Purposely relaxing the body and mind to achieve a much deeper level of relaxation than is normally possible can have powerful benefits for health and life. It's easy to learn and once mastered, can be done in many places, situations, and positions. However, to start, a quiet, dim room with no disturbances is best.

Lie down on a firm surface such as a rug on the floor or a thin cushion* with your body aligned as straight as you can make it**. A small pillow may be used for your head and a rolled up hand towel or other small support under the arch of your back is essential. Use any other supports needed for injured areas to prevent pain or discomfort.

Suggest to yourself  “I am completely relaxed and tranquil” a few times. Allow your breathing to shift to your abdomen (belly rises on in-breath and sinks on out-breath; chest stays still) and slow down; your breath may do these things on it’s own; if not, you can suggest – not force – that it do so, but don’t worry if it doesn’t. It likely eventually will on its own.

Muscles must be found before they can be relaxed, which is easiest to learn by tensing each area or muscle group and holding the tension for a moment, then releasing it***. The best order for relaxing the muscles of the body works from the head to the feet:
Facial muscles (eyes, mouth, etc.)

Blood circulation improves as muscles relax, often resulting in a feeling of warmth and/or heaviness, particularly in the limbs. This is fine, so just relax and enjoy it.

Set aside any thoughts that enter your mind while relaxing, gently letting them go. Tell yourself that no thought matters more than becoming relaxed and thereby improving your body, mind, and health. Nothing needs to be settled, resolved, or thought about while you are relaxing. Just let it all go for now. Everything can wait…

After mastering the skills, you can practice relaxing while reading or sitting straight at the computer (slumping increases pressure on the diaphragm and other internal organs and makes relaxed breathing impossible), waiting at traffic lights or on lines (do a quick body scan to look for tense areas and relax them), doing dishes, and, yes, watching TV. There are many opportunities to practice every day. Don’t practice relaxation in a situation in which it could lead to danger (such as while driving; being relaxed while driving is a good idea up to a point, but paying attention to doing a specific routine is too distracting). Always put safety first.

© 2016 Gloria Valoris
Adapted from a paper based on Autogenic Training by Mark Anstendig with his gracious permission.

* Too soft a surface will prevent the body from relaxing as deeply as on a firmer surface; on the other hand, comfort is important so experiment to find the right surface.
** Crookedness interferes with proper circulation, reducing the health value of the activity.
*** When muscles can be located without it, the tensing activity can be skipped.


© Gloria Valoris, 2015

Articles Index

Home | Newsletters and Articles | Services | Workshops | Resources | Contact

Office Organization | Time Management | File Systems | Hoarding