A Buddhist Year


Many years ago one of my Tibetan teachers* answered my question about the meaning of profound emptiness (shunyata) by looking at me with a sly twinkle and saying, “Shunyata is relax!”

Stress and overwhelm seem as ever-present as our longing for effective relaxation. Many habits and methods promise to lead to relaxation, and some really do. Sometimes we are surprised by the way others find relaxation, e.g., by mowing the lawn. Are there any deeper truths we can point to, something we all share? During my years of working in this field I’ve come to believe that it’s very important for us to understand an important natural mechanism that regulates relaxation on a biological level: that is the powerful workings of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of our autonomic (i.e., self-regulating, involuntary) nervous system.


Our Nervous System
There are two main branches of our autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic…

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