In our culture yang (the active) is usually valued more than yin (the receptive). This leads to us needing to have more yin in our life.

Firstly, this means getting enough sleep. Secondly it means injecting a little more yin into our day. The worlds most popular way of doing this is meditation.

This is a brief introduction to meditation for the purpose of relaxation. There are many purposes for doing and different ways of doing meditation. Famously, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who popularised Transcendental Meditation, when he saw an article praising meditation as a way of relaxation, said, “How cruel”. However, for relaxation, for getting more yin in to our day, meditation is a simple and accessible.

Perhaps the simplest method of meditation is to count your breath. To not think about anything other than what you are doing – just counting your breath. It will help to have an even breathing rate, and the way to do this is to have a straight spine (either sitting in a chair with your spine straight and legs at a right angle to your hips and your feet flat on the floor, or you can do it standing (which is trickier), or sitting on the floor (if you are flexible enough)).

You will find that you will think about things other than counting your breath. When this happens you have a choice about what to do. Either just go back to counting your breath, or note what is happening by saying to yourself “thinking” and go back to counting your breath, or make a note of your thought, or – if it is a plan or something you need to do – get up and do it.

How long to aim for? Probably around 20 minutes (Herbert Benson, the author of The Relaxation Response, found that it takes about 20 minutes for the relaxation response to kick in.). With twenty minutes of counting your breath in your day you will find you are more relaxed and receptive throughout the day. You will have some balance to all the demands of yang activity which our society puts on us.

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