There is a time to
be tensed and ready, and a time to be relaxed and atease.The more aware you become of the difference between these twostates, the more likely you are to be in the right state at the right time.This guide helps you practice switching from tensed to relaxed… orfrom something in between to even more relaxed.People are different. You will discover some suggestions that youespecially prefer. Focus on these, and do not worry about the rest.P. S. On some pages we respond to Flip s comments. Our repliesfollow this symbol:
AwarenessProgressiveRelaxationVisualizationshow this book is organized
Two ways to relax: unload or overloadDramatic shifts in our state of consciousness becomepossible at either end of the spectrum. At the beginningof this book, we share ways to unload stress by unloadingstimuli. Near the end, we explore ways to escape tensionby overloading your senses, perhaps by going whitewaterrafting or dancing in a packed concert hall.unload overload Change YourPatternsPhysicalActivities
1. Close your eyes2. Use
your breath to remind you to bepresent3. Three-step breathing4. Breathe into tension5. Walking meditation6. Write down what kind of person you wantto be7. Look at each human from a positive angle8. Progressive awareness9. Progressive relaxation10. Toe tensing11. Imaginary mini-vacation12. Look at this13. Perceive interconnectionscontents 14. Listen to crickets, waves or rain15. Make a circle with your eyes16. Eye see what you think17. Reach out to an… animal18. Convey affection19. Drop your jaw (and relax youreyes)20. Up against the wall21. Just stretch22. Be mobile23. Juggle24. Let the rhythm take you away25. And now for something completelydifferent
In 1908, an Austrian Psychiatrist
named HansBerger discovered Alpha brain waves. Todaywe know that people who have more Alphabrain waves experience less stress andanxiety.In 1929 Berger demonstrated that closing theeyes decreases sensory input and increasesalpha power.From an intuitive perspective, we know thatyour eyes collect vast amounts of information,all of which your brain must process. Thus,simply closing your eyes is one of the easiestand fastest ways to give yourself a refreshingbreak.Close your eyes
It is all too easy
to race around worrying aboutthe past or being obsessed with some future goal.But being relaxed depends on your ability tofocus your attention here and now.Since you breathe every moment of every day,your breath is a wonderful anchor to pull youback to the present. All you have to do is payattention to the feeling of air coming into yourbody and then being exhaled. That is it.Use your breath toremind you to bepresent
1.) Sit in a relaxed
position for a few minutes, and notice howyou normally breathe.2.) Inhale deeply and slowly, filling up as much of your lungsas possible. Pause for a moment at the top of the breath, thenslowly exhale.3.) Take a moment to observe how you feel. This is the mostimportant part. Look for any physical signs that your body isrelaxing. Do not force anything… just observe, and then takeanother deep breath.Keep going in this simple pattern of deep breathing andobservation for as long as you like. The longer you do it, thebetter you will feel.Three-step breathing Try this in a setting that makesyou feel safe, such as indoorswhere there are no eagles orhawks ﬂying above. If you crave slightly more structure than just be presentprovides, this simple breathing exercise may perfect for you:
Breathe into tension Pick just
one of your tenseareas, and breathe into that.When you feel some relaxation,you can pick another area, ifyou like. Wherever and whenever you recognize tension in a portion of your body, breathe intoit. No, we do not mean blow on it… visualize your breath moving through the tensearea. With each inhalation, visualize the fresh breath bringing healing energy thatloosens your tension. With each exhalation, imagine the tension leaving your body.
Walking meditation means to enjoy
walkingwithout any intention to arrive, writes Thich NhatHanh, one of the most widely read advocates ofmindfulness. (This essentially means to devote yourfull attention to one and only one thing.)He explains that during walking meditation, youabandon any intention of arriving anywhere. You justwalk.Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every stepyou take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking.You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take.Walking meditation Source: Resting in the River, Thich Nhat Hanh
Although you may have spent
years appearing to be ahard-charging professional or a conservative suburbanparent, that may not be who you truly are.Write down some aspirations in a private journal ornotebook. There is no pressure to get all your thoughtsdown on the first page. Feel free to take page after pageto explore possibilities.Cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers, orprint out images from online, and paste them into yournotebook – all to better help you visualize the personyou want to be. Keep at it. This may take many weeks,months, or even years. But the process itself feels good.Enjoy the journey.Write down what kind of personyou want to be
In an interview, the Dalai
Lama was askedwhether he ever feels lonely. He surprised theinterviewer by answering flatly, No.He explained that one reason for this was thathe tries to look at any human being from amore positive angle; I try to look for theirpositive aspects.Become more aware of how you look at others,and yourself as well.Look at each humanfrom a positive angle Source: The Art of Happiness by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
Once you become accustomed to
paying attention toyour breath, take the next step: become aware of yourbody.Start with one of the simple breathing exercises, thenwhen you are calm turn your awareness in turn toeach major part of your body. Do nothing more thanbe aware whether that part is relaxed or tense, orsomething in between. Do not try to change, just beaware.Move from your head and face to your neck,shoulders, arms, hands, chest, stomach, pelvis andbutt, thighs, legs, ankles, feet and toes. Pause at anypoint for as long as you like.Progressive awareness Your goal is to feel your bodybecome increasingly relaxed. Tofeel, you need to stay awake.
