The importance of relaxation and how to relax when your inner world truly begins to unravel
We are called to lose our lives in order that we make take up a new life in Christ. When your life feels like a living hell, it probably couldn’t happen fast enough. But the reality of losing one’s life is that you have to die to the old life which will involve ways of thinking and acting that you are quite attached to. It would be great if we could just ditch the bad parts and dust off the good parts for a fresh start but it doesn’t happen that way.
There are phases to life on a real spiritual Path. Loosely described, you show up and hear some stuff that feels very true and personal, and a sense that real spiritual guidance is possible begins to awaken. Most of us at this point are aware of trials and struggles in our lives that we can’t seem to fix no matter what we try. The reason we can’t fix them is that we are essentially blind to how they are being created as in by our lack of consciousness. We are either looking for a cause to blame or else we realize we are doing it but for the life of us, we can’t see how. You can think of this as why Jesus cured a number of blind people in the Gospel. There are many times along the way when we need our sight restored and He was demonstrating that through His miracles.
A Teacher or Priest has spiritual sight, a gift that God endows them with so they might serve the souls of those who come. When the words of the Teacher resonate with you, you will feel drawn. Not everyone acts on that feeling so we never take it personally when people have amazing experiences and then never follow through. But those who do come back begin to feel the Grace of God working in their lives. This is God tempting you to explore a little further. You may notice that you feel better after church services or classes as in lighter and more hopeful.
When God sees that you are more committed, some of the harder work begins. This is quite simply because of what needs to happen in order for each individual to be completely free; they will need all their concepts and personal opinions to be exposed and sorted through. God doesn’t want to start that process until you have developed some trust with the Teacher and the process. When this part of the Path begins to kick in, we could say that things get hard. Our best coping mechanism is certainly not indulging in overeating, alcohol or drugs. We shouldn’t look to comfort ourselves by shopping or taking an exotic vacation or getting distracted by taking on a huge project. We must learn to relax while life is unsettled and uncomfortable.
In this lesson, we will talk about the importance of relaxation and how to relax when our inner world truly begins to unravel. Remember, if your inner world, meaning your concepts of what is right and wrong, your emotions, your reactions and the wounds of your past begin to erupt such that you don’t know what is going on, this is actually a sign that you are transforming. If you imagine slipping inside the cocoon when the caterpillar is midway through the process of becoming a butterfly, it probably would look like a gooey mess. In the midst of real change, things don’t generally look pretty.
It can be hard to continue in your day to day affairs when you feel your inner world collapsing. But God knows what you are going through and mysteriously can take your mind off these difficulties while you need to be responsible to your tasks. Praise Him for that!
Let’s approach the idea of relaxation as something different than sitting around with a mint julep on a lawn chair by the country club poolside. Sure, that sounds relaxing but the outer conditions will rarely be enough to relax a person whose inner life is falling apart. You might be able to forget temporarily about what you are going through but we want to go beyond this sort of superficial form of relaxation which might be better called escapism. True relaxation comes from knowing God. This is because life can only make long term sense when you know how the process of life works through God’s eyes. God sees the big picture and the long view whereas we are limited by the view in front of us which often doesn’t extend very far into the future (except when we project calamity).
Life follows a process of Birth (stage 1) followed by Growth (stage 2) and finally Perfection (stage 3). In the Perfection stage there can be pruning where certain aspects die because they no longer serve the greater purpose. This is the pattern established by God and we would be best to accept it as perfect. Something is born, it grows into a useful state and then it continually refines to approach perfection. We as souls are going through this process continually.
Just as certain things in nature tend to do better with the loving hand of a human, such as tending to plants and pets, so do we as humans do better when we allow the loving hand of God to shape and mold us. In the movie Buck, we watch a very patient, skilled and loving horse trainer work with horses to prepare them to be useful. Buck honors the wildness in the horse while also holding to a higher vision that the horse will be happier if trained and made useful. For us as souls, this process takes patience on God’s part and willingness on ours.
The way that God teaches you to relax is by giving you experiences over and over that demonstrate his faithfulness to you in your desire to be free. The Teacher helps you see what needs to change and you pray for it. Then you relax as the situations unfold which will allow you the experiences to bring about the change. In the hard moments, you breathe and try to avoid freaking out. The freak out is most often because you don’t know what is going on and you don’t know how you will get through it. The relaxation comes when you recognize you have gone through something similar several times before and it has always worked out. It might not have worked out in the timing you wanted or exactly what you were hoping for but if you are honest, you would say it worked out. This is applicable when you have included God in the process.
The best thing you can do is to implement a process for when you feel discomfort and knowing yourself, you might begin a spiral down into negativity. Recognize the mindsets that accompany the emotions. Notice how hard it can be for you when things feel out of control. Feeling uncomfortable and noticing you are bit worried is fine. It is one of the prices you pay for giving your life to God and asking that you might be made whole. It’s like when your friend or partner has a great idea and they want you to be a part of it. You don’t know what the adventure is going to be like but you can feel their excitement and faith so you agree to go along and see what happens.
Here are some reminders and tips that will increase your ability to relax.
- Relaxation is a learned skill that may not come easy. Take it day by day and don’t get upset if you are slow. Getting upset takes you away from relaxation.
- Relaxation is an expression of your faith in God who is Love. By building your life around Him meaning you pray frequently, you meditate to introspect and you devote your life in Service to God through Jesus and Mary, your faith will grow and you will begin to see that there is nothing to worry about.
- You can’t see where you are going all that often but you can decide which direction you will begin walking. Relaxation follows good firm decisions. Learn to be decisive at the correct times and communicate your desires to God in prayer. If you have a Teacher, share everything with them.
- Relaxation follows reliable information. If you open yourself to the opinions of people who know nothing or little about God, you can get easily rattled. The worldly life is not in sync with the spiritual life so if you seek worldly advice while trying to grow spiritually, you are inviting more conflict. Seek guidance from your Teacher who will teach you to get it from within. Then follow diligently.
- Notice what triggers you to slip out of a relaxed state. For many, it is when outer things happen that seem to disrupt our rhythm. This is going to happen and at inconvenient times. Being relaxed means you anticipate your reaction in these times and quickly rein in any reaction. Return to meditation and sort through what decisions need to be made and what actions can be taken. Do your inner work and follow it up with outer work. If you don’t you are choosing confusion, laziness and possibly panic over the Ways of God. This is a prime expression of negative feminine, allowing the emotion to create an inner anxiety and fear instead of acting reasonably.
- Make a habit of emphasizing and talking about the ways in which God has been there for you. Notice it daily and retrospect it in your evening meditation. Build confidence in how God works and how you get what you need over and over.
- Teach yourself to think in new ways such as, when trials and tribulations arrive, you will explore what is being presented and do your best to respond. Only seek to influence what is in your control and give the rest over to God. Dwelling on what is beyond your control will take you out of a relaxed state.
Learn to be grateful for the mysterious ways in which God is working in your life. If you could predict it all, how boring that would be. Seeing it all work out allows you the awe in God and for God to get the glory. Now that’s relaxing!!