Thoughts on relaxation . . . to rejuvenation . . . to contemplation

Here’s a thought I had:

I have been putting great emphasis on relaxing recently.  I feel that it is very important and healthy and can lead to deeper things.  Because of this, I tend to have certain viewpoints about it . . .

Most people think relaxing is just relaxing but I look at it differently.  I would define relaxation in this way:  relaxation is the releasing of tension so that passion can work effectively.  This means that passion and tension must be understood (I will discuss these below).  What this shows is that there is an unhealthy quality that is created when tension disrupts passion so that it is not felt properly.

The sensing of passion causes a “rejuvenation”.  In other words, the purpose of relaxation is actually to be “rejuvenated” with passion.  To just be “relaxed” is like becoming like a limp vegetable . . . its incomplete.

In addition to that, if one continues deeper into relaxation then it turns into contemplation.  This means it turns into something else.

The subject of relaxation brings up two important qualities:

  1. Passion.
  2. Tension. 


Passion is a word that came to me about 30 years ago.  It originated from a sense of something like an “energy” in life.  It felt as a “something” that I couldn’t fully define and, frankly, still can’t fully define.  But it seemed to be a form of “life-sense”, a “something” that was everywhere and in everything and which had a “life” to it.  Another word I often use is “livingness”.  I cannot say what it is.  I also cannot say why I believe it is so important.  Its just a “gut feeling” that it is important.  Without passion things seemed dead, meaningless, worthless, etc.  In this way, one could say that passion is the energy, heart, or soul of life.  As a result, I tended to view passion as the foundation of life.  In this way, we could say that in relaxation we are seeking to rediscover the foundation of life.

This means, of course, that a person must have a sense of what passion is in order to seek it.  I cannot say how this is done as, frankly, it just appeared to me.  How a person in which it has not appeared begins to know it I cannot say.  My personal feelings is that most people do not know it, at least consciously.

The Conditions of Passion

The conditions of passion are:

  • Passion presence. This is a sense of being “immersed” in passion, that it is all around us.
  • Passion glows.   This is a sense of a “life-sense”, as a localized energy in a specific space.  In a way, its a “localized passion presence”.
  • Passion flows.  This is a sense of “movement” of the passion in space.

In relaxation we are trying to really retrieve all these conditions, in one way or another.  Much of how this is perceived depends a lot on how it is “sensed” . . .

 The “Sensing” of Passion

Passion is something that is “sensed” by a person.  This requires these things:

  • A passion to be sensed
  • An ability to sense it
  • A self to acknowledge it
  • An ability to react to it and use it

There’s a number of senses:

  1. A generalized sense.  This is an overall sense all about me, as if I am in a fluid (I often speak of this as the “primal fluid”).
  2. A localized sense.   This is passion being perceived only in an object.
  3. A flowing sense.  This is passion being sensed as moving among other things.  This is a more recent version
  4. An imagery sense.  This is a localization of passion in a specific image or object, like a god or spirit.

I tend to see the first as the oldest and original sense of passion.  As it progresses down the passion degrades and differentiates.  This would mean that the “god-sense” (a sense of a divine being), being an imagery sense, is actually a lower or degraded sense of passion. I believe that this is true.  That does not mean, though, that the “god-sense” is wrong.  Its just not as “pure” as the generalized sense. The fact is that passion is a hard thing to sense.  As a result, there is a tendency is to “scale it down” to a form that one can more easily associate with.  The “god-sense” allows this to happen in many people.

Passion has two basic “senses” in how it is perceived:

  1. The “life-sense”.  This is a sense of “aliveness” or vitality or energy.  This often creates a sense of the divine or sacred.
  2. A spatial/time sense.  This is a sense of the “life-sense” in space and time.  This often creates a sense of the eternal.

How it is “sensed” is often one of these or a blending of the two.

