Week 4 Teacher Notes: The Physiology of Relaxation
7:00pm — Mid-Course Review
7:20pm — Bodyscan Meditation
7:50pm — What Happens When You Meditate
And remember, focusing on anything sensory will relax you, but it’s feedback from the body that lets you know where you are.
- “body felt like lead”
- “hands feel numb”
- “couldn’t feel my body”
Comments: Muscles soften and drop — the brain may interpret this as heaviness. Proprioception (our ability to sense where we are in space) only works when we move. Sitting still, our brain may interpret a lack of signals from the proprioceptors as nausea, vertigo, feelings that you are floating or numb, leaning to one side, moving, falling etc.
3. Aches and Pains surfacing
- “I didn’t realise how tense I was”
- “I thought I was fine..then I noticed this awful headache”
Comments: Stress the importance of welcoming the aches and pains and reassure students that with acceptance the pain generally dissolves, whereas resistance keeps it stuck. Use the analogy of a splinter (hurts when it goes in, hurts when it comes out – but much better to dig it out than to let it fester. This is a great analogy for meditation in general). A meditation can feel like a good massage. The loosening process continues even after you stop meditating.
2. Tingling or warmth on the skin
- “I felt warm when meditation”
- “hands feet became hot”
- Fingers may feel puffy
Comments: Improved circulation loosens muscles which become soft and pliable.
4. Changes in the breathing
- “My breathing became quite light and occasionally stopped”
- “My breathing was erratic. I had to sigh or take a deep breath”
- “I felt like I wasn’t breathing enough”
- “My breath felt deep and lovely’
- It eventually becomes light and delicate. It feels soft and spacious.
- There can be long pauses between breaths.
Comments: Breath drops by 12 to 15% during the first few minutes of meditation. It takes about 5 hours to drop 8% as you enter deep sleep.
In this sense, meditation is deeply relaxing. A state as close to hibernation as humans can get.
In summary a relaxed body tends to feel heavy, still, soft and warm, While these adjectives may seem vague they refer to precise sensations in the body. Muscles literally loosen.
Other signs of relaxation:
- Stomach gurgling / Increased salivation (signs of digestive system working – it doesn’t under stressful situations)
- Mild nausea, irritability, discomfort
- Fatigue, twitching
- An avalanche of thought
- Smooth flowing movement
- Other individual signs
Relaxation is a process – you gradually slip into it.
How to evaluate your meditation.
Ask “Am I relaxing?” Then look for signs:
- Heavy body
- Warm skin
- Being in touch with the body including its aches and pains
- Changes in the breath
Then ask “Could I relax more?”
At the end ask “Am I more relaxed? Does my mind feel calmer?”
Don’t hanker after perfection. A relaxed body ins not automatically pain free or filled with bliss – it’s just relaxed. Nor is a clear mind automatically happy – it’s just clear. Let got of expectation and comparison.
8:00pm — Impromptu Yawning & Stretching Session
8:05pm — Mantra & Affirmations
Week 4 Homework
On to Week 5.