Contraction : the third yogic aid of meditation
To put it simply, deep contraction means- a willing stretch on body in a normal and natural way.
It also means doing some physical exercise daily.
But the physical exercise of deep contraction are very much different from what is generally meant by this.
When I say - physical exercise
it does not mean - jogging, aerobics, push ups, weight lifting or other physical drills etc.
Though these exercise also helps in keeping the body fit and healthy, they are particularly suitable for young and athletes only as they encourage muscle tensions in the average person for whom tension is usually already a problem. Further, they require more daily effort than anyone but an athlete is likely to be willing to make. Moreover they tend to tired the body and overexerts the hearts and arteries. One more disadvantage is that this physical routine emphasis on certain muscle groups while never involving others. The external muscular part of body gets the maximum of benefits while internal organs does not get the requisite amount of movements and massage.
In contrast to above mentioned physical exercise routine, deep contraction and its advanced stage of 'yoga' has been developed after closely observing the nature and
Animals unlike man know instinctively how to keep fit. Yet their secret is simplicity itself. It involves indulging in the most stimulating physical exercise there is- natural, spontaneous body movements This can easily be understood by taking the example of cat. The way a kitten relax in sleep and the way it wake up depicts the wonderful natural body movements. The kitten completely let go of every muscle thus becoming a dead weight in sleep or relaxation. When it wakes up, it stretch, yawn, slowly gets to its feet and arch its back, changing from a limp rag to a coiled string in no apparent effort. The tremendous economy of energy and movements gives the cat its peculiar grace and power. The yawn and big stretch are nothing than a kind of deep muscular contraction - a contraction that reaches every muscle group from head to toes. After awakening its sinews in this pleasant and satisfying manner, the kitten suddenly leap after a speck of dust, thus going from a passive contraction to active contraction. If you notice this , you'll find that the motion is effortless. An animal never tries to prove anything and moves for the sheer pleasure of being in motion.
In our highly civilized, urban and scientific world, we have almost forgotten that we are also just one of the millions of species of animals on earth. Our body is still a primitive body that gets affected by various ups and down of nature. Luckily there were people, who realized this and developed the art of yoga or deep relaxation by studying nature.
Yogis developed their exercising techniques by observing animal life.
Not only did they appreciate the genius for relaxation all animals possess. They realized that animals, utilizing their energies properly, sleeping at intervals around the clock, eating only according to need live to five times their maturity and keep their full vigor five-sixth of their life, while man and woman live to only twice their maturity and begin to lose their vitality half-way through. Carrying their emulation of beasts and birds to a logical conclusion the yogis became the exception to the rule. They learn enough how to turn to the simple and the primitive in order to re-discover the natural living and nature's laws.
Deep contraction is more or less a prolongation of natural instinctive stretches carried to the point where a person's whole mood and physique become
involved. There are many benefits of deep contraction. First of all, these exercise can be done at a very slow pace in a relaxed manner, thus never exerting the heart or arteries. They affects the internal organs of the body in a positive manner. When a muscle stretch during deep contraction, a lubricant called synovial fluid is immediately secreted helping disperse the waste matter which causes stiffness at the joints. The lymph flows more freely, nourishing and stimulating body cells. Blood circulation is improved.
Deep contraction routines when done with deep breathing tones the body, stimulates circulation and causes waste to be carried away and deposits of fat and calcium to be utilized instead of remaining nothing but dead weight. Moreover it does not require much time on daily basis. Only a 10 minute schedule, 3 times a day is sufficient. Moreover deep contraction can be done almost anywhere, in work place also.
As I mentioned earlier (in three yogic aids to
meditation ) that in order to learn meditation properly, you are required to make your life relaxed, simple and less demanding. A life in which the level of physical and mental exhaustion is at bare minimum. After Deep breathing and deep relaxation; deep contraction is the third step which you should include in daily routine. Now I am describing you a simple deep contraction routine which will keep you fit and active throughout the day. Once you adopt this 3rd step of Deep Contraction along with the other two aids, you will be able to greatly reduced the exhaustion level and more importantly you will begin to realize that your life is slowly-slowly (but permanently) becoming relaxed,
simple (not complex) and less demanding. This will ensure a congenial and perfect situation for trying meditation techniques on daily basis.
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