1 – The “life-sense”

Passion is  felt as a “life-sense” in ways such as:

  1. An undefined “generalized” sense
  2. A “thick” fluid-like sense
  3. A “tingly”, warm, or other sensation
  4. A heightened awareness, of a “livingness” in things

The former seems to be the oldest sense.  As it progresses down the “sense” goes through a degradation (see below).

2 – A Spatial/Time Sense

It seems, to me, that there is a close relationship between the “life-sense” and spatial relations. Time is actually a form of spatial relations as time is an awareness of thing from moment-to-moment.  

I seem to feel passion a number of ways:

  • An overall presence:  it is all around me like a fluid
  • Localized in me: it glowed like an ember with in me
  • Localized in an object: it glowed like an ember in an object
  • Localized in space: it glowed like an ember about me in a specific segment of space
  • Flowing without me:  it as if moved or flowed around me
  • Flowing within me:  it as if moved or flowed within me

We can see that these all describe strong spatial relations.  I have always emphasized the importance of spatial relations in awareness (see my article “Thoughts on the importance of spatial relations and the self – the creation of a “self-space” and its effects“).  I have always felt that space is one of the first awareness that we have.  This is one of the reasons why I think space figures so prominently in awareness.

The “Passion/Spatial Tension”

It seems that passion and spatial relations are the first awareness that we have.  But there is a conflict in these sense:

  1. A conflict between a general spatial sense and a localized sense in space.  That is to say they are polar opposites.
  2. That passion and space are not the same and have different natures.

When we try to define it in space we actually degrade it.  But life is made up of space.  Because of this, there is a tug-of-war between the all-pervasive quality of space and localized conditions of the real world.  This, it seems to me, creates some of the first tensions, the “passion/spatial tension”.

The Degradation of the “Sense” of Passion

The original forms of the “sense” is the “purist” form.  It seems to me, that to truly be relaxed one must go back to the earliest senses, the generalized (spatial) and undefined (life-sense) forms.  

Degradation of the sense causes passion to “split apart” by things such as:

  • Differentiation of passion into separate elements
  • Multiplies passion into different directions and paths
  • Confuses passion
  • Focuses passion on specific areas
  • Neglects passion in specific areas

Passion, the Self, and Origins of Passion

Passion is projection of pre-self, causing an awareness, which appeared as a “tingling” which is the origin of the “energy” sense.   This means that it originates from the beginnings of awareness.  Relaxation, as I said above, is a regression.  This means that I am speaking of a regressed awareness as the origin of passion.  What this means is that passion is really the awareness of existence in its earliest forms and that relaxation is the regaining of the sense of passion in a more pure sense

Early forms of passion has these qualities:

  • It is pure, unclouded, unfettered
  • It contains a hope
  • It is “living”

This gives it a very “sacred” quality to it.


Life, by its nature, creates a tension in us.  Overall, I’d say that tension is the preparation and reacting to the variable and unpredictable conditions and situations life.  Therefore, tension is actually a part of life and is a natural response.  It should not be looked at as being “unhealthy” or bad.  It only becomes that way if it becomes too strong or gets out of control.

Because tension is the “momentary and preparatory storing of passion to deal with a situation or event” it shows that there is an awareness of lacking in passion or full.

  • An awareness of situation
  • storing of passion
  • a sense of time something will happen
  • an awareness of a relaxed state versus a passionized state
  • mental imagery a lot of tension is stored by mental imagery

Causes of Tension

Tension seems to be caused by things such as:

  • An anticipation or waiting for an event
  • A concentration or focusing
  • A responsibility in handling, participating in events
  • A “preparing” for an event or situation
  • An intensification of mental abilities or actions
  • A tightening up of physical qualities like muscles

I think that the responsibility of dealing with life is one of the hardest tensions to deal with. In other words, the sense of responsibility in life hits deep.  It keeps demanding us to confront life and keeps pulling us into tension. Weaning oneself off of responsibility is something that takes a lot of time.

