That’s why I found it especially funny on my retreat earlier this month when our meditation teacher U Tejanaya asked us to relax while meditating, to not stop relaxing—in fact, to relax relentlessly. What an oxymoron, I thought! Yet he said it was one of the two most important things to do when meditating; the other was to remember that all that we observe is nature and impermanent.
His emphasis was on noticing what we are aware of without trying to change or fix anything. Not much energy is required to do this (see if you are aware you are reading right now—did it take much energy?). If we get tired while meditating, we are trying too hard. Practicing this way—whenever we remember, noticing what we are aware of—leads naturally to a strengthening of awareness. And not trying to change or fix what we observe can help us relax, and we tend to be calmer.
As our mind calms, and we notice equanimity, we can then also observe wisdom qualities such as interest, confidence, mindfulness, curiosity, acceptance, compassion, and so on. These are helpful to note; reflecting on these benefits of practice can help us arouse the energy to continue our meditation practice.
Since the retreat, when I feel that familiar energy of the modern world rushing along relentlessly, I smile and shift that energy to relentless relaxation. And then I can bring the attendant calm and wisdom to the situation at hand, perhaps acting more skillfully.