When the body and mind are deeply relaxed, healing can occur. Most people don’t even recognize how tense they are until they experience deep relaxation. Deep relaxation can restore the body and mind more deeply than sleep because when we practice deep, progressive relaxation, we are “consciously letting go.”
Relaxation teaches us to gather ourselves up so that we can feel whole again in the present moment.
Sleep is unconscious and while sometimes it can be deeply restful, many of us experience restless sleep when we are under stress. The practice of deep relaxation teaches us to let go of tensions in the body and mind so we are alert, awake and fully relaxed. The nervous system, the mind, the senses, and all the organs are allowed to settle. Relaxation teaches us to gather ourselves so that we can feel whole again in the present moment. We let go of wishing or wanting things to be different, and we settle into a deep sense of contentment. This feeling of contentment allows us to surrender to the moment. When we are not lost in rumination about the past, fears or concerns about the future, we can be here, now — fully present and deeply relaxed. It’s in this moment that healing happens.
How to Practice:
This exercise relaxes the body, and helps relieve high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, anxiety disorders, and other physical and mental illnesses. It promotes healing on all levels and can be practiced safely everyday for 10-30 minutes at a time.
1. Lie on the back, eyes closed. Position the body so you feel comfortable. You may want to place pillows under your knees and head for more comfort. Then lie still without moving.
2. Begin by inhaling. Gently squeeze the right leg. Exhale as you relax. Do the same with the left leg. Inhale and gently squeeze the right arm. Exhale as you relax. Do the same with the left arm. Now inhale and squeeze the muscles of the buttocks. Exhale as you relax.
3. Inhale. Expand the abdomen. Then let the abdomen completely relax as you exhale through the mouth. Repeat the same sequence with the upper chest.
4. Leaving the arms relaxed at the sides, inhale, bring the shoulders up toward the ears, and exhale as you relax. Inhale, bring the shoulders together in front of the chest. Exhale. Relax. Inhale and push the shoulders toward the feet. Exhale as you relax.
5. Slowly roll the head from side to side and allow the neck to relax. Inhale and gently squeeze together all the facial muscles, including the jaw, mouth, eyes and forehead. Exhale and relax. Using the mind, go through the body, mentally allowing each part of the body to relax even more. The feet, legs, hips relax. Hands, arms, shoulders relax. Buttocks, abdomen, chest, heart, throat relax. Spine and all the muscles in the back and neck relax. Allow all the muscles of the face and head to relax.
6. Now bring the awareness to your breathing. Without trying to change the pattern of breathing, just observe or feel the gentle flow of air as it comes in and out as the body and mind begin to quiet down (about l minute).
7. Observe what is happening in the mind. Just notice whatever thoughts or feelings come up, let them pass without trying to judge, suppress, or control them. (Allow 5-10 minutes of silence)
8. Gradually allow the inhalations to become a little deeper with each breath.
9. Imagine that you are breathing in light and healing energy as well as oxygen that is revitalizing and recharging the body and mind. Allow this energy to come in through the head, down the back, spine, and front of the body, the arms to the hands, and the legs to the feet. Let that healing energy or light touch every fiber of your being. Having a sense of healing that is deep and profound.
10. Slowly move the fingers and toes, hands and feet. Then gently roll the arms and legs back and forth. When you are ready, slowly roll over onto the side, bend the knees and then come to a seated position. You’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
How do you feel and what do you notice after deep relaxation?
(TASL) What’s More Restorative Than Sleep? by Susi Amendola, http://ornishspectrum.com/zine/the-importance-of-deep-relaxation-3/