The Root Cause of Tension

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In this and the previous lesson we have outlined simple but effective methods of inducing temporary states of relaxation1. Remember, these short-term relaxation practices are essential in order to rest and revitalize the entire body and mind. During these periods of calmness and clear-mindedness we are able to take a more realistic look at life. When we are relaxed we are able to laugh at situations that only half an hour before made our blood boil; we realize that our neighbour, who only a short time before had made us extremely angry, is not such a bad person after all. When we become relaxed we can see the same situations in a new light. And this more understanding approach helps to bring about positive changes in our life. We clearly see the problems that cause us disruption and work out new ways of coming to terms with our environment. (This process occurs subconsciously providing we are conscious of the factors involved.) This helps to give us a more relaxed and understanding attitude towards life and other people. For this reason, even a few minutes conscious relaxation can help us to remould our life pattern along more effective and harmonious directions.

But this only touches the surface of the problem of tension and the inability to relax. The root cause lies in the mind. The cause lies with conflicts and fears which are embedded in the subconscious mind and whose nature we are not aware of. All we feel is the tension and emotional upsets that they cause to manifest in our lives. We experience the results, often without knowing the source of the problem. The unhappiness and tension is a certainty, but the reason is an uncertainty.

No matter what people say there is only one method of eliminating these subconscious impressions (in Sanskrit they are called samskaras) which make life a miserable affair for much of the time. The method is to know the mind. We have to explore our own mind and come face to face with these subconscious mental impressions. This requires both time and effort. Most people cannot even consider exploring and knowing their own mind because first this requires physical and mental relaxation. This is necessary so that we can disentangle our awareness from the outer environment and petty problems and direct it inwards. And most people have so many problems that their awareness is completely involved in worries and outside distractions.

So it is a vicious circle: one has so many mental tensions and stresses making it impossible to explore the mind in order to remove the deeper problems which are causing many of the disturbances that prevent one exploring the mind in the first place. Is there a way out of this dilemma? Yes, there is and this is the subject we will discuss here.

It is a method that at first seems like a moralistic code or indoctrination. But it is only a means to an end. It is a means to bring about a little more permanent relaxation in a person's life, so that he can eventually start to explore the inner realm of the mind and remove the real source of tension. In a way, it is a method of giving a firm foundation for the medi-tational practices which we will introduce you to in this book.

It is such a very simple method, at least to explain, that many people tend to miss its significance. Of course to put it into practice is a little more difficult. It is a method where you try to consciously invalidate negative tension-creating thoughts with thoughts that are conducive to a relaxed and harmonious way of life. Let us take an example to illustrate more clearly. Try to imagine that you have been brought up to believe that all Eskimos are violent and ruthless. Because of this, even time you see an Eskimo, or a picture of an Eskimo, you will suffer some kind of emotional shock, perhaps not a great one, but there will be some kind of tension. Ifyou can look at this situation a little more critically however, and consciously start to develop the idea that he is a human being, not much different to yourself, then you will start to reduce the mental tension that arises every time you see an Eskimo. This of course is only an example and probably not a good one, for the problems that generally cause us disturbances are more personal in nature. Now this method will not remove the root conflict regarding Eskimos - this lies in the subconscious. But this consciously developed attitude will help you to relax more and eventually enable you to explore your mind and eventually remove the basic problem. This method needs to be applied consciously in all aspects of life. Of course it is only intel-lectualization and merely scratches the surface, but it is a valuable aid in allowing you to relax more and thereby lead you towards eliminating the deep subconscious impressions in the future. It is a tool, nothing more.

It is a method that has been preached by all the religions throughout the ages. When Christ, Buddha, Mohammed and various other religious leaders urged people to change their attitude to others, they showed deep insight into the basis of a happy, tension free life, the stepping stone to higher consciousness. When Christ said: "Love thy neighbour as thyself, it was not meant in a moralistic sense or only to bring about social harmony. This attitude is helpful in reducing mental tension and turmoil and so aiding our lives both mentally and spiritually. It is very practical advice. Of course on a higher level - love thy neighbour as thyself - is the state of realization that each person must come to when he has cleared out the mind and realized the unity of existence. But now we are concerned with its utilization at a lower level. The various injunctions of religions were aimed at bringing about mental relaxation and clear mindedness so that the individual would be able to become more aware and open to the infinite possibilities of life and consciousness. Relaxation is the door to health, happiness and higher consciousness.

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