The very best teaching my first Zen teacher gave me was: No matter what is happening and, no matter if it’s happening “on the inside” or “on the outside”, first and foremost, be aware of what’s happening and do your best to relax. Fear might be happening, be aware of fear and relax. If joy is happening, know joy and relax. If a flat tire is happening, be aware of that and relax. Another way to say this is: be aware of what’s happening, notice, and let go of any drama. Simply work with what’s happening as calmly as possible.
Do Your Best to Relax
We find this same advice in the meditation teachings from all the various Buddhist and yoga traditions. For example, the great Burmese meditation teacher Sayadaw U Tejaniya emphasizes the need to bring a relaxed approach to our meditation and mindfulness practice.
He writes, “It is so important to know whether you are feeling tense or relaxed; check in repeatedly throughout the day; this also applies to daily practice at home or at work. If you don’t do this, then tension will grow. Whether you are tense or relaxed, observe how you are feeling; observe the reactions. When you are relaxed, it is much easier to be aware; not so much effort is required, and it becomes an enjoyable, pleasant and interesting experience.” When Awareness Becomes Natural: A Guide to Cultivating Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Sayadaw U Tejaniya
So, no matter what, check in with yourself, within your every activity, numerous times each day, be aware, relax.
Here’s a link to a fun article by Anna over at her A Serial Life blog. It’s all about the wonderful practice of occasionally doing absolutely nothing as a way to get the relaxation we need. It’s called How to Do Nothing: aseriallife.com/2016/12/19/how-to-do-nothing/
Here’s another link to a post on this blog about the importance of relaxation in Buddhist and yoga practice: sweepingheartzen.org/let-go-let-grasp-nothing/
Have a wonderful week!