Releasing Tension

Swami Satyananda Saraswati Belfast on May 27th 1980
In this century, what most people seek is peace of mind. Of course tension has always been there, but now more and more people are becoming aware of it, and are beginning to experience it in various unpleasant forms. As man undergoes a process of evolution, he accumulates tensions within, but few realise that this process is internal. They attribute the source of their inner tension to the outer environment. In yoga, we come to realise that the source of tension, is internal. Therefore, instead of wasting our energy on the external environment, let us look deep within ourselves. Once we learn to do that, we will know how to tackle the problems of our personality. It is not mere realisation of the symptoms of the mind that is yoga, it is realisation of the fundamental mind stuff. Anger, passion, anxiety, neurosis, hatred, jealousy; these are the symptoms of the mind; they are not the mind. The intelligent people of this century have become aware of the symptoms of the mind, but they have not been able to comprehend the mind in its totality. In order to comprehend the mind, it is necessary that we are able to look within. When you throw a pebble into a pond, ripples are created. In our modern psychological system we have been trying to treat these ripples; we have not tried to stop the person throwing the pebbles. Psychology treats the symptoms of the mind, yoga manages the mind itself. The main subject matter of yoga is the mind; the body is the dwelling house of the mind. Because the body is the carrier of the mind, it has also been included within the framework of yoga practices, but just by taking care of the body and neglecting the basic structure of the mind, we are forgetting the very purpose of yoga. We talk about meditation, we know about relaxation, but what exactly are we trying to do when we want to relax ourselves? Is it sufficient that we sleep at night with the aid of a few pills? What is relaxation? For those who have not been exposed to the science of yoga, relaxation has a negative connotation. Many people think that as we become tension - free, the activities of the mind regress; indolence and passivity predominate; and life becomes almost boring. We have not been able to define relaxation in terms of tension. If there is no tension, there is no need for relaxation. We must redefine tension, become totally aware, and avoid indolence or indifference. If we can adjust our awareness properly, while also attending to the duties and obligations of life, then tension and relaxation can occur side by side. But the trouble is that our 1

To my surprise. and we act as his 2 . and every part of the body is shaken. Whenever emotional tensions arise. the guiding light. to endocrinal imbalances. these tensions are the most difficult to erase. Our initial experiment occurred when an American doctor came to our ashram with his sophisticated instruments. Frequently. Through bhakti. We cannot treat a disease with a medicine which is not relevant to it. If tension is of a particular kind. birth and death. as he is infinite in nature. Emotional tension Emotional tensions are intricate problems. In order to understand the nature of tension. The love for him becomes the controlling factor. because we refuse to recognise them. That was the first time I realised that in practising yoga postures. resulting from various dualities such as love and hate. beyond relativity and the mundane world. even though he may not be living in his physical body. This higher object may be a guru.asanas. in any part of his body. while other people are finite. surplus emotion remains. happiness and unhappiness. the machine recorded no tension. Muscular tension belongs to the level of the gross body . By directing one's emotion to this deity.muscular. we must refer to the three types. We have been doing this research for some time. bandhas and mudras. Muscular tension Muscular tensions belong to the body. and many people cannot face that. To overcome this obstacle. how can it be totally absorbed by finite surroundings? This is precisely the reason why one has to become a disciple and have a guru. the practice of karma yoga and bhakti yoga is necessary. Man's love is boundless. we can measure tension in his muscles. which produces frustration and discontent. separation and union. he measured the areas that appeared to have tension. you are relaxing the tensions of muscles. Muscular tension can be eased by practising hatha yoga. profit and loss. Although human beings can bestow their love on family. Expressing emotion honestly and clearly is very difficult. Our thoughts. friends and various objects. an incarnation or a saint. success and failure. pranayama. As a result. actions and aspirations are inspired and guided by him. then relaxation must also be of the same kind. While one of the swamis performed bhujangasana. to the nervous system. therefore. This in turn forms a block which impedes the flow of energy. a god. the individual becomes confused.method of gaining awareness creates tension. mental and emotional. this emotion is channelled to a higher object. they are released in frightening dreams or other areas of human experience.inside and out. When we subject someone to a medical examination. it may be possible to dedicate all love and devotion to him.

divine love. the practice of meditation is necessary. To alleviate this. they accumulate over the years into a tremendous quantity. the mind and the emotions. 3 . The intellectual process is not merely superficial.a realisation of the importance of action in our day to day life. listen to the wise and reflect on their words. confusions and oscillations. so that eventually they affect the whole of our physical and mental systems. Karma yoga is action performed without ego or expectation. these are experiences that pass through the area of human consciousness. Throughout our life. Thus. A thought is very powerful. into karma yoga. every experience which is registered by our consciousness remains stagnant in our mental body. chasing the pleasures in life which are ultimately perishable and cannot fulfil the purpose of our love. affecting our body. we destroy the absolute objective. behaviour and reactions.instruments. thereby creating a happy equilibrium between the mind and the experience that is taking place. thereby discovering the real purpose behind life. we often attribute that condition of the mind to some superficial cause. In the process of meditation. the intellect is trained properly so that you may read books. then our emotions run riot. A tragedy or a comedy. discipline the senses. angry or irritated. through bhakti yoga. the worldly love and emotion is channelled into higher. It is important for everyone to realise that meditation is not only a process of entering the inner being of man. if our experiences throughout life remain unanalysed. Similarly. Mental tension Mental tensions are caused by excessive intellectual activity. especially when it is registered or embedded in the consciousness. in the shop or anywhere. If you know how to manage the process of thinking and analysing. When we are sad. it has the power to create balance or imbalance. surely it will deteriorate. or for prestige or fame. If we work only to amass wealth. In raja yoga and gyana yoga we eliminate mental tension through the thought process. it can be immediately counteracted. but that it also creates a condition in this physical body whereby the mental tensions stop influencing the physical and intra-physical processes. then whenever a problem casts even the slightest shadow on he mind. If a lazy man does not clean and sweep his house. The mind is a whirlpool of fantasies. a profit or loss. finally being stored up in the inner mind. in the spirit of sacrifice. If this divine love or bhakti is not practised. But the underlying cause behind man's normal and abnormal behaviour lies in the accumulated tensions of the mental plane. mind. We can practise this by converting work done at home. where they explode from time to time. Through karma yoga we can purify ourselves. This conversion principle involves a transformation of ideas.

