technique of Deep Relaxation
The best position for Deep Relaxation is Shavasana - the Corpse Pose.
And the best place is the floor. Lie flat on your back, using a mat or
folded blanket to protect yourself from the cold boards. If for some
reason it is impossible for you to use the floor, then choose a hard
bed, preferably one with a wooden board. A soft bed will never be
completely satisfactory, for as it sags under your weight, certain
muscles will invariably tense up. Moreover, a soft bed might lull you
to sleep, and sleep is not what you are after at the moment.
You will probably not feel entirely comfortable when you first try
lying like this: The floor will feel too hard, you will find yourself
tempted to shift positions. But this you must not do, for in order to
relax muscle by muscle it is important to lie quite still.
Just remember that every body movement, every shift, however slight,
means a tensing of one or another group of muscles To avoid this, make
sure that you are lying comfortably, with your weight fairly evenly
Once settled take a few deep breaths from the diaphragm, then allow
yourself to breathe normally again. The next step is to get acquainted
with the muscles of your feet. Imagine that you have just swallowed a
tracer substance, and that your muscles are channels through which you
are watching it flow.
Now send an order along one of these channels. Breath deeply and
stretch a leg. Inhale deeply and stretch the leg hard, making all the
muscles along the way contract- and feel what is happening . you will
feel muscles, quite far away from the area with which you are
experimenting, contract in sympathy. If you clench your fist, for
example, you will feel contractions all the way up to your arm and
into your shoulder. If you flex your toes, ripples of movement will
tense the muscles of your thigh.
Now hold the breath as well as the stretch for a moment, while you
trace your sensations in details. Memorize them: next time you give
your arm an order you will be able to check whether or not it is being
followed. And now let go. Release the breath and remove the stretch.
As you exhale, let go all muscles of stretched leg loose. Repeat this
simultaneous process (of deep breathing and stretching the muscles)
limb by limb, until you have a nodding acquaintance with the various
groups of muscles through your body.
Now start the stretching all over again, but this time in slow motion
(i.e. make the process of inhalation and stretching slow) Build the
stretch up, slowly, like a cat arching its back. In the meantime let
that imaginary tracer substances show you, as clearly as possible,
every muscle you have put into play. Observe and note your sensation
for future reference. Hold the pose until you are thoroughly aware of
what is happening. Then once more in slow motion, let go.
It is this letting-go process that is the actual mechanism of true
relaxation. Think of yourself as a puppet without any strings to hold
it up any longer. Could anything be more limp? That is the stage you
are trying to reach, a relaxation so complete that you lose all
feeling of alertness.
As I have already said you are not likely to achieve such state on
your first attempt, or even on the second. Most people make better
progress when instead of trying to relax the entire body at once, they
concentrate on some part . Start for example, with an arm. Imagine
that it is a length of old rope Let the shoulder fall inert, heavy, on
the floor. Let the rest follow, all the way down the arm, until
inertia has traveled through elbow, forearm, wrist and palm and the
fingers feel like the limp ends of rope.
After doing this several times, start concentrating on your legs. Then
on your neck and spine. After a while relaxation will become a habit
and you will no longer need to think of specific areas, you will have
learned to relax the entire body as a coordinated unit. When that time
comes, you will be able to rest as you have never rested in your whole
life. you will find a totally new sense of well being; alertness and
A regular practice of this relaxation routine will make you
quite adept at doing this. Moreover, after you first feel thoroughly
relaxed, you will find yourself capable of repeating the process on a
deeper level - it is as though you had walked into a very quiet, deep
forest, rested awhile, then walked on to where the trees are denser
still and the silence deeper. In the end you will be on the very verge
of drowsiness, of total inertia, your mind virtually at a standstill.
When you reached that stage, you will be resting in every cell of your
duration of deep relaxation
Well the time span of deep relaxation varies with its quality. The
deeper the degree of relaxation, the more benefit you derive from it
and the less time you need. Initially 15-30 minute is sufficient.
Later on as you mastered the technique, you will able to draw enough
energy and relaxation from a 10 minute period.
terminate the exercise ?
Well your own body will tell you when it is ready to get back into
action. Remember, however, never to get up hastily or jerkily as doing
so will negates the benefits of deep relaxation. The proper way to end
a period of Deep Relaxation is to work your way down the muscles of
the body one final time; but now by reversing the process. Instead of
relaxing, restore tone control to each muscle group. Contract or
stretch it, then go on to another group until you have tested them
all. Conclude with one final luxurious, cat-like stretch.
Why it is
better than sleep ?
Please don't think that Sleep and deep relaxation are same in their
benefits. Sleep whether, at night or during catnaps, is a fine way to
rest the body. But it is the rare man or woman who relaxes thoroughly
in sleep. Most of us toss and turn, and so continue tensing our muscle
all night long.
Deep relaxation, on the other hand, since it is based on immobility,
ensures total rest. It is a conscious, willed process, controlled by
the mind which, in turn, relaxes thoroughly as the muscles begin to
sag. In sleep we are likely to be fatigued by the dreams which plague
our subconscious, for we all do dream, whether or not we remember our
dreams. But resting while awake, after having emptied the mind of
worrisome thoughts, means reaching a state of true mental repose. thus
half hour of deepest relaxation can refresh an exhausted person as
hours of fitful sleep never would.
learning about the two aids of meditation, let us learn about Deep
Contraction - the third yogic aid in meditation