Relaxation Technique

Systematic Relaxation

Fortunately, this relaxation technique provides us with a method for the renewal of nervous strength.  Simple as its procedure is, it results are amazing, and out of all proportion to the time and effort required to pursue it.  The avoidance of continuous activity is essential to the maintenance of health.

"Power through repose" is a very sound catchword.  The great American psychologist, William James, coined the phrase "the Gospel of Relaxation".  And a gospel (good news) indeed is the art and practice of this relaxation technique.

using a relaxation technique
Using A Relaxation Technique

A few minutes spent quietly each day can do wonders in the strengthening and quieting of the whole nervous system.  It can bring a new poise, a new steadiness, and a new power into human lives.

Systematic Relaxation Technique is easy for anyone who will take the trouble to observe one or two simple rules of method and approach.  On this page we describe, step by step, how it is accomplished.  Any time when conditions allow is suitable.  If you can manage it, two brief periods each day are recommended, one at midday and the other early evening.  Where circumstances will not permit this, the practice may be reduced to once each day; if no other opportunity is available, immediately before retiring to bed.

But to those who have once tried this relaxation technique, and have discovered how beneficial it is, will not wish to limit themselves to set times and periods.  They will practice it an the first opportunity whenever they are feeling at all worn or tired, and more frequently in times of any exceptional strain.

Now let us turn to the actual exercise of the relaxation technique.  Study what follows carefully; re-read it if necessary.  This is not something to skim through, but something to practice.

An Exercise For Systematic Relaxation Technique

If you intend to relax lying flat, lie on your back on a bed, not a couch.  You can, however, do practically as well by sitting in a moderately comfortable chair, with your back and head just lightly supported all the way up, so that you are bent neither back nor forward.

You must not be "doubled up" in a chair that is to softly sprung.  Use cushions, if necessary, to get the desired effect.  The instructions that follow assume you are using the sitting position, as the relaxation technique in such conditions is slightly harder than when lying flat.  But the principles given are adequate to cover both methods.

  • Sit well back in the chair, so that the whole of your backbone is supported.  You should be roughly in the shape of an ordinary bentwood chair.  Heels dug definitely on the floor.  The legs must not be thrust out, but straight down.  This is the preliminary position for relaxing.
  • The next step is to relax every muscle in your body.  Begin with your toes.  Just think quietly of them and imagine they are going "loose".  Think to yourself "my toes have gone quite limp and loose". 

    Now direct your thoughts to loosening the whole of your foot; imagine that, too, is quite limp.  Imagine this looseness to be traveling slowly over the whole of your body, starting from the feet.  Slowly, now.  Ankles, legs, thighs - all are going quite loose and relaxed.  Yes, now come on to the hips, the waist, the chest, the shoulders - all soft and free.  Now the neck, the chin, the cheeks, the forehead - let every muscle slip into ease.  Finally, the top of the scalp.  Imagine that even your topmost hair is relaxed. 

    When you have reached your scalp, your whole body should be as loose and soft as a piece of jelly.  If anyone gave your knee a slight knock, your leg would just "waggle" helplessly.  If someone lifted your arm, it would drop back limply just by it's own weight.  Allow this state of the body to remain while you go on to the next step.
  • Now do with your mind what you have done with your body.  Remaining utterly relaxed and loose, think quietly to yourself: "I am going to shut out all active thought from my mind.  As thoughts try to come in, I shall just brush them quietly away.  I shall brush them out; they shall not stay in my mind.  I will not think actively for a few minutes". 

    Having said this, concentrate quietly on some spot that, of all others on earth, suggests to you restfulness and peace.  (It may be a piece of garden, a tiny cove by the sea, a corner of a room, the dimly-lit sanctuary of a church - whatever appeals to you as spelling utter peace and quiet and loveliness).  Now hold the mind, quietly and gently, but definitely on to that: as other thoughts try to intrude, brush them gently away.
  • While you are gently attaining this mental and physical peace, begin to breathe softly, quietly and deeply.  Imagine you are breathing in from the pit of your stomach.  Breathe slowly, gently, deeply, throughout the exercise.

The exercise should be sustained for two minutes at first.  With a little practice, you will find it possible to keep it up for five minutes or longer.  If you have time for it, you will (again with a little practice) find it easy to slip off from the exercise into actual sleep.  Sleep so approached is the most restful and refreshing possible.

If you wish, you can combine auto-suggestion with the relaxation technique.  When you have achieved the quiet state, allow to flow gently into your mental picture of peace and quiet the following thought:  "My whole body is gaining strength and poise.  I shall come out of this with my nerves restful, and my mind serene and still.  New life, new power, new strength, are coming to me".

These thoughts should be gently and very quietly repeated in the mind ten or fifteen times.  Breathing all the while should be deep and slow, and the body entirely loose and relaxed when you use this relaxation technique.

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Other related pages at Relax and Sleep

Aromatherapy : Cures For Insomnia : Insomnia Cure Bath
Breathing Technique : Deep Meditation Music : Sleep Apnea
How To Fall Asleep : Insomnia Solution : Power Nap