Relaxation

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

Yoga is a science of mental training. It is intimately connected with the evolution of human consciousness. Yoga can be practised by everybody irrespective of religion, caste, colour or nationality.

Every individual is in search of tranquility, peace of mind and balance. It is not possible to stop thinking. There is also the compulsion of society, civilization, and personal desires for acquisition and fulfillment. People are weak and have limited mental capacities, and on important occasions, when they badly need their services they may fail to help us. At critical moments they are seized with nervous disorders, obsessions, inhibitions and so many other mental illnesses. The personality is distorted and behaviour becomes unnatural and artificial and they feel so unhappy about it.

Control

Control does not mean suppression but complete mastery. If one has a car without a brake, one has a car without a controller. One may not feel the need for the brake but when it arises, the car, driver and passengers will be smashed to pieces. Likewise, everybody has a personality but at the same time one must have a controlling force so that one can handle the moments of serious challenge in life.

Yoga asks the practitioner to gain control over the mind. Yoga does not ask anyone to stop thinking. Control of the mind does not mean that one should refrain from one’s day-to-day activities. Yoga prepares one to face the challenges of life intelligently and cheerfully without leaving any wrong impressions on the mental apparatus.

Three types of minds

The process of meditation is of utmost importance. There are three types of meditation which evolved to suit three types of temperaments. The first type of people have mad and restless minds. The second type of mind is oscillating between the condition of restlessness and the state of one-pointedness. The third type is one-pointed. There are, in fact, many variations of meditation but all those systems can be classified into three groups.

Psychic sleep or yoga nidra is for absolutely restless people. Psychic sleep brings about a kind of complete relaxation to the disturbed mind. Another system called inner silence or antar mouna is a method of adjustment with the inner mind. If a person looks at a monkey, the monkey jumps upon him, and if one just ignores the monkey, the monkey will be quiet. It is that principle that we apply in inner silence.

For people of the second type whose minds are oscillating between two extreme conditions the system of ajapa-japa or spontaneous meditation is recommended. It also means meditation through breath. Another system is kriya yoga, which brings about a great change in the physical and psychological personality and gives peace of mind and one-pointedness.

Meditation is for the third type. When meditation becomes successful, psychological images come to the surface. When surface consciousness is relaxed in meditation, tensions, mental troubles, the whole suppressed subconscious stuff comes up in the form of visions and experiences. If the suppressions are deep, psychological images are frightening. When the meditation becomes deeper and deeper, relaxation takes place and many divine images present themselves in the form of visions and experiences. This is like the psychoanalysis of modern psychology.

Meditation is a system of relaxation, but mere sitting on a chair is not necessarily relaxation. This is a misinterpretation of the word relaxation. One may relax the physical body but the mind may still be quite disturbed. Relaxation does not mean sleep, nor does it mean physical stillness. Relaxation is a condition which pertains to the mind. When the tense conditions of the mind and emotions are absolutely absent, then one is in a state of relaxation.

—World Tour 1968, Australia