Relax

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The mindful Pause often reveals habit-driven thoughts or emotional reactions. The mind-body is agitated. To meet this experience skillfully, we need further support. The second instruction in Insight Dialogue, Relax, offers this support and reflects the important factor of tranquility. Relax embodies the practice of repeatedly choosing ease whenever we recognize tension.

The instruction to Relax addresses both the body and mind since they move as one. We can begin by bringing our awareness to those parts of the body where we feel tense. When we notice the signs of tension in the body— such as tightness in the belly or the sinking feeling of sadness— we can choose ease by allowing that tension to relax; our awareness can remain soft and present as the feeling unfolds. We do not need to identify with the sensations.

We extend this gentle awareness, this kindness, to thought and the mental component of emotions through acceptance. Acceptance allows us to remain with discomfort, fear, unhappiness, or judgments without identifying with these reactions or running away from them. Accept is to the mind as Relax is to the body.

Even with the best intentions, we don’t instantly obey the reminder to relax. However with patience and practice of this instruction, we replace the tendency to react in aversion to an unpleasant sensation or thought with kind acceptance. As a result, we replace old habits of continuing or amplifying tension with new habits of ease and letting go. In this way Relax heals what Pause reveals.

When sensations, thoughts and emotional reactions are met with receptivity and kind acceptance, with Relax, they lose their power; we cease clinging to them; we can respond appropriately instead of reacting habitually. This simple kindness to ourselves and others is a doorway to transformation.