Restlessness: Winding Ourselves Up
Then meditate slowly
We may meditate, but we could still be suffering, still restless. Trying to calm down and trying to be peaceful can be exhausting! 😀 Why is this? All our life, our fixated ego clinging has been the centre of our universe, because it likes to feel important. It likes to feel it’s doing something. And so, pure conscious awareness has been captured and occupied for a very, very long time. This causes tensions in the mind and body … and in the subtle body.
We may feel, “Well, I’m just a bit restless today,” but it goes deeper than that.
Restless = ill at ease, tense, agitated, anxious, apprehensive, impatient, stressed, disturbed, troubled, unsettled, uncomfortable. We heat up!
Meditating slowly = calm, peaceful. We cool down!
When we become anxious, tensions arise in the body. These tensions leave a residue in our ‘subtle body’ where our feelings are held. Even when meeting people, this anxiety can arise in the body, triggered by past memories. It’s important to be aware of this ‘subtle body’, especially if we cannot settle in meditation. Stress can cause dis-ease; our health and wellbeing is in our own hands – or rather, minds!
It’s important to realise that certain methods and exercises introduced from the old East were meant to wake up our system, but in the modern world, these methods could have a negative effect because our system has already woken up – it is, in fact, overactive. We therefore need to calm down and rest in what we call ’emptiness’ genuinely doing nothing but being consciously aware. Not looking for anything, but just relaxed in being.
This is from Tsoknyi Rinpoche’s book, Open Heart, Open Mind: it’s a very short description of what is called ‘the gentle vase breath’.
“First, one exhales slowly and completely, collapsing the abdominal muscles as close to the spine as possible. As we slowly breathe in, we imagine we are drawing our breath down to an area about 4 finger widths below the navel. This area is shaped a bit like a vase, which explains why it is called the vase technique.
“Of course, we’re not really drawing breath down to that region, but by turning our attention there, we find ourselves inhaling a little more deeply than usual, and experience a bit more expansion in the vase region. As we continue to draw breath in and attention down, our “lung” ( pronounced loong) will gradually travel down there to rest. Hold the breath in the vase region for a few seconds (but don’t wait until the need to exhale becomes urgent), and then slowly breathe out again.
“Just breathe slowly in this way, 3-4 times, exhaling completely and inhaling into the vase area. After the 3rd or 4th inhalation, try holding a little bit of the breath (maybe 10%) in the vase area at the end of the exhalation, focusing very lightly and gently on maintaining a bit of lung in its home place. It may be a little uncomfortable, but the practice is worthwhile to calm one down.
“Vase breath is practised for 10 or 20 mins a day, and can become a direct means of developing awareness of our feelings, and learning how to work with them, even while we are engaged in daily activities.”
“The channels are the means through which what we might call ‘the spark of life’ moves. In Tibetan, these sparks are called tigle, which may be translated as ;drops’, or ‘droplets’ – an interpretation we are given so that we can form some kind of mental image of what passes through the channels.
“Nowadays, of course, we can begin to imagine these drops as neurotransmitters, the body’s ‘chemical messengers’ that affect our physical, mental and emotional states. Some of these neurotransmitters are fairly well known, for example serotonin which is influential in depression, dopamine, a chemical associated with the anticipation of pleasure and epinephrine (adrenaline), a chemical often produced in response to stress, anxiety and fear. Neurotransmitters are extremely small molecules and while their effects on our mental and physical state can be quite noticeable, their passage through various organs of the body could still be called ‘subtle’.”