WHY USE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES?
When we are tense we tend to be impulsive, but when we are relaxed we have better judgment. If we are anxious, angry, or stressed, our breathing changes. When we focus on breathing it becomes difficult to be worrying at the same time.
Find a place where you can sit quietly and undisturbed for a few moments. To begin, you might want to set a timer for about 10 minutes, but after some experience you should not be too concerned about the length of time you spend meditating.
Begin by bringing your attention to the present moment by noticing your breathing. Pay attention to your breath as it enters and then leaves your body. Before long, your mind will begin to wander, pulling you out of the present moment. That’s ok. Notice your thoughts and feelings as if you are an outside observer watching what’s happening in your brain. Take note, and allow yourself to return to your breathing.
Sometimes you might feel frustrated or bored. That’s fine—these are just a few more feelings to notice. Your mind might start to plan an upcoming weekend, or worry about a responsibility. Notice where your thoughts are going, and accept what’s happening.
Whenever you are able to, return your concentration to your breathing. Continue this process until your timer rings, or until you are ready to be done.
During the body scan exercise you will pay close attention to physical sensations throughout your body. The goal isn’t to change or relax your body, but instead to notice and become more aware of it. Don’t worry too much about how long you practice, but do move slowly.
Begin by paying attention to the sensations in your feet. Notice any sensations such as warmth, coolness, pressure, pain, or a breeze moving over your skin. Slowly move up your body—to your calves, thighs, pelvis, stomach, chest, back, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, neck, and finally your head. Spend some time on each of these body parts, just noticing the sensations.
After you travel up your body, begin to move back down, through each body part, until you reach your feet again. Remember: move slowly, and just pay attention.
Use this exercise to quickly ground yourself in the present when you only have a moment. The goal is to notice something that you are currently experiencing through each of your senses.
Written by: Gabriela Fiszbein, LMSW