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Muscle Tensing Relaxation Exercise

Importance of relaxation

Relaxation is the opposite of tension. Many people are tense all the time and therefore do not know what a state of relaxation feels like. They are no longer aware of their tension. Most people think that relaxation is difficult to attain and not worthwhile the effort but once they are guided into a relaxing experience they become aware of what it feels like to really let go and become deeply relaxed.

Regular sessions in which one can attain a reasonably deep relaxation offer many advantages. In the short term, relaxation promotes well-being and lessens symptoms such as pain. In the long run, it lowers the chances of serious illness. A relaxed person will be able to cope with difficult situations easier and the relaxation will prevent the build up of uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Relaxation exercises can be used as a tool to control tension and enhance relaxation in both your body and mind.

 

“It is the nature of a great mind to be calm and undisturbed."

Seneca, De Clementia

 

Relaxation Exercise

One of the main activities suggested in this exercise involves alternatively tensing and relaxing muscle groups. Tighten each group of muscles and hold the tension for about 5 seconds, and then relax for about 30 seconds. While focusing your inner perception on the muscles just exercised, you will sense that the process of relaxation progresses a little after releasing the muscles. Let it happen that way and enjoy it.

To begin, assume a sitting position. It makes it easier to learn how to use your relaxation skills throughout the day if you practice while seated, rather than lying down. Sit with your back fairly straight, in a chair that is comfortable for you. Place your feet flat on the floor to help support you as you become more relaxed. Let your hands rest comfortably in your lap. Close your eyes so you can more easily focus on your internal sensations. Let yourself relax as deeply as you can right now……….

First, you are going to tense some specific muscles while letting your other muscles remain relaxed. Focus your attention on the feelings of tension that come from those tensed muscles. Then, you are going to release the tensed muscles all at once and notice how those muscles feel as you allow them to relax more and more. Note the sensations that come from those muscles as they relax progressively deeper and deeper. You will learn to be more aware of the difference between tension and relaxation and to let yourself relax more deeply anytime you choose.

To begin, tune into your breathing. Notice it’s pace and rhythm……….. Take another breath, a little deeper this time, letting yourself feel completely calm, peaceful, comfortable and relaxed………….

Now, with the rest of your body feeling more and more comfortable and relaxed, slowly clench your right fist. Clench it tighter and tighter and study the tension. Keep it clenched and feel the tension in your fist, hand and forearms. Now, let your hand relax and go limp, allowing your fingers to become loose. Notice the contrast between the feeling of tension and now the feeling of relaxation……………..

Clench your left fist. Clench it tighter and tighter and study the tension. Keep it clenched and feel the tension in your fist, hand and forearms. Now, let your hand relax and go limp, allowing your fingers to become loose. Notice the contrast between the feeling of tension and now the feeling of relaxation……………...

Let your whole body go and relax even more completely. ………….. Now bend both of your elbows and tense your biceps. Tense them hard until they almost quiver. Hold them tight and study the tension. Now let your arms straighten out and drop gently to your sides. Go limp, feeling heavy and relaxed…………….. Notice the tension leave your muscles and experience the relaxation that replaces the tension. Let the feeling flow and spread into the rest of your body so that you feel peaceful and calm. Feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed……………….

Gently shift your attention to your head and raise your eyebrows. At the same time, imagine pulling your scalp down to meet your eyebrows. Feel the tension in your forehead and up across the top of your skull. Release the tension all at once………… Just allow your forehead to smooth out……………….

Close your eyes tightly now. You can feel the muscles that circle your eyes as they tense. Now, relax……………… Let all the tension leave……………. Allow your eyes to rest gently while your eyes remain closed.

Now pucker your lips. Feel the circular muscles around your mouth work. And relax ………………. Clench your teeth. Let your lips remain relaxed while clenching your teeth. Feel the muscles tighten in the corners of your jaw and up into your temples. Relax now………. Just let your jaw hang slack, and let all the tension go out of it…………… Just imagine yourself humming a very low restful note that vibrates throughout your whole body.

Now tense the muscles in your neck that move your head back. While keeping those muscles tight, try to move your head forward so that you’re tensing one set of muscles against another. Keeping the muscles tight, try to move your head to the right and to the left. Hold it. Now, let the muscles in your neck relax all at once………………. Let the neck relax so deeply that if a breeze came along it would be able to blow your head from side to side …………………………

Move the points of your shoulders forward and together as if you were trying to touch your shoulders together in front of you. Now relax……………… and pull your shoulders back as if you were trying to touch the points of your shoulder blades together behind you. And relax ……………... just feel the relaxation spread down your shoulders and upper back…………..

Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly, just let everything go and allow the weight of your chest to expel the air from your lungs.  As you breathe deeply, feel your entire body becoming heavy, comfortable and relaxed. Take another deep breath and hold the air. Hold the tension. Now let the breath out and relax……………..

Pull your stomach in as far as you can and then push it out as far as you can and tighten your abdominal muscles. Hold the tension. Keep the muscles tight and tense, now let go……………. Relax………………….. The relaxation in your chest and stomach increases and you feel more and more comfortable, more and more relaxed…………

Arch your back and feel the tension along your spine. Hold the tension. And then relax……………………. Your body is feeling heavier and heavier and deeply relaxed.

Now tighten and flex the muscles in your buttock and thighs. You can flex your thighs by pressing down on your heels with your toes in the air. Hold the tension. Keep the muscles tight and tense, now let go………….. Relax and notice the difference as you let your hips and thighs relax and allow that feeling to proceed on its own until you feel completely and deeply relaxed…………

Tighten the muscles that move your knees together. At the same time, tense the muscles that push down and the ones that raise your thighs. Study all the tension. Relax ………………… now just let those muscles lengthen and smooth out. Feel the muscles gradually lengthen as they relax more and more………………….

Now, point your toes downward so that they are in direct line with your legs. Feel the muscles that are tensed in your calves. And relax ……………………Pull your toes up as if to touch your shins. Feel the muscles work up your shins. Relax now …………… just let go…………. Feel the heaviness of your entire lower body as you relax further still……………………..

You can become even more relaxed. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Just be aware of the air coming in and out of your lungs………………. Think the following thoughts to yourself. “I feel quiet………….I am feeling deeply relaxed…………….. My body feels calm and quiet …………………My neck, my jaw, my forehead are all calm and smooth……………..My whole body is heavy, comfortable and relaxed…………… My arms and hands are heavy and warm…………..I am at peace………………………” All your muscles from head to toes are smooth as you drift down deeper and deeper into relaxation.

Carry on relaxing and when you are ready become aware of your body again. Become aware of your feet on the floor and the weight of your body as it rests against the chair. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Take 5 deep breaths and feel yourself becoming more and more alert with each breath, more rested and refreshed. And, at your own rate, go ahead and open your eyes.

 

NZ School of Clinical Hypnotherapy

By Meeka O'Brien - Dip.Clin.Hyp.

 

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