A necessary preliminary for any form of self-investigation is a relaxed stance, a stable starting point. This may seem obvious, but it ain’t necessarily so. I have become aware that many of us go through our lives without knowing how to fully relax. There’s writing on meditation that talks about using it to relax. Well, not here, we want it to be a sharp tool for self-investigation, we don’t want to take the edge off it. Relax first, then actively take your measure.

So the first steps here concern how to relax, and different people find different ways of relaxation effective. If you don’t already know, you need to find out what works for you.

Ways to relax


Here’s just four different ways. Try them out and choose what works best for you. If none of them work find another or let me know. There’s nothing special or original about much of what I present here, it can all be found in many other places…

I’d most strongly recommend that all of these exercises are carried out when you are alone, in part to avoid distraction, but not least because some of it may make you feel that you look like an idiot to anyone watching, and that is rarely relaxing 🙂 You can also do them together with other people if you wish, but that should be an additional exercise.

Progressive muscle relaxation

This is a well-known technique that is referenced in many places, so only an outline will be given.

The idea is to progressively tense and relax muscle groups, thus releasing the residual tension that tends to accumulate in them.

If you want a guided session, there’s a spoken session available at [coming soon]

The puppet on strings

This has not been seen elsewhere, so may be an original approach. However almost everything has been invented before, somewhere.

Here the idea is to temporarily surrender control of the parts of the body. As the control is surrendered, so is the embodied tension.

If you want a guided session, there’s a spoken session available at [coming soon]


This may be a harder exercise — at least initially — but is very worthwhile, in conjunction with the ones above. The idea is to get to feel the actual present sensations of the body.

Here’s a guided session [coming soon]

Exercise and then stop

This is for those people who find other techniques difficult or ineffective, but it can also be called into play any time at all that some physical effort needs to be made.

Simply exercise, in whatever way you prefer, and then stop and shower, sit, note the relaxation in the body.

Ways to sit


Self exploration through the inward gaze takes time, and needs to be repeated until it bears fruit. You need to be comfortable while you are doing it, but not too comfortable — we’ll come back to that.

Being comfortable means that you need to sit down so as to be able to pay attention for some time, and here we run into some potential nonsense.

In the East people typically sit on the floor, on a mat or rug, with legs crossed.

In the West people typically sit on a chair.

You can do whatever is comfortable for you, but it does not matter in the least which you choose. The point is to sit comfortably as you usually do, without needing to give your posture any excess attention at all; you are going to need all of your attention for other purposes. The point is not to have to struggle with an unfamiliar and uncomfortable position that has nothing at all to do with your objective.

The lotus position does not in itself facilitate entering the apparent body. This is not a yoga class. This is about entering the apparent body to see what’s there, not about training the body. If you want to train that’s great, but it’s a separate exercise. Use whatever posture is entirely comfortable and usual for you.

If you are sitting on a chair or stool you need to find one that allows you to sit upright with your feet flat on the floor. You also need to sit rather upright, and not lean back on to the backrest if using a chair.

Source and credits: Unknown.

The reason for this is that the usual way that we go into the apparent interior of our body is when we go to sleep each night. If you lean back in a comfortable chair you may well go to sleep.

Sitting more upright is necessary whatever sitting posture you choose, for the same reasons.

Useful tricks

The I’s have it

There’s some ways of helping the whole procedure using cross-disciplinary tricks. We are seeking to be in charge of the process, not to submit ourselves to the control of a therapist, but there’s an eye posture from hypnosis that can be useful.

This is to look upward, not downward. Just try this out.


Without moving your head, look upward as far as you can without strain. Your aim is to be looking upwards a bit more than two thirds of the maximum extent that you can, but without any discomfort. Find out the point that you can raise the eyes to, and practice it a bit. You may find it’s possible almost to ‘slot in’ to a position.

Hypnotists use this technique when seeking to induce a ‘trance’. The upward gaze apparently reduces the adherence to the surface reality and facilitates focusing within. See if you can maintain this eye posture when attempting to explore ‘inside’, even when your eyes are closed. When you forget, and notice that you have forgotten, then just go back to it.

The breath of life

A second trick is concerned with breath and breathing. There’s lots of talk about breathing in meditation, but not much mention of this.

Usually the advice is to take a deep breath, slowly, and then let it out, slowly. The aim is to breathe using the diaphragm and breathe apparently into the belly, and not raise the chest.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay 

This is all very fine, and quite right, but while struggling with learning all this there’s a risk of drawing undue attention to the breathing — which stops it being natural. That causes tension. Tension is attention misapplied and cohered to its object, and we don’t want to be doing that.

The trick is this: instead of starting off with an IN breath, to FIRST BREATHE OUT. First, empty the lungs (within reason — no need to go into oxygen starvation).1

Then breathe in steadily, stopping when the chest starts to rise, hold it for a couple of seconds and finally breathe out steadily. Repeat this a couple of times.

When you lose your focus on the apparent interior that you are attempting to perceive — which will happen very regularly at first — then just re-establish your poise by again first breathing OUT, and then re-do the breathing as above…

  1. I want to acknowledge gratefully that the basis of this was first demonstrated to me by Barry Long. I’d suggest you go and see him, but he’s dead.