When we talk about relaxation, what comes to mind are sleep, a massage, or dissipation of any physical or mental activity. Of course, everyone needs to find time to relax and that is why we sleep.

At night, we sleep to rest then we wake up feeling rejuvenated and ready for the challenges of a new day. What happens when we sleep? Our breath slows down minimizing the activity of our lungs which has a direct effect on the heart. The heart does not need to pump as much blood to the lungs. The slowing down of these two organs (which are always at work) also reduces the constant motion of our muscles or tension. From sleep, everyone finds some level of relaxation.

Relaxation of our physical body – our muscles and limbs – helps reduce motion in the body. You may think that if you are not moving, then your muscles are relaxed. Unfortunately, this is not true.  There is still a subtle motion going on through our muscular system, which is called tension. This tension extends all the way to a cellular level. If the bodily cells are active, then it is in motion using up our energy which leads to cell decay and a faster rate of deterioration.  When our body is constantly experiencing cell decay, it makes our immune system weak and defenseless. 

So, is sleep the only way to induce relaxation?

If you can manage to have deep sleep every day, where you are not dreaming, then the body may have relaxed well.  However, based on experience, most people dream.  Our dreams seem so vivid and real that it keeps our mind and even body at constant motion.  Having a nightmare, for instance, may have us waking up shaking and sweaty. But, with perfect relaxation, the cessation of motion in the cells of the body is achieved. 

How do we achieve perfect relaxation then?

Mental relaxation through a good meditation technique can induce perfect relaxation anytime and anywhere. You have attained true mental relaxation when you can control the flow of thoughts in your mind for as long as you want. You can, at any point in time, remove your awareness of your body and subsequently resume bodily consciousness.  You can remain calm in spite of difficult challenges and stress.