Progressive relaxation Source: American Lung
AssociationMove in turn through each of the following musclegroups, tensing one group and holding it for about tenseconds, then releasing the tension and relaxing whileyou enjoy the relief from tension. Do these in turn:• Raise your eyebrows, then release• Open your mouth wide, stretching yourjaw, then release• Scrunch up your face, then release• Bring your chin towards your chest, then release• Tense your right hand and arm, then release- Do the same for your left arm• Tighten your stomach, then release• Raise your right leg and tense it, then release- Do the same for your left leg• Take a few minutes to be aware of how all themuscles in your body feel. Just observe.
Toe tensing Source: University of
Maryland Medical Center, Sleep Disorders CenterIt may sound silly that tensing one little part of your body can help you relax, but thisexercise actually can pull tension out of the rest of your body. (It s a simpler version ofProgressive Muscle Relaxation.)1. Lie on your back and then close your eyes.2. Become aware of your toes.3. Pull your toes upwards towards your face, andhold the stretch to a count of ten.4. Relax your toes. Ten seconds later, repeatthe stretch. Do this a total of ten times.You can choose other single parts ofyour body and use this approachspecifically in that area.
Imaginary mini-vacation If you imagine
a pleasant scene, you tend to relax. If you imaginea pressurized situation, your body starts to tighten. In both cases,you are stimulating the nerve cells in your brain that react tosimilar real life situations.To relax, imagine a setting or experience you consider inviting. Itcould be a favorite beach, a special time with a loved one, a walkdown the winding paths of a small village, or simply theexperience of lying on your back in a field of grass andwatching the clouds drift by.Once you are comfortably within this imaginaryexperience, start touching things and payattention to how they feel. Sniff around…are there any distinctive scents? The moreyou engage your senses, the more real - andrelaxing – this imaginary escape will be.
Watch a free a river
flow, or gaze into acampfire. Lie on your back and stare at the cloudsas they float by.Pick something you find both entrancing andreassuring, and give yourself permission to donothing but gaze peacefully at it.Look at this
Many of the suggestions in
this book identify a source at the bottom of the page. Thisone does not, because we wish to share a personal observation that may or may not be ascientific fact.The longer we practice the sort of relaxation techniques described in this book, the morewe perceive a connection between everyone and everything. It is impossible to describethis perception adequately in words (no, it does notlook like a dotted line or a piece of string.)You just have to experience it for yourself.To do this, you need to open your mindcompletely. You temporarily set aside allyour thoughts hopes, fears, and preconceptions.Be patient… it takes a great deal of gentlepractice.Perceive interconnections
The vast majority of people
relaxwhen they listen to the sound ofcrickets, gentle rain, or crashingwaves. The same is true for thesound of a babbling brook.Whether you listen to the real thing,buy a recording, or simply imagineone of these sounds, focusing onthese soothing sounds is likely tocalm your mind and body.Listen to crickets,waves or rain
Ever notice that when people
try to remember a detail, they look up and away?This is because our eyes are literally connected to our brains. Knowing this, youcan use deliberate eye movements to dislodge from your mind an image orthought that is causing you stress.Just look down and to the right, without moving your head. Then look down andto the left, keeping your head still. Then circle your eyesaround three times in a clockwise direction. Finally repeatthe whole process, but at the end circle your eyes in acounterclockwise direction.The effect will not keep bad thoughts away forever, but itdoes give you enough of a break to find positive thoughtsand images to replace the bad ones.Make a circle with your eyes
Your eyes often reveal how
you are thinking.Neuro Linguistic Programming suggests that peopleuse three types of thinking, each of which influencesyour eyes to focus differently:• Visual thinking - you look up, to either side• Auditory - you look to one side or the other• Kinesthetic - you look down, to either sideSo, when we talk about our feelings, most of uslook down. When we recall what we heard, wetend to look right down the middle. And whenwe are visualizing something, we tend to look up.Once you understand this, you can wipe a negative image outof your mind simply by moving your eyes up and down; thisaccesses multiple levels of thinking and essentially clears yourhead.Eye see what you think Source: Reading Eye Movement in Communication by Ron Kurtus; school-for-champions.comTry keeping this ridiculousimage of Flip in mind while youmove your eyes up and down.Our bet is you can t do it!
