Being able to relax at will is essential for dealing effectively with stress, which is basically the internal dialogue (thinking) running on incessantly. This causes a physical reaction of anxiety. Still the mind and the body will calm down.
Relaxation is also good for health and well-being. The more relaxed you are in life, the better you’ll be able to deal with things. You are more in the flow.
To relax successfully you use your imagination to focus on every part of your body – from your brain to the tips of your toes.
Beginners might find this a little disorienting at first. Most of us tend to take our body for granted and to suddenly start focusing on every single part of it can seem a little strange. Don’t worry, this is only natural. And the long-term benefits definitely outweigh any feelings of disorientation you may get during the initial stages.
Here’s what you do:
- Lie on your back on the floor. Slip a pillow under your head and knees, and fold your hands over your stomach by interlacing your fingers. Take a few deep breaths, but don’t strain. Just breathe easily and calmly.
- Now visualize your brain. Everyone has seen pictures of it, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. Visualize the brain as clearly as you can. Try to see the brain – normally white and gray in color – becoming pinkish in hue. This automatically directs increased blood supply to it (which is very therapeutic). Do this visualization for a few moments.
- Next imagine that the blood – which has been warming and so relaxing to the brain – is flowing down to the forehead, eyes, and temples. Go through the procedure until you get a sense of inner warmth, tingling and relaxation. These are a definite sign that tension is being released.
- Now move your attention to your ears, thinking also of the middle and inner ears; then move your concentration to your cheeks and to your nose. Remember to pause long enough to feel the “tingling” sensation.
- Now focus your imagination on your lips, mouth, gums, and teeth; and then on your tongue, chin, and on the angles of your jaw.
- Next comes the neck. First visualize the windpipe; then the muscles and glands in the front, sides, and back of the neck. Imagine them being bathed in blood, and gently being warmed by its heat. Feel the tension flowing away.
- Now pass your attention to the shoulders and shoulder joints. Spend time on these as they are typically very tense in the modern stress-filled world.
- Let your concentration slowly wander from the shoulders, down the arms (one at a time), to the elbows, forearms, wrists, hands and fingers. Focus for a moment or so on each part, feeling the sensation of warmth and tingling there, and gently telling each part to relax.
- Return the imagination to the shoulders. Visualize the entire chest area, from the breastbone at the front to the spine at the back. Within the chest are several large and important organs – the lungs, heart and the great arteries and veins leading from it. Plus some powerful muscles lie between the ribs, which aid the breathing process. Just create a simple picture of the chest and begin to feel the blood slowly flowing into every artery and blood vessel, making the organs and muscles relax (this is an incredibly beneficial “internal massage” similar to certain techniques in Chinese medicine).
- Follow the same technique for the abdomen and pelvis area – which includes thinking of the organs you know to be there (but don’t worry about being anatomically precise). Feel the warm descent of the blood, and fully experience the sensation of aliveness this brings.
- Having relaxed the pelvic area, imagine the life-stream of blood dividing into two powerful rivers, each flooding down one hip and thigh. Again keep concentrating until you become aware of the muscles feeling warm and relaxed.
- Now pass your attention down to the knee caps, calves, ankles, feet, and lastly to the tips of your toes.
The whole process from head to toe will probably take about twenty minutes at first. Eventually, less time will be needed to become relaxed. In the end, simply deciding to relax will spontaneously remove the tension from all the muscles and tissues in the body. The more you do it, the better you will get at it.
At some stage, you’ll find you can do it without lying down. Which means you will be able to relax anytime and anywhere – on buses and the subway, at the office, or out walking.