Relaxation is the first principle in this series on effective body being. From my experience it is the key to the rest of the principles. I’m not sure if this is why Peter Ralston put relaxation as the first principle or not but relaxation truly makes the other principles easier to grasp.Feeling the whole body is almost impossible from a tense standpoint. Not only are you blocking out chunks of your own body from your awareness you are also creating a perpetual tension feedback loop with your nervous system that never ends. Until you consciously choose to relax your body/mind you will constantly struggle with feeling your whole body. Moving from your center becomes increasingly easier from a relaxed state. When your body is tense your movements are rigid and uncoordinated but once your able to deeply relax your movements become fluid. Your able to move with ease. Being grounded comes from letting all your energy sink into your dantien and the ground below you. When your tense especially in your upper body most of your energy is stuck in your head, shoulders, and chest. This then makes being grounded almost impossible. You become top heavy. By relaxing your body from the top of the head down your are able to sink your Qi and ground your body and mind. When you have a tense body you have a tense mind and vice versa. Being able to relax allows you to be calm which is the last principle of an effective body being.
Within the art of relaxing Peter Ralston talks about going through three stages of relaxation. From gross to subtle. During the first stage you send an intention to relax like dropping your shoulders or releasing a grip. This is more of a surface or gross relaxation. It feels good but unless you hold your attention on relaxing longer this stage is only fleeting. Once your able to hold your attention longer on relaxing you start to pass through the second stage of relaxation. In this stage your tissues start to relax deeper and your nervous system will react with an even deeper sense of letting go that spreads over your whole body. When your in this deeper stage of relaxation your mind clears and your sensitivity is heightened. Everything you do at this stage is done more effectively. You have better speed, balance, and range of motion with your body when your in stage two of relaxing. Going through to stage three requires requires letting go for longer periods of time, even continually. When you relax in this stage you’re relaxing your muscles to the core. To the point where unconscious tension will not creep back in. Your nervous system will be fully unwound and dramatically quicker. At this last stage of relaxation you will have also relaxed your mind which in turn changes attitudes, moods, emotions, and thought processes.
Going through these stages allow us to deepen our relaxation to a point where we become more graceful in any activity. Relearning how to relax is possibly the best “technique” we can learn for our Qigong and life. It all starts with letting go. If you are stuck in a habitually tensed body and mind everything else in your life will be stuck and tense. Just by bringing our intention to relaxing our body and minds we can unlock abilities in our bodies that we haven’t seen since we were children. Our minds will be more free to interpret each situation we are in from an understanding of openness and curiosity. Relaxing the body and mind are one in the same. Once one is deeply relaxed so is the other.