Total Relaxation: an introduction by Brother Dao Hanh
Many of us are over-scheduled. Even the lives of our children are over-scheduled. When we can allow ourselves to rest and relax, healing becomes possible. There is no healing without relaxation.
In Deer Park Monastery and other Plum Village centres we offer guided lying-down relaxations of 30 minutes or more in our meditation halls. We are guided to follow our breathing and relax our muscles, allowing our body to truly rest.
In deep relaxation, we may take time to visit each part of our body in turn—the forehead, the jaw, the shoulders, arms, hands, belly, and so on—gently allowing that part of our body to release any tension that is there. We may take particular themes to contemplate the body, such as compassion, gratitude, wonder, or impermanence.
Relaxation brings peace, happiness and creativity. It is possible to incorporate it into our daily life—taking a moment to completely put down our burdens after a long day at work, or scanning our body for a few minutes before we go to sleep. In challenging situations, 5 or 10 minutes of full attention on our breathing and body, in the sitting or lying position, can be very helpful and give us the space and clarity we need to continue.
In the Buddhist tradition we speak of “mindfulness of the body in the body” (kāyānupassanā). It means we become aware of the body from within the body, through our felt experience of the body.
You can find many guided body scan meditations on the free Plum Village App: plumvillage.app/
Some years ago Thich Nhat Hanh shared:
“We think that when we are not doing anything we are wasting our time. That is not true. Our time is first of all for us to be. To be … to be what? To be alive, to be peace, to be joy, to be loving. And that is what the world needs the most. So we train ourself in order to be. And if you know the art of being peace, of being solid, then you have the ground for every action … because the ground for action is to be. And the quality of being determines the quality of doing. Action must be based on non-action.”
We hope this video introduction plus the guided meditations support you in your practice at home. Or with your sangha.
Enjoy your practice!
This is part of a series of introductions about the basic mindfulness practices in the Plum Village tradition.
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