Types of Tensions

There are many types of tensions, which include:

  • Tension caused by imminent conflict.  This is a tension that is caused by a conflict that is currently taking place.
  • Conflict-based tension – of recent origin.  This is tension caused by an event that did not happen that long ago but which is “still on ones mind”.
  • Conflict-based tension – of old origin.  These generally tend to be unconscious and a person is unaware of them.
  • Conflict-base tension – of abstract origin.  This is when one is aware of a conflict but it is not happening.  Its something one “knows”, such as going to a doctor for a “mysterious pain” one is may think may be serious.
  • Tension caused by pressure.  
  • Tension as a participation in life.  The normal conditions of life cause the need for tension.  As a result, life, overall, tends to cause a tension.
  • Tension caused by awareness or mentally alert. 
  • Tension caused by “passion/spatial tension” (see above).

The tensions caused by conflict and pressure of usually somewhat superficial as they are transient events.

The deepest tension comes from the “passion/spatial tension”.  It is a tension that always exists and seems to be the base of all tensions.  After that is the tension caused by awareness.  As a result, when one goes deeper in relaxation one gets to these levels.  Tension caused by the “passion/spatial tension” and awareness just “is”.  It exists.  When one reaches this depth of relaxation there is a tendency to “not be aware” and there is a loss of self.  When one reaches this point one is going into contemplation (see below).

It appears that tension prepares one with the conditions of life by doing these things:

  • Storing passion.  It as if “holds” the passion in certain organs, such as muscles, which may tighten up.  This seems to be the physical manifestation of tension. 
  • Directing of passion.  It makes passion go into certain traits, such as anxiety.  This quality seems mental manifestation of tension.

In the normal healthy condition, this tension is “released” and disappears.  There are a number of stages for it to be “released”.

  1. The situation must be confronted
  2. The situation is reacted to
  3. The passion is expended
  4. The situation is fulfilled
  5. The passion  satisfied

When any of these stages is disrupted tension continues to exist.

This shows that in relaxation it would be more accurate to say that we are speaking of “prolonged tension” and not tension itself.  “Tension” really refers to a transient situation that is in response to a condition and disappears after that condition.  “Prolonged tension” is “tension” that is unresolved and continues to exist.  Generally, in relaxing we are trying to rid ourselves of “prolonged tension”. 

When tension is not released several problems take place:

  • The tension stores too much passion in a specific area
  • The tension has directed passion to the wrong area

This is caused by things such as:

  • Over-reacted tension.  This is caused when the tension is much too severe for the situation.
  • Frustrated tension.  This is tension that is not satisfied.
  • Unresolved tension.  This is tension that is not resolved and continues on.
  • Tension from habit.  This is tension caused by a habitual reaction.
  • Residue tension.  This is the “remnants” of all the tensions that one has in life.

The effect of this is that the passion tends to get bound up and in knots, the “tension knots”.  These tend to grow and grow as life progresses.  It causes many “tension residues” in life, which are the effects of these knots that affect our general life.  Some causes of these include:

  • Unresolved issues
  • An excited state
  • An absence of relaxation
  • An inability to react

“Tension Molding”

Tension tends to affect many aspects of life, such as:

  • Our mental state
  • Our awareness
  • Our perception and interpretation of life and its events
  • Our muscle tension (so that it affects posture, appearance, etc.)
  • Our physical organs

In many ways, the tension tends to “mold” us into a particular state or “form”.  In other words, tension is a major element in how we grow and instrumental in the make up of our “form” which could be compared to our character.  I would go on to say that a lot of what we become is created, or influenced, by tension in some way or another.  I speak of this tendency as “tension molding”.

It seems that, once tension has molded us into a form its hard to get rid of that form.  This is particularly true if it has existed for a long time or if we have grown a life that depends on that particular molding of tension.

