Friday, June 25, 2010

Relaxation, Even When the Emotions are Boiling

It has been quite an extraordinary process for me to compose these few words that you are now reading! I knew I wanted to write separate blog entries about each of the words used in the title "Read, Relax Recognize." Having already written about "read," I was very, very interested in focusing my attention on "relax" and exploring what the word actually means and then trying to communicate what I had discovered.
Rather than pondering and analyzing and figuring out, I wanted to just let the interest in the discovery rest in my mind and then see what would emerge. You could say that I wanted to relax (yes, that's it) and let the insight effortlessly appear. Over the past evenings, when the work of the day was finished, I would sit quietly and attentively, letting things be as they are, calm and undisturbed, but intent.
Over and over again I would return to the interest..."What does it mean to really relax?" Evenings flowed into days and back into evenings, but nothing came, nothing came, nothing came. There were also some occasions where, amidst a busy work schedule that included a couple of dances with familiar old partners like impatience, anger and frustration, the thought would come up, "Well, shouting at the malfunctioning lawn mower is not a very relaxed response! Maybe I should postpone my investigation for a while until I get a grip on this."
But I knew better than to be fooled by such trivial distractions. Real relaxation is not absent even in the midst of the most troubled emotional outburst. How do I know this? I just have to let go of the anger and frustration by not running a story on them or pursuing the series of thoughts that proceed from them. When I lose interest in being angry and frustrated, I can see that nothing has fundamentally changed from when I was totally engrossed in the anger and frustration. The relaxation that seemed interrupted or distant is in fact wholly present and accessible, even if temporarily obscured.
Here's another wonderful discovery: we don't have to blame ourselves when our emotions have boiled over. Each moment is a new moment of opportunity to choose where we will focus our attention. It doesn't matter where our attention was two seconds before or where it has been for the whole of our lives; we can choose right now to rest in the peace that is naturally present...or not. The resistance to life, of which the anger and frustration are a part, happens right now, and the attempt to focus on the past and blame ourselves for what occurred then happens right now. It is really, really a choice as to where we will put our attention in that 'right now.'
Rather than trying to fix the anger or do all the things to become a non-angry person, we just relax and do nothing. Yes, that's right, we do nothing. The peace and calm that are recognized in that moment of doing nothing do not need to be acquired or produced. They only need to be acknowledged.
So, after many evenings of sitting quietly without expectation, something finally emerged, and I am now gratefully typing it out on this computer screen. If this offering is worthwhile and helpful for you, that is okay. If it is totally off-putting and does not reflect your own experience, that is okay too.
Relaxation means being at ease with whatever appears. Once we grow more and more accustomed to being easefully attentive to all appearances, we recognize the innate gifts that are present in us. But wait, "recognize" is the subject of the next blog. See you then!


  1. Thank you Scott for your relaxing insights! :D

  2. Scott,

    This is really beautiful and so supportive and timely as anger came roaring through this week and it took me a while to realize I had a choice of how to be with it. I love also what you said about getting a each moment being a new moment of opportunity. What a relief we will always get a second chance.

    with love and gratitude,