How to relax?
That may seem like a strange question. But I have learned after years of teaching meditation, yoga and relaxation therapy a lot of people simply are at a loss when told to relax.
We hear the word all the time. We want to relax. Somehow there is a gap between wanting to relax and knowing how to get there for many. People generally do not know how to relax.
Learning how to relax first requires a willingness to slow down and tune in to your physical body and notice the busy-ness of your mind WITHOUT beating yourself up or jumping up to go do something.
It requires a willingness to feel a bit uncomfortable so that you can experience a shift.
Relaxing both the body and the mind is an un-winding process.
Do you remember the long, curly telephone cords attached to the wall phones we all had in our kitchens growing up, you probably how that long cord got all tangled. You would hold the cord, let the receiver hang upside down and allow the tangled cord to unwind.
The process of relaxing is much like that. The accumulated tension in the mind and body must to be given an opportunity to spin out in order to release and settle into stillness.
Here are 3 Techniques:
1. Go natural.
Begin sitting or lying down, closing your eyes and turning all of your attention to observing your natural breath. Just notice how the breath feels coming in through your nose and down into your lungs.
Then, see if you can allow your shoulders, face and belly to grow soft and heavy.
Next, see if you can allow your breath to deepen and notice how your belly and ribs expand as the breath comes in to the lungs.
Notice how those same areas of your body naturally contract as the breath leaves the body.
2. Count your breath.
Breathe in to a slow count of 5.
Hold the breath in for a count of 2.
Slowly exhale to a count of 5.
Hold the breath out to a count of 2.
Repeat 5 to 10 cycles while allowing the body to grow heavier and softer.
3. Tense and Relax.
This third technique is a progressive muscle relaxation process.
Lie down comfortably and bring attention to each part of your body starting with your feet.
Start by pointing your toes on one foot, tensing fully and then releasing tension. In your mind, once you release tension, take a deep breath and on breathe out with the word, “relax…”
Continue this moving your focus up your leg and up the rest of your body, tightening each muscle, holding the tension and then releasing until you have progressed to the top of your head. Do this on both sides of the body.
Once you feel yourself in a relaxed state, silently say “I am now relaxed….. I am relaxed…. this is relaxed….”
With regular practice, your mind will begin to recognize this relaxed state in the body and when you find yourself getting tense with stress during the day you can silently say the word, “relax…” and consciously soften your shoulders down and soften your muscles to return to a more relaxed state in your walk-about life.
Regular consistent practice of these techniques will help your body and mind to work together to achieve a relaxed state whenever you need it.
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