Relaxation Meditation – Letting Go of the Body
A Guided Meditation
The physical existence is a ‘catch-and-release’ sport. Whatever we receive as unique unto ourselves we must also relinquish, including, at the very end, our body.
As does everything else, our bodies experience myriad changes as they travel though physical existence and as a result, the way we view our bodies changes as well. We humans tend to get attached to a state of being. But since the state of any living thing changes constantly, our attachment to the way things are can cause us sadness or pain as our state of being changes from moment to moment.
We may have difficulty saying goodbye to our age-specific, body-related joys. For most of us the time comes when it is no longer pleasurable or practical to sit on our parent’s lap. We might miss the frequent contact with which our parents may have expressed their affection for us. In adolescence, we may look back wistfully at the relative simplicity of pre-pubescent childhood. As adults we begin early on to miss the resilience and energy of youth. When we enter ‘middle age’ we start to see the effects of gravity and wear. Accepting these changes can challenge our self esteem, which in turn can cause us to feel unhappy. As we encounter new limitations that inhibit our enjoyment of things we love to do and experience, we may have negative feelings about our bodies.
When the paint on our new car gets its first scratch, we feel a sense of loss. So it is when we get our first wrinkle or varicose vein, or first notice the dimpling of cellulite where we were once firm and smooth, or feel the pain and limitations of movement that come with knees or shoulders that are manifesting signs of wear. But unlike a car, the damage our body sustains as a result of life may not be reparable. Our parts cannot always be replaced, and Botox or surgery may not always be able to give us a ‘paint job’ that looks ‘just like new’.
To ease the suffering that bodily change can bring, I like to meditate on “letting go” of the body. I refer to an emotional letting go, mainly, although there is a physical aspect to it as well, in which I create a feeling of joyful and loving separateness between my self and my body, making the space to feel compassion without sadness for my body in the present moment.
Here is the way I do it. It is not necessarily the ‘right’ way, but it works for me. Feel free to incorporate any variation that improves it for you. The meditation has two parts: relaxation and separation.
To begin, sit comfortably but upright, with a little arch in your back. Pull your shoulders back enough so that your torso feels balanced and your spine feels reasonably relaxed – not tense, but comfortably upright. Put your feet out in front of you a bit if you are seated on a sofa or chair. Rest your hands comfortably on your thighs or lap. Adjust this position so that you are comfortable, but alert.
If no version of this posture is possible for you, lying down is okay, too.
When you feel comfortable, observe your breathing. Observe each breath in and each breath out. Every breath is acceptable; do not judge your breaths. Let them come in and go out as they will, but notice them and pay attention to them as they fall into a natural rhythm. Feel the slow rhythm of your breathing.
Close your eyes. Remaining in your comfortable posture, think about relaxing the muscles in your forehead, around your eyes and eyebrows and in your cheeks. Imagine your breath flowing through these facial muscles. Next, relax the muscles in your jaw and around your mouth.
Moving down your body, relax your neck and release the tension in your throat. Relax the muscles in your shoulders, upper back, arms, hands and fingers. Imagine inhaling the tension in your body and breathing relaxation into your body. Relax your chest, let your stomach be soft, rising and falling with your breath, and release the tension in your lower back.
Feel the contact between your seat and the object you are sitting on. Let go of any tension there. Relax your thighs, your calves, your feet and your toes. Breathe through your entire body and allow it to settle into your comfortable posture as relaxed and stable as it can be. Continue your breathing.
When you are feeling very relaxed, imagine yourself sitting in a room in a comfortable, familiar chair. The room is also very comfortable, and beautifully but simply furnished. Opposite where you are sitting is the door. In the wall to your left there is a window from which sunlight streams into the room. To the right, around the corner, is another room.
Imagine in your mind that you are standing up. Your body is invisible, and standing and moving is effortless. Go to the window on your left and look out on a beautiful sunlit lawn. Across the lawn, at some distance, there is a flower garden in full bloom, partially surrounded by a tall hedge. To the left, there is a forest. To the right, a gorgeous shimmering lake stretches off to a farther shore in the misty distance.
Another time you will go out through the door and explore the garden or the lake, but today you will see what is in the other room. With a little reluctance, perhaps, you turn away from the window and move toward the archway that leads to the other room.
As you enter the other room, imagine that you can see your body, seated as you left it, in the position you left it in. Notice how angelically peaceful your face is. Notice the position of your hands. Observe your body carefully, taking time to notice all its unique details and appreciate its usefulness for experiencing all the sensations of life.
When you are ready, return to sit in your comfortable chair in the first room. Notice your breathing. Notice the feeling of contact between you and the surface upon which your body rests. Open your eyes. Continue to breathe as you notice and remember your surroundings. Wiggle your toes and flex your fingers. When you feel grounded with no trace of disorientation, carefully stand up. Stretch and breathe.
This concludes the meditation. Please let me know what you think about it.