in the art of meditation. sounds or visions. Antar mouna is a practice in which you observe the behaviour of the mind without any partiality or obstruction. Just as toxins are removed from the body in shankhaprakshalana. then we pollute the entire atmosphere and become a victim of these toxins as well. Two other useful practices for releasing tension are antar mouna. These toxins affect people's behaviour and consequently the society in which we live becomes negative and dangerous.When thoughts flow unchecked and experiences swarm through the mind like clouds in the monsoon season. and yoga nidra or psychic sleep. You allow the mind to behave as it wants to. The past and future. in the initial stages of mantra practice. Even with yogic techniques. If we expel the poison of our mind. colours. Perhaps they will come up when you are with your family. In its fantasising. There. or when you are holding a gun in your hand. Watch the activities of the mind like a silent spectator. the first success is awareness of the thoughts. Mantra repetition delves into the human mind where experiences remain in seed form. worries and anxieties will all pass through the mind. 4 . without being affected by any of them. we should start with the practice of mantra repetition. surely they will be retained and surface some other time. When your mind is brooding over a thought. but you are only an impartial witness. the mind becomes restless. and for a long time this expulsion of thought is necessary in order to free the consciousness from this burden. They are expressions of stresses and strains in human consciousness. but in fact. to decrease mental and emotional tension. mind and emotions. sitting in parliament. But when the thought is unpleasant and forcing itself on us. fore. the deeper realms of the mind require cleansing through meditation. It disturbs these thought patterns and brings them to the surface. let the thoughts pass through without stopping them. When it is pleasant. But there is no need for this. body and emotions through our everyday actions. Practice is the key Meditation is a general term. If you suppress these subconscious toxins. it will take time before the mind is purified and experiences shoonya or nothingness. handling a machine. we like it. friends. mantra plays a significant role. Thus. you feel dissatisfied with yourself because you have not been able to concentrate your mind. but that state of inner tranquillity will ultimately be reflected in our outward behaviour. the mind sometimes reflects on the past. of the deep rooted experiences that surface either symbolically. or when driving a car. that is attachment. or in the form of emotions. which can be either pleasant or unpleasant. The purpose of the practice is to eliminate the toxins of the body. identification. inner silence. Therefore. business colleagues. usually what happens is that you either become panicky or very happy.

spine erect. psychic sleep. or navel. This attraction and repulsion to your thought patterns should be carefully avoided during the practice of antar mouna. become potentially very powerful. you will also develop a dynamic personality. It is a dynamic state where the mind grows in the internal dimension. In yoga nidra. it is not a static entity. the fourth is gyana yoga. anything in life can fail you. sit in a cross legged position. of self-analysis. the third is raja yoga. He who knows the technique of stepping within and can spend 5 . but apart from everything else. the second is bhakti . and concentrate the mind on one of the psychic centres . the decisions you take. As they come. In the morning. nose tip.the yoga of wisdom. or we are repelled by it.the yoga of devotion. the yoga of meditation. These are some of the important aspects of yoga for our day to day life. Do this for ten to thirty minutes. we don't like it. you will not only experience tranquillity. we suggest not only meditation. of which hatha yoga forms a small part. Go deep and just try to be a witness. In human beings. life can fail you. relaxation is not a negative or passive state of mind. Next we come to the technique of yoga nidra. We have witnessed marvellous results through yoga nidra. a mantra or a symbol. We are either attached to a particular thought. the greater will be the volume of thoughts coming from the depth of your consciousness. Before meditation you should practise antar mouna to see what is happening to your mind. in which you do not sleep but you develop a dynamic consciousness through relaxation. restless. This is how deep seated tensions are released. it doesn't matter. the resolutions you make. Here is a simple technique which you can practise by yourself at home to release mental tension.the greater the impact of your practice. If the technique is practised once a day for half an hour. the thoughts you create.the yoga of the psychic body in man. Approaching perfection in life When we are discussing tensions and their eradication through yoga. and this mind is subject to evolution. Material things can fail you.eyebrow centre. there is one thing which every person should not fail to realise One may be a theist or an atheist. During this practice you relax every part of the body and then probe the mind to express the archetypes or deep rooted criminals of the inner consciousness. the consciousness is evolving and the speed can be accelerated by a practice of yoga called dhyana yoga.the yoga of selfless action. The first is karma yoga. In yoga nidra. Thoughts will arise . Then become aware of either the breathing process. and follow it. feel a sense of relief. There are four major branches of yoga. They go into the depths of the subconscious and in the course of time become realities. heart centre. but the entire system of integral yoga. The important thing is that we all have a mind.we become disturbed. That is called repulsion. eyes closed. There is nothing priceless in life except meditation. but not meditation.

at least ten minutes every day in the quietude of his own consciousness. such a man is approaching the state of perfection in life. 6 . he who is able to be aware when all the names and forms of this external existence have been wiped out and transcended.

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