Cost-free Professional Deep Relaxation Technique
Whenever many people are working longer hours just to get by, and many others are searching longer just to get a job, it becomes medically more important for people to become skilled at relaxing their bodies and calming their minds quickly and effectively, on a daily basis. Here is an exercise, based on the pioneering work of Dr. Milton Erickson, that you can learn to use in the next twenty minutes. While this method is easy to learn and use, it can be applied in almost any situation without anyone else knowing that you are self-inducing an alpha brain wave state. To follow is a fictional example that you can use as a reference as you apply the steps to the situation you are experiencing right now. Before beginning to experiment with this method, it is imperative to make sure that you are in a place where it would be safe for you and those around you if you fell asleep. This exercise is never to be used while driving or operating any machinery (not even so much as a battery-operated mini-fan.)
This method will require making comments to yourself within your own mind, similar to voice-over narration on a film soundtrack. If you already have a mental voice that prompts you to remember to take out the recycling on the appropriate night, and links what is happening now to memories of the past and projections of the future using words, then this exercise will use that voice. However, the exercise will narrow the space-time field of your inner voice to observations about what is physically happening in the present. If you don't usually experience inner commentary, then it may work for you to imagine that there is another (telepathic) person to whom you are mentally relating what you see, hear and feel whenever the exercise calls for a narrator.
While it is going to be all the more refreshing to you to use this method while you are at the beach, sitting under a tree or in some other beautiful natural setting, in order to highlight the basic techniques through contrast between your potential inner state and the state of your environment, let's suppose that you are dealing with a life situation like the one below.
Let's say that you live in an apartment with no yard and the single window looks out on the wall of the neighboring apartment. If snow is falling between your window and that wall, you may feel more rejuvenated during this exercise either by watching the snow or staring at your potted plant. (In a state of deep relaxation, even a little nature can go a long way toward refreshing the mind and spirit.)
However, let's say that right now, you are at work reading this blog in a partitioned cubicle with no window. The nearest potted plant is the artificial ficus out in the foyer.
Your first step is to look around for an object on which to focus. You may be tempted to choose your computer screen for two reasons: that's where your focus already is, and keeping your focus there will give your roaming supervisor the idea that you're hard at work. If the second reason is of import right now, you may have to go with the computer, but if at all possible, let's avoid eyestrain by searching for something three-dimensional.
For one reason or another, your physical desktop is devoid of action figures, framed photos, executive toys and beanie babies. But, down here, in this drawer, what is this under all of these software manuals? Why, it's a museum-quality pink rubber eraser. Even if it makes you feel a little silly, do all of the following: hold the eraser in your hand, smell it, feel its texture and temperature, really look at its details, and hold it next to your ear and rub it.
Now it is time to set down the eraser, close your eyes and imagine all of your sensory impressions of that eraser. What comes to mind first, the visual details, the sound of rubbing the eraser next to your ear or the way it felt? Let's say that your impressions came to mind in just that order. First, you remembered your visual impressions: the words "Pink Pearl" inscribed in faded cursive across its smooth face and the cut of its dashing parallelogram shape. Next, you recalled the soft yet insistent chaffing sound it made against your thumb as you rubbed it next to your ear. Finally, you thought of the schooldays smell of it and the feel of the uniformly rounded edges.
Now, it is time to set your internal narrator to tell about the eraser in that same format; first, sight, then, sound, then, feel. Some people remember textures, then sounds, then sights. The important point is to notice the chronological order that your mind uses for memory of sense impressions. When you have whatever order that is firmly in mind, you are ready to begin.
First, open your eyes, settle back in your nominally ergonomic office chair as comfortably as you can, then relax your eyes to a half-closed position. Visually, take in everything without narrowing in on anything in particular. Now, using a voice-over narration in your mind, tell yourself about three visual impressions that are prominent in your perception. For example, "There is the pulse of the malfunctioning florescent overhead light, there is my mouse, and there is the top of my knee." Or, using the object you first chose as a focus, "Here is the pink color of my friend the eraser, there is its name, 'Pink Pearl,' and there is the shape of its tiny shadow just beside it." Now, tell yourself to relax.
Next, have your internal narrator tell you about three sounds that you hear right now. For example, "There are the people in the next cubicle talking, above is the buzz of the light, and everywhere is the whooshing of forced air." You once again tell yourself to relax. (It is best to avoid telling yourself about sounds that you may associate with danger such as the sound of your supervisor's voice or the clunk of the aging elevator lurching into place.)
Now, to the physical feel of the place you are right now: "It is room temperature here, I can feel my feet sweating anyhow, and there is the smell of microwave popcorn just popped." Then comes the internal suggestion to relax.
Now, you go back through the visual impressions, but only tell yourself about two of them, then tell yourself to relax. Next, tell yourself about two of your auditory impressions, then repeat the suggestion to relax. Now, narrate two of your impressions of temperature, texture or smell, and tell yourself to relax.
Now, you narrate one sight, tell yourself to relax, narrate one sound, tell yourself to relax and, finally, narrate one physical feeling and tell yourself to relax. If you need further relaxation, you can choose a number over five and count backwards to one, repeating the suggestion to relax with each number. To come back to full waking consciousness, tell yourself that by the time you count back up to the number you have chosen, you will be wide awake, and repeat this with each number as you count back up.