Collective wrote:Which meditation technique is the best for purely relaxation effects?
Being a stressful person, that's what I need more than any other
You need to practice samatha
techniques. For that, jcsuperstar's suggestion would be adequate.
The following quotation from Thanissaro Bhikkhu's book Mind Like Fire Unbound
is also indicative of this:
The first step is simply being mindful of the breath in the present:
There is the case of a monk who, having gone to a forest, to the shade of a tree or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, & keeping mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.
Then comes evaluation: He begins to discern variations in the breath:
Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short.
The remaining steps are willed, or determined: He 'trains himself,' first by manipulating his sense of conscious awareness, making it sensitive to the body as a whole. (This accounts for the term 'mahaggatam' — enlarged or expanded — used to describe the mind in the state of jhana.)
He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body.
Now that he is aware of the body as a whole, he can begin to manipulate the physical sensations of which he is aware, calming them — i.e., calming the breath — so as to create a sense of rapture & ease.
He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure and breathe out sensitive to pleasure.
(As we will see below, he maximizes this sense of rapture & pleasure, making it suffuse the entire body.)
Now that bodily processes are stilled, mental processes become apparent as they occur. These too are calmed, leaving — as we will see below — a radiant awareness of the mind itself.
He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes. He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes and to breathe out calming mental processes. He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind...
— MN 118
The above description/instruction will lead the practitioner into the absorption state. One can use the absorption state for the effect that you are attempting to achieve with your meditation practice. It will also strengthen mindfulness while creating the condition for clear comprehension to arise. So, be careful. You might come across some unintended insights along the way that may disrupt or distract you from your "relaxation."
"The gift of truth exceeds all other gifts" — Dhammapada, v. 354 Craving XXIV