This exercise is designed for very deep relaxation. Just as with learning any kind of new activity, such as riding a bicycle or running, it takes a while to train your body and mind to respond in a new way. The instructions given here will help you achieve a balanced and effective relaxation response in a minimum of time. Once you have done this longer version a few times, you'll discover that you can enter a deeply relaxed state within just a few seconds by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.
First give yourself permission to take five to ten minutes to relax deeply, without having to think about other things you should be doing. Choose a quiet place and time of day when this will be possible. Loosen any tight clothing.
Sit in an alert, upright position in a comfortable chair with your lower back well supported, hands gently resting in your lap with your palms open. Or, lie down on your back with a small pillow under your neck and a pillow under your knees if needed for comfort.
Take a deep breath and exhale slowly, allowing your shoulders to be loose and relaxed.
Open your mouth wide. Yawn, or pretend you are yawning.
Let the areas around your eyes and forehead be relaxed and loose. Let the areas around your nose, mouth, and jaw be relaxed.
Breathe slowly and easily.
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If ideas or feelings come into your mind at this time, pretend they are a telephone ringing in the distance, perhaps in a neighbor's house. You acknowledge that "someone is calling" but you do not have to answer.
Take a deep breath, inhaling gently and slowly, imagining the breath entering your right nostril. Hold the breath for a moment, then exhale slowly and comfortably, imagining that you are exhaling through your left nostril.
Take another deep breath, this time imagining your breath entering your left nostril and exiting your right.
Focus your attention on how your breath feels: cooling, as it enters your nostrils, perhaps gently expanding your chest as it fills your lungs, then slightly warming your nostrils as you exhale. You may wish to visualize the air as having a beautiful, vibrant color as it enters and exits your body.
Repeat this breathing pattern until you have done at least four full cycles. A full cycle is one inhalation and one exhalation through each nostril.
With each cycle, focus your attention on one area of your body:
Be aware of your feet relaxing.
Be aware of your legs relaxing.
Be aware of your buttocks relaxing.
Be aware of your abdomen relaxing.
Be aware of your arms and hands relaxing.
Be aware of your upper back relaxing.
Be aware of your chest relaxing.
Be aware of your neck and shoulders relaxing.
Be aware of your head relaxing.
Now let your breathing pattern return to normal as you enjoy the relaxed state you have created.
Practice this relaxation exercise whenever the opportunity arises or whenever you feel a need to unwind and rest at work, at home, or in your recreational life.
If you have real difficulty relaxing and this exercise doesn't help you, I have some other suggestions:
1. Do something enjoyable that requires physical exertion -- walking, running, or playing lively music and dancing - - until you feel tired. Then lie down and relax deeply.
2. Play quiet relaxing music that you love while you lie down and let the music wash through you.
3. Listen to a guided meditation tape.
4. Take a meditation, yoga, or stress reduction class.
With practice, bringing yourself to a relaxed state will become almost effortless. You will most likely be able to deeply relax with just a few deep breaths. Like developing any new skill, you may have difficulty at first; as you practice, however, it will become easier.
Be kind to yourself. Don't push yourself or you may find the exercise more stressful than relaxing. Remember that you are preparing yourself to listen to what you already know.
(*Author's Note: This exercise was contributed by Hal Bennett and also appears in my book, The Path of Transformation.)
Developing Intuition by Shakti Gawain.
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About The Author
SHAKTI GAWAIN is an internationally renowned leader in the human potential movement. Her many bestselling books, including Creative Visualization, Living in the Light, and Creating True Prosperity, have sold more than six million copies in thirty languages world. She leads workshops internationally and has facilitated thousands of individuals in developing greater balance and wholeness in their lives. For more info, visit her website at http://www.shaktigawain.com.