By Sister Jewel, Chau Nghiem At the Family Day of Mindfulness at Deer Park, the children led the deep relaxation for the whole sangha. It was so sweet! Here are excerpts from that practice.
Deep relaxation is a wonderful chance to allow our bodies to rest. When our body is at ease and relaxed, our mind is also calm and at peace. The practice of deep relaxation helps our body and mind to heal. Please take the time to practice it often— for five or ten minutes when you wake up in the morning, before going to bed in the evening, or during the middle of the day. The most important thing is to enjoy it.
Please lie down comfortably on your back. Close your eyes. Allow your arms to rest gently on either side of your body. Let your legs and feet relax, opening outwards.
- We begin by following our breathing. When we breathe in, we feel our tummy rise up. When we breathe out, we feel our tummy go down again. Our breathing comes in and out like waves on the ocean, very relaxed, very peaceful. Just notice the rise and fall of your belly.
- As you breathe in and out, become aware of your whole body lying down. With each out-breath, feel yourself relax deeper and deeper into the floor, letting go of everything: worries, fear, or thoughts.
- Breathing in, I feel my two hands. Breathing out, I completely relax all the muscles in my two hands. Breathing in, I feel lucky to have two good hands; breathing out, I smile to my two hands. My two hands are so precious! With my two hands, I can paint. I can draw.I can write. I can hold hands with my friend, and much, much more.
- Breathing in, I feel my two arms. Breathing out, I allow my arms to completely relax. Breathing in, I feel happy to have two strong arms. Breathing out, I let go of any tight muscles and I feel joy and ease in my arms. With my arms I can hug Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa. Now I can say thank you to my two arms.
- Breathing in, I feel my shoulders. Breathing out, I let my shoulders rest and give all their weight to the floor. Breathing in, I send my love to my shoulders and breathing out, I smile to my shoulders. Every time I breathe out, I feel them relax more and more deeply.
- Breathing in, I feel my two feet. Breathing out, I smile to my feet. I wiggle my toes, all ten of them. How nice to have two feet! With my two feet, I can walk and run, play sports, dance, and ride a bike. And when I am tired, my two feet love to rest. Breathing in, I stretch out my feet. Breathing out, I let my feet relax. Thank you, feet!
- Breathing in, I feel my legs. Breathing out, I enjoy my two legs. My legs help me stand up straight, each day a little taller. With my two legs, I can sit cross-legged or do the splits or walk back and forth to school. It feels so good to have my legs. Breathing in, I stretch out my legs. Breathing out, I let my legs relax.
- Breathing in, I feel my two eyes. Breathing out, I smile to my eyes. Breathing in, I let all the many muscles around my eyes relax. Breathing out, I send my two eyes my love and care. My two eyes are a gift! I can see birds flying in the bright blue sky. When I’m sad, I can cry and let the tears flow. Breathing in, I squeeze my eyes tight. Breathing out, I release them and let them relax.
- Breathing in, I feel my lungs grow bigger. When I breathe out, I feel them shrink. Breathing in, I feel so happy to have two good lungs. Breathing out, I smile to them with kindness. They bring oxygen into my body and give me the power to speak, to sing, to shout, to laugh. When I was just born, the first thing I did was take a deep in-breath. I breathe the fresh air into my lungs and breathing out, let them rest and relax. Thank you, lungs for helping me breathe!
- Breathing in, I know my heart is beating on the left side of my chest. Breathing out, I enjoy my heart and let it rest. With my in-breath, I send my love to my heart. With my out-breath, I smile to my heart. My heart keeps me alive and it is always there for me, every minute, every day. Breathing in, I know that my heart loves me. Breathing out, I promise to live in a way that will help my heart to be healthy and strong. With each exhalation, I feel my heart relaxing more and more, and I feel each cell in my heart smiling with ease and joy.
- Now, I bring my attention to a place in my body that may be sick or in pain. Breathing in, I allow this area to rest, breathing out, I smile to it with kindness. I know that there are other parts of my body that are still strong and healthy. I feel the support, energy, and love of the healthy parts of my body penetrating the weak area, soothing and healing it. As I breathe in, I know my body is a miracle because it can heal when it gets sick. As I breathe out, I let go of any worry or fear I might hold in my body. Breathing in and out, I smile with love and confidence to the area of my body that is not well.
- Breathing in and out, I enjoy the feeling of my whole body lying down, very relaxed and calm. I smile to my whole body and send my love and compassion to my whole body.Now the practice of deep relaxation is over. You can wiggle your hands and feet and slowly stretch. Then roll on to one side. When you are ready, you can open your eyes. Take your time to get up, calmly and lightly. Enjoy carrying the mindful energy you have generated into the rest of the day.
If you like, you can now sing a few relaxing songs or lullabies, or play soft music for a few minutes.
Now the practice of deep relaxation is over. You can wiggle your hands and feet and slowly stretch. Then roll on to one side. When you are ready, you can open your eyes. Take your time to get up, calmly and lightly. Enjoy carrying the mindful energy you have generated into the rest of the day.
Sister Jewel, Chau Nghiem is a nun living at Deer Park Monastery.