by Michael Ketterhagen
One of my chemotherapy chemicals that I am given once a week has a side effect of insomnia. Well, that’s what happens to me usually every Monday evening after my treatment. I lie in bed with the outside dark or moonlit and my mind is perfectly clear, thinking of all kinds of things.
Well, I learned that when I just relax and bring my mind to pay attention to one of the thoughts and follow the breath as it moves in my body that soon I am sound asleep. During this time in my life with the cancer, deep relaxation, like the kind that comes in massage or in a Healing Touch appointment, is a very important practice in healing.
During that deep relaxation the intelligence of our life force (our pranic body), which sustains our bodies, takes over and begins to repair all that is out of order. Deep relaxation like this is more important than sleeping, according the Yoga Tradition.
However, the task at hand during this very restless season of the Earth’s culture is to relax as much as possible. But, watching television or listening to streaming music is not enough of a relaxation practice because the mind is still super active.
Yoga says, “Just lay on your back on the floor in shavasana and feel the breath flow up and down the spinal column—down as you exhale through you nose and up as you inhale through the nose and feel it move up spine.” This practice is called the “Flow of Awareness Relaxation”. It not only gives our mind an opportunity to come into contact with our breath, but also we become aware of the life force (prana) that leads the breath through the body.
Another simple method of relaxation along with a restorative yoga pose is to recline on the floor with your legs upon the seat of the couch, putting a small pillow under your hips so they are a bit elevated. Then, we focus on the rise and fall of the abdomen. Mentally, watching this smooth, continuous, even movement of the belly brings the breath deeper and deeper and quieter and quieter. Stay there for about 10 minutes and experience the deep renewal of your body and mind.
All we need to is experiment with this 10-minute practice, staying as alert as possible (Try not to sleep!). This practice will reap incredible results, briefly allowing the body, mind and spirit to become one—TO BECOME YOGA. What was it like?
This is an easy opportunity to experience rest, especially during these restless times.