The “Grasping Reflex”

There is a tendency to “grasp” at things in life.  I call it the “grasping reflex”.  This can be very strong and become very difficult to overcome.  To me, it often appears as a tendency to want to “have” or “possess” something that can be so strong that its like one is desperately scrambling for it.  Generally, we are grasping for something specific.  But I think that many of us are “grasping at life” or, rather, trying grasp for a perception of life.  Not only that, many of us don’t know what we’re grasping at.  In this way, many people develop a “grasping lifestyle”, of perpetually and endlessly grasping almost like a bunch of wolves.  In some cases, we can “kill ourselves grasping for things”.

When we grasp it tends to cause things like:

  • An intensification of passion energy
  • A concentration of passion in a specific location

The net result is that grasping tends to cause more tension and can make it more intense.  If it becomes a lifestyle we can grasp and grasp and grasp so that we compound it.

Relaxation as Regression

One could say that relaxation is the “undoing” of the effects of life (that is, tension).  In this way, it has a regression quality to it, as if regressing to the beginning of life, of starting anew with a “clean slate”, of a “starting over”.  Its almost like returning to the infant state.


I see several stages in relaxation:

  1. Relaxing
  2. Passionizing
  3. Reintegration

1 – Relaxing

One could say that relaxation is a “retreating away from the normal conditions of life”, to avoid the natural tensions that are a part of life, and then getting rid of the residue tension that remains.  In other words, relaxation begins with removing one self from the world.  This condition allows for these things:

  • A calming of ones mind.  The mind needs to be silenced.  No thought, no emotion, no reflection.
  • A calming of ones body.  This refers to the body being relaxed, muscles relaxed.
  • A “letting go” of an overall sense of tension.  This is getting rid of “knots” that continue to exist.

Oftentimes, relaxation can uncover unknown or forgotten tensions and conflicts.  In this way, one may actually get more tense as one relaxing.  Because of this, one has to put more effort to relax and it may become a struggle.  I often feel this is why many people will end up trying to relax.  Its like an uncovering of tensions, layer after layer, that gradually reveals more hidden tension.  This fact shows that a lot of tension is unknown to us and is as if covered up.

Sometimes, its surprising what makes us tense.  In many cases, the little things of life make us tense.  Often, looking at what makes us tense is reveals what is important to us.  It may entail things we never realized.  Sometimes its good to inquire of the conflict that causes tension because of this.

One could say that there are two forms of relaxations:

  1. Relaxation to a specific tension
  2. Relaxation to life’s overall tension

When one starts relaxation we tend to focus on specific tensions.  As we get more progressed in it, over time, it slowly turns into a relaxation of life’s overall tension.

Relaxing means an exposing of ones self, which puts one in a vulnerable state.  This means that we often go against the natural tendency of protection.  This exposing of self, in relaxation, can be difficult and hard to do.  Some ways to help include:

  • Try to reconcile the conflict or dilemma that causes the tension
  • Accepting the dilemma or conflict
  • Experience . . . the realization that most tensions aren’t that important

Relaxation requires a “letting go”.  This is a deliberate focusing of mind on the tension.  It entails an awareness of two states:

  1. The tension
  2. The absence of tension

In many ways, in relaxation, of letting go, you’re really trying to be aware of the absence of tension.   This may not be as easy as it sounds.  In fact, I think that many people cannot relax because they are not aware of what the absence of tension feels like!

A person must allow themselves to relax.  This may sound odd but its true.  Many people can’t relax simply because they won’t allow it.  This can be for a number of reasons, such as:

  • A sense of responsibility.  
  • They only know tension.
  • A feeling that relaxing is like walking into an abyss, the unknown.
  • By holding onto tension one has the illusion of control.  
  • A fear of conflict that hides behind some tensions. 

I tend to feel that a big part of relaxing is just allowing yourself to allow it to happen.  

If one relaxes to have no thoughts and emotions, and become physically limp, then one only becomes “empty”.  Its an illusionary relaxation.  Relaxation must follow with passionizing . . .

