in-breath, as I take in fresh supplies of air with each breath. I tell myself that this oxygen will go from my lungs to all parts of my body and mind, allowing the cells to metabolize food and access more energy. Although this concept may sound too simple, the secret lies in the execution. How patient and gentle can I be with myself while I repeatedly engage in releasing or energizing? If I can find the right attitude, then the technique will take care of itself, gradually leading my mind back to balance.
Likewise, I can also draw a parallel with the experiences outside of meditation. Don’t we get worked up with anger, anxiety, and so forth? Don’t we find ourselves feeling lethargic, dull, uninterested, and so on? By mastering this technique of releasing and energizing, we can become the master of our emotions and mental states, not in the sense of never getting upset or never encountering difficult challenges in life. Rather, we know the way to return our mind to a state of balance and then to engage these multiple challenges in the most effective and beneficial manner. It all depends on knowing how and when to release excess energy or to put in more of it.
Published on October 5, 2011.
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