by SHELLEY BRUCAR
Remember the 3-legged stool. The next tool for Relaxation is PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION, and that’s the topic for today. Here is another tool you have with you all the time – no expense, no special shoes!
Muscle relaxation is simply going through the different muscle groups in your body, from head to toe, tensing then relaxing each group of muscles. You can buy a recording that will talk you through it, or you can use the script below to talk yourself through it. If you find it difficult to relax at first, you may want to tense and relax each arm and each leg separately. Or you may want to go through each group of muscles two or three times. Don’t worry about it; with practice, you will get better and the effects will be enhanced. Just GO SLOWLY. After you practice, let us all know if this tool works for you.
“Winter Dream” triptych – Center panel is a scene from a dream showing cold monotones of Winter. Side panels depict movement into Spring with the beginnings of color and warmth.
Get into a comfortable position, sitting or lying down. Take several slow, deep breaths. As you breathe, review your day. Start when you woke up and mentally go through all the activities that followed – the pleasant and the problematic. Inhale deeply and slowly. Take even longer to exhale than to inhale. As you inhale, bring in good feelings. As you exhale slowly, release negativity and let go of your day. In with the good and out with the bad.
Now go through the different muscle groups in your body. As you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, tense and relax each group of muscles. Be aware of the tension and the release.
Start with your forehead. As you breathe in, lift your eyebrows to bring tension to your forehead. Then as you breathe out, relax your forehead. Next go to the central part of your face. As you breathe in, squint your eyes and wrinkle your nose to bring tension to these muscles. Now exhale and relax these muscles. Next, think about your jaws and cheek muscles. As you inhale, tense these muscles by pressing your teeth together and pulling back the corners of your mouth. Exhale and relax your jaws and cheeks, and feel the warmth flowing into your face.
Now focus on your neck. Breathe in deeply and slowly, and bring tension to your neck muscles by pulling your chin down toward your chest. Exhale and bring your head up, feeling your neck muscles relax. Bring your attention to your chest, shoulders and upper back. As you inhale, pull your shoulder blades back to bring tension to these muscles. Breathe out slowly, release the tension, and feel the warmth and relaxation washing over your body.
Think about your upper arms, your biceps. Inhale and bring tension to these muscles by pushing your elbow against your chair or into your body. Feel the tension in your biceps without involving your lower arms. Then relax these muscles, letting go of all tension. Next, focus on your hands and lower arms. Tighten your fists as you inhale to feel the tension in these muscles. Then exhale and relax the muscles. Feel the warmth flowing into your hands and arms.
Next, bring your attention to your stomach. As you continue to breathe, imaging a string pulling your stomach to your spine. Then exhale and relax your stomach muscles. Enjoy the warmth as your muscles loosen and unwind. Now focus on your buttocks. As you inhale, squeeze together and bring tension to your buttocks. Exhale and relax these muscles.
Now think about your thighs. As you inhale, bring tension to your thigh muscles by slightly lifting your feet. Feel the thigh muscles relax as you breathe out. Go to your calves. Continue to breathe slowly and deeply. Inhale and pull your toes upward to tense your calf muscles. Then exhale slowly and relax these muscles. Now focus on your feet. Curl your toes to bring tension to your feet. Exhale, uncurl your toes and feel your feet relax.
Experience the warmth and the complete relaxation flowing into all of your muscles.
Now scan your entire body for any remaining tension. Go through all the muscle groups. Start with your face and neck. If you feel any tension, breathe into that spot deeply. Breathe out and release all tension. Move to your hands and arms. Breathe in deeply to any tight spot. Breathe out and release tension. Move to your chest, shoulders and upper back. If you feel tension, breathe into that spot. Breathe out and release. Move to your stomach and legs. If you feel any tension, breathe into that spot deeply. Breathe out and release the tension. Focus on the sensation of complete relaxation. Feel the warmth throughout your body.
Don’t you feel GREAT now?