2 – Passionizing

Relaxation entails the “letting go” of tension, as I said above.  But the letting go of tension doesn’t cause “relaxation”.  Relaxation actually releases passion that is in knots and bound up.  Since passion is like an energy, it means that relaxation actually increases an energy sense.  In this way, this released and newly unbound energy often appears like a tension.  Because of this, there is a tendency to mistake passion with tension.  It has a resemblance to tension because it is unbound and without direction.  This unbound energy can create qualities such as:

  • Being tense
  • Worry
  • Nervousness
  • Fidgetiness
  • Being antsy
  • Uptightness

If one is not careful this newly released and unbound energy will sink back into tension again.  The trick, then, is to prevent this from happening.  In other words, one wants to get this newly released and unbound energy and direct it somewhere else.  I call this process “passionizing”.  This primarily consists of:

  • Being aware of this unbound energy and passion.  This appears as an energy that is not connected with anything.  In other words, a person must be able to distinquish between passion coupled with an object and passion alone.  This, I think, takes practice and experience.
  • Allowing it to “be”.  That is to say, you don’t do anything with the passion.  The “tension knots” are caused by directed passion.  In passionizing you do not direct the passion but let the passion “sit” . . . all you do is be aware of it.  In this way, passion is not bound up in knots and tension.
  • Having no thoughts, issues, or concerns.  The idea is to not have something to direct the passion in a specific direction and get in knots again.

To me, its almost like sitting there and having this passion or energy swirl about you.  The idea is to disconnect the passion from anything.

Often, the released passion can cause some problems, such as:

  • It can release a lot of bound up passion with a lot of energy
  • A persons character may not be able to deal with the new passion
  • The released passion can bring up whole hidden conflicts

This passionizing allows passion to do things such as these:

  • The dissipation of knotted, bound up, or stagnate passion
  • To remove passion from what it is bound up with
  • To make passion flow freely

If passion is allowed to be released but, if it remains unbound, it will find its way back to something and cause tension again.  As a result, the passion must be directed somewhere more fruitful . . .

3 – Reintegration

This means the reintegration of passion with ones self.  This, I think, takes a lot of time with the experience of passionizing and is a natural process that follows it.  In this process the unbound passion is allowed to “sink back into ones self”.  That is to say, when you are aware of it, in passionizing, it is removed from you and separate.  In reintegration it becomes a part of you.  

To me, a very important part of this is the awareness of two things:

  • Passion
  • Self

One must feel the passion as removed from ones self.  In reintegration, one is aware of both and as if let passion become “absorbed” into ones self.  In a sense, the self becomes like a sponge to passion.

The process as a whole and what it reveals

One could say that the whole process follows this pattern:

  1. The release of bound passion from many sources and origins
  2. The separation of passion into a “one” passion
  3. The reintegration of this “one” passion into the self

There are several significant point that this reveals:

  • All passion is “one”.  Passion from all tension is as if treated as if it is the same, even though it comes from different origins and sources.  This implies that any passion, regardless of its origins, is really the same.  
  • The self best associates with the “one” passion.

This shows that when we are born there is as if an “original passion”, a “one” passion.  But, as we live, passion is as if “split into a million pieces” and disintegrates.  This causes tension, knots, and such.  In relaxation we are as if trying to “put all the passion pieces back together again”.  We are, in effect, trying to regain the “original passion”.  As a result, relaxation is almost like starting over again in life, becoming much like an infant.  This creates the rejuvenation effect of relaxation.


I would say that the act of relaxation generally goes like this:

  1. The calming of mind and body.  Sometimes you may want to focus on mind or body specifically but they often go together.
  2. Becoming aware of tension in mind and body.
  3. The “letting go” of tension.
  4. Feeling what appears as a calm.  This is really an “aftereffect” of “letting go”.  There is a tendency to confuse this with being “relaxed” but its really an emptiness created by the loss of an existing tension.
  5. Feeling passion, which is like an energy and can replicate tension in quality.
  6. Being aware of the passion and “letting it be”.
  7. Slowly feeling passion reintegrate into the self.

