"Just relax. Let go..." Lots of luck.
A New Meditation Instruction
Do not even try to relax. Do not even try to let go.
Welcome tension, anger, anxiety, with open arms. As the blue sky embraces clouds, do nothing at all but observe that anxiety. Give it space to intensify, solidify, expand and dissipate. You are the space in which that anger is boiling, you are not the anger. You are the space in which anxiety and tension arises, you are not the anxiety and tension.
But please do not expect a bright happy little "me" to be there when the anger and tension are gone. For that expectation is the real cause of your tension.
Isn't it frustrating when you hear a meditation teacher give you the instruction, "Relax... Let go..."? Can we get clear about this? If I am tense, anxious, angry, telling me to relax and let go is utterly worthless as an instruction. In fact, this instruction reinforces our ignorance, because it assumes that there is a "me" who has the power to relax and let go, or to cling and hold.
The instruction to "relax" and "let go" is doomed to failure because it assumes that after I relax and let go, there will remain this bright happy little "me."
But real meditation only happens when I'm willing to give up the little "me" along with its anxiety. The truth is, the effort to maintain a bright happy me was the cause of my tension in the first place!
Are you willing to become nobody in order to give your anxiety space to dissolve? If you are not willing to become nobody, if you are not willing to become pure empty space, there will always be a little "me" there to call the anxiety "mine."
If there is unhappiness, then there is a "me" at the center of it, clinging to "my" unhappiness yet at the same time trying to "relax" and "let go" of it. See the contradiction?
At least for the next 20 minutes, am I willing to be nobody? That is the only real question in meditation.
When "I" am willing to be nothing but this empty space, then "my" anxiety is free of a holder, a center. Tension is free to dissipate like a cloud in blue sky. Only then is revealed the real nature of this blue sky: compassion, peace, pure nectar.
The anxiety, and the bright happy "I" who wants to get rid of the anxiety: can't get rid of one without getting rid of the other.
Yes, it is impossible to "let go": but it is quite possible to shift awareness to the one who wants to let go. This shift of awareness is the real meditation.
Shifting awareness to the one who is tense means discovering that there is no one there to be tense. There is only a cloud of tension floating in pure consciousness. Then "I" dissolve into "Am." This is the only solution to the problem of tension, anxiety, and anger.
"For the enlighened yogi, the true relationship between the soul and God is not a relation of 'I' and 'Thou' but a relation of 'I' and 'Am'." ~Yoga Vashishta
This may sound very cold and impersonal as an intellectual concept. But as a direct experience, it is the final end of anxiety, the transformation of anger into bliss, and the portal to divine Radiance.