"Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths."
- Etty Hillesum
One of the most important aspects you will learn as part of Qigong is relaxation. Relaxing is important to activate the body's healing response. Relaxing means to let go of tension and stress that is held in the body. It also means to let go of tension and stress in the mind.
Relaxing the mind allows for a deeper state of relaxation to occur in the body. So what exactly does it mean to relax your mind? The human mind is typically busy thinking tens of thousands of thoughts each day, most of which are the same thoughts day after day. On top of that, people are stressed out from work, the bills, the kids, their health issues, their families, etc. If you are experiencing similar thoughts, you may find it difficult to turn these thoughts off. Some have difficulty sleeping because they can't shut down the thoughts and worries.
If you learn qigong, you will learn effective techniques to quiet your busy mind. Here's a few techniques. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Focus on each inhalation and exhalation. You can even count your breath cycles. Inhale, exhale, one, inhale, exhale, two, inhale, exhale, three, and continuing for five minutes or more. Another simple technique is to repeat a mantra. That is to repeat a word or phrase over and over again. The word or phrase can be as simple as "calm" or "calm, peace, relax" or it can be a complete sentence like: "I am calm, peaceful and relaxed in all situations". Just make sure it is something positive and empowering. Keep in mind that your mind may wander, especially in the beginning. If this happens, just bring your awareness back to your technique (count, matra, etc). It is important to practice one of these techniques consistently one or more times each day. The more you practice, the quicker you will notice the results of focusing and calming your mind.
As you learn to calm and quiet your mind, you will begin to feel less stress. This is a sign your mind is relaxing. Now it will be much easier to relax your body. Now you can use a simple progressive relaxation technique to relax your body. You can start with your head; put your attention on your face and head. Imagine all tension releasing from your head. You can lightly tense your head and face and release. Feel the tension melting away. Repeat for your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, back, abdomen, pelvis, legs, feet, etc. You can spend extra time in areas that do not release. Once you finish at your feet, repeat the entire process two more times. Practice this at least once a day, following a technique to calm and quiet your mind. It is important to find a quiet place for your practice where you won't be interrupted. Sit in a comfortable chair. You can close your eyes, but don't fall asleep. If you tend to fall asleep, then slightly open your eyes. These simple techniques are quite effective. There are many other techniques in Qigong for training the mind and body to relax. Seek out a teacher if you want more information.