To me, a person bounces around in the stages.  You don’t go from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on but may go through all the stages to bounce back to an earlier stage and start over, for example.  In some respects, the act of relaxation is much like a massaging of ones mind, body, and self.  Not only that, relaxation never ends.  This is because tension is caused by life which shows that life dictates the need to practice relaxing as an ongoing thing.  A person really never reaches an “ultimate state of relaxation”.

Some Qualities Needed in Relaxation

It seems that relaxation requires some qualities such as:

  • Physical calm.  This usually means sitting or laying down.
  • Reduce stimuli.  Close eyes, quiet place away from people and things.
  • Mentally quiet.  Having no thought or emotion.
  • Breathing.  Listen to ones breath.
  • Awareness.  The ability to watch for any tension and passion.
  • Abandoning.  The letting go of any tension you feel.
  • Openness.  Be open to passion that appears.
  • Embracing.  This means allowing ones self to embrace passion, in particular

Two Forms of Relaxing

There are two forms of relaxing:

  1. Mental relaxation
  2. Physical relaxation

Though these are both different they are, of course, related to each other.  But they often appear as two distinct and separate things.  Not only that, each entail their own specific problems.  These two can, at times, cause quite a dilemma.  They reflect the fact that there is a mental tension and a physical tension and they both need relaxing.  Being different, they may require two totally different techniques of relaxation.

It seems that when there is too much emphasis on one or the other form of tension then the tension is particularly strong.  In other words, when one is too strong one needs to focus on it until one feels the other quality.  For example, if one feels a physical tension one focuses on the physical tension until one begins to feel the mental side behind it.  In this way, we want to combine the mental and physical until they are one.  Often, by this union it loses its “hold” and appears as a passion removed from mental or physical tension.  In this way, one can feel passion.


As part of relaxation I’ve found that breathing is very critical.  In fact, I’d venture to say that relaxation rests on breathing and depends on it.  By “breathing” I mean being aware of ones breathing.

To me, relaxation begins with silencing ones self so one can be aware of ones breathing and then, throughout the process, breathing as if becomes the base or foundation of everything that happens.  Because of this, one must become very aware of ones breath and as if “sink into it”.

Being aware of breathing tends to entail:

  • An awareness of breathing.  This preoccupies the mental aspect of relaxation.
  • The physical act of breathing.  This preoccupies the physical aspect of relaxation.

Here we see that breathing entails the two forms of relaxation described above (mental and physical).  And so we that breathing causes an overall relaxation.


It seems that relaxation often tends to cause a visualization.  It can be as simple as an awareness of an “energy” in space to a fancy imagery, such as a specific object like a glow.

One of the benefits of visualization is that it causes a process I call “leading on”.  Basically, the mind moves attention, energy, relaxation, etc. to where you need it.  It does this a number of ways:

  • It moves the mind to areas that need to relax
  • It moves the passion to areas that need it
  • It uses imagery to emphasize a state, such as seeing oneself as a “glow” or like a “calm pool of water”.

In ways, such as these, visualization can help relaxation further.


I associate relaxing with the beginning phases of contemplation.  In fact, I tend to feel that, if one truly relaxes then one will automatically go into a contemplation.  Since contemplation is associated with things like Christian Mystical Prayer and Buddhist meditation it means that it is associated with it.

In contemplation one really regress to the state before the self, what I call the “pre-self” (see my article More thoughts on contemplation – its nature, its association with the womb, and other aspects associated with it).  This means that there is a loss of self and a regression to an earlier state of mind.  Since relaxing is like a “starting over” it means that  contemplation is really a furthering of the relaxing process. 

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Advice???, Aging and getting older, Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Life in general, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Relaxation and stress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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