"I experienced "the dark night" over about 6 months. I wasn't depressed or sad but had a great many physical symptoms that could be described as fear or anxiety. There were great waves of sensation followed by a tension and tightness. I tried a number of techniques to work with the body during this time but the most effective method I found was Patrick Baigent's mindfulness relaxation. It allowed me to be with direct experience in a very kind and gentle way - not trying to change anything but asking thoughts and muscle groups if any "unnecessary effort" was being made."
Nina Davies - Buddhist mentor
"Sometimes when I'm doing this approach, and it's actually having an impact, I find myself thinking 'oh yeah and I have to do proper meditation as well.' Then I realise my notion of meditation is so willful that I think if it isn't driven and disappointing it can't really be true meditation. It is a big a paradigm shift."
"I found this a really beneficial way of meditating. It's changed how I meditate. It really seems to work to help me relax. Relaxation meditation is like creating your own personal therapy space. As you relax you have to be present with what comes up. Because your body is held in a comfortable position, distractions are limited. It can be tough going, but to keep "being" with what comes up seems like the only way forward. We can't escape what's there, and reclining meditation seems to make a space for this."
Ruth Baigent - http://biodynamicmassage.wordpress.com/
"The Relaxation Principle is a book full of genuinely new insights and ideas. I’d previously thought of relaxation as just preliminary bodywork before meditation; now I see it as a path to Enlightenment! Vimokshadaka has a knack of using different practices and value systems to illuminate each other and cast a fresh look at traditional Buddhist doctrines. This book will be of great interest to those who are interested in physical principles and embodiment as a path to Enlightenment, as well as those interested in a theory of relaxation – an area where the author is a pioneer.”
Kate Honey – Composer and Zen Buddhist
"I have your book. It's excellent as well as important!"
"I was at your buddhafield qi gong classes. I really found them very useful, and the principles seem to have taken over my practice since. I've also read your book now, and was especially interested in the connection between the Hindrances and relaxation, which I've been looking at myself for some time now." - Ollie Pearn
"I am a serious amateur athlete and have been quite interested in what you have to say about effort - especially your phrase 'no unnecessary effort'. It chimes quite well with my experiences of dealing with fatigue. So some of the things you have been saying have really sharpened and clarified my understanding of what I was beginning to sense in some way about maintaining relaxed but powerful running style
I have noticed that if I am not awake, aware and committed to my run: the pain of fatigue gets expressed as bodily tension. My shoulder tends to tense up - as it did this morning. Or I find mental tension arises. I will start thinking about the government or some worry or insecurity will start to nag. Or I will become aware of the gap between my potential and my actual output and realise (with self dislike) that I am not really trying enough. I want the glory of a good half marathon time (I have done 1.23.50), but am bored by the necessary preparation.
When I get shoulder tension I know that this kind of bodily tension is bad for what coaches call 'running economy'. Maintaining a particular speed uses more and more energy if the body tenses up in response to sensations of fatigue. This is great if you want to burn calories. But not good news if you want to go fast and keep going fast.
I have tried telling my wayward shoulder to relax. So inwardly I request a relaxation there: there is usually no change. Then I order a relaxation:the tension remains. Then I demand a relaxation: It gets even worse. Then I try to relax it by sheer force of will: I get angry; I despair. Of course the tension remains unmoved - like a big stubborn knot refusing to go away.
So this morning during a long session of repeating one and a half minute sprints. I remembered your way of talking about effort and relaxation. 'No unnecessary effort'. Not the same as 'no' effort. You say no 'unnecessary' effort. If I pay attention I can sense the right amount. The right amount isn't the maximum amount. Or at least if I try to grab at more output I probably won't be able to sustain it for long.
What really struck me this morning was that the energy that was locked in to making in my shoulder stiff was - in a way - energy that 'wanted' to be in my legs. It 'wanted' to be propelling me forwards heroically and with grace. It had just got stuck there and was only causing grief because it wanted to have some real work to do instead of being stuck in my shoulder feeling left out. I have made it sound fanciful - but actually it seems to work some way like that.
I just decided I would mentally move my awareness away from the problem and in to my legs and thighs - to my pelvis and torso - and to the whole bodily architecture and strong rhythm of my movement. I would then just 'invite' the wayward energy to move outwards in to the run. Invite it to join with the energy that was already doing the right thing. My focus moved between it with the positive energies - the feeling of my legs and feeling of the 'bendy rubber band' of my effort output. It was like pulling a bath plug - I could feel the tension drain away - but distinctly it drained of its own accord in to my running effort and lead to an 'effortless' increase in speed.
Unlike willful speed bursts it did not lead to a tangible crash of fatigue moments later. All it took was watching for tension spots (or indeed negative thoughts) and inviting the energy in them back into the positive activity."
- Bernard Ryan