The Delta Society is one
of many organizations nowdevoted to using animals to provide therapeuticbenefits to people. Their web site has dozens ofreferences to research studies documenting suchbenefits.For example, animals pull our attention outward; thisis especially useful when stress or worries cause us tofocus inwardly. Animals also provide anon-threatening, emotionally safe relationship.They offer unqualified acceptance. Finally,for most people the touch of an animal isa safe and reassuring event.Besides, they just make us smile.Reach out to an… animal Learn more at deltasociety.org
Arizona State University associate professor
KoryFloyd studies the therapeutic benefits ofexpressing affection. Being affectionate is goodfor you, he reports. Affection can be a simple,non-pharmaceutical, cheap way to reduce stress.Floyd s research reveals that thinking affectionatethoughts about another person is not sufficient toreduce your own stress levels. It is conveyingyour feelings that produces the positive result.So write someone you love an affectionate letter,tell them how you feel about them, or simply putyour arm around them. Where you take it fromthere is none of our business.Convey affectionSource: The Effects of Affection by Diane Boudreau; Arizona State University Research Publications - Winter 2006
For their size, the muscles
in your jaw arethe strongest in your body. In most people,they tend to be far too tense. You can relaxthem by simply rubbing the side of yourjaw with your fingers, and then openingyour mouth as wide as possible. Alternatethese two several times.Likewise, the muscles around your eyesockets and on either side of the bridge ofyour nose - you know the spot, peoplepinch it when they are tense - relaxbeautifully when you gently rub thesespots.Drop your jaw (andrelax your eyes)
Find a rubber ball or
tennis ball; the rubber ball isgenerally softer, so be careful if you use a tennis ball.Stand with your back against a wall, with one foot forward andboth knees bent. Place the ball between your back and thewall, and lean against the ball, firmly.Now move slowly side to side or up and down, so that theball massages your back. Many people enjoy focusingon their upper back, shoulders, and the area aroundtheir spine… but far be it from us to exert peerpressure on you.If you find an area that feels especially tight, lean intothe ball and hold it for 5-10 seconds. When yourelease the pressure, enjoy the feeling of relaxation in that area.At first, you may drop the ball. But with a little practice, you will get the hang of it. Just remember tomove slowly and gently. Of course, if you have back problems of any sort, please skip this exercise.Up against the wall Source: Smith College Information Technology Services, Ergonomics Program
Many people stretch because they
want to exercise. So they rushthrough the stretch.But stretching is one of the most relaxing activities you can do, especially if you take your time.Set aside 25 minutes for stretching. This may seem like a lot, but it will give you the luxury to be patientwith each stretch. Take the first ten minutes and do a cardio activity to warm up.When you stretch, remember to keep breathing. Only stretch to the point where you feel a slighttightness; never bounce or allow a stretch to hurt. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Do every stretch atleast twice; you will often see improvement the second time.Just stretch
Move.Take a long walk. Go
for a swim. Ski all day. Hike up amountain. Ride a bike. To enjoy significant benefits,do it for at least 30 minutes and go fast enough thatboth your heart and breathing rates increase noticeably.(As always – do not overdo it.)Be as mobile as you possibly can. In additionto the physical benefits of exercise, by changingthe manner and speed with which you move throughour physical world, you alter your perspective and literally changethe way your brain is functioning.On an anecdotal basis, we notice that the most relaxed people we meetgenerally tend to be the most mobile ones, too.If you are feeling down, getting out and moving can often be the best strategyfor shifting your system into a more positive state.Be mobile
From personal experience, we have
always foundjuggling to be an excellent way to reducestress and put a smile on our faces. Butnow a medical study in Japan hasformally documented this effect.The study involved women with a broad range of anxietydisorders. Half of the women taught themselves to jugglewith both hands, using beanbags. After six months, thegroup that juggled had significantly lower anxietylevels than the control group that did not juggle.From our perspective, juggling requiresconcentration and focus; it also causesyour eyes to move in a pattern that tends toclear your mind of any pre-existing images.Both help you to relax.Juggle
You are in a packed
concert hall. 18,000people are on their feet, swaying as one tothe rhythm of one of the world s greatestbands. The lights, the music, the energy ofthe crowd as it reacts to each new songand nuance… they all combine to createan utterly memorable and upliftingexperience. It is pretty unlikely you are inthe crowd thinking about submitting yourtaxes.If you are one of many people drawn tomusic, when possible give yourself upcompletely to it. Allow your body to moveunconsciously to the music, even if you doit in the privacy of your shower.Let the rhythm take you away
When all else fails, try
an utterly new experience.Go to fantasy baseball camp. Volunteer to build ahouse with Habitat for Humanity, especially ifYou have never before held a hammer. Take asinging for tone-deaf people class. If you are asenior citizen, volunteer at an elementaryschool; if you are young, volunteer at a home forthe elderly. Whitewater raft. Learn to drive atractor trailer. Take up knitting, taekwondo,or the ancient game of juego de pelota(but be careful, it can be extremely violent.)Each time you change your physicalsituation and your set of experiences, youalter your perspective. The result is a moreinteresting and satisfying life.And now for something completely different
Jim George and Bruce Kasanoff
created this guide.Jim is the author of Time to Make It STOP: The How of Now.It will help you relax just as fast as you can say stop.You can find it on Amazon here:http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615690742If you are near Los Angeles, Jim works one-on-one with clientsto help them figure out and get what they really want. You canschedule an appointment by calling (310) 306-2217.Bruce writes on LinkedIn about career and getting what youwant from life. You can find many of his free guides here:http://kasanoff.com/free-stuff/While the entire contents are copyright 2013 Jim George andBruce Kasanoff, you are welcome to share it with others.