Deep Relaxation

But, first, a hush of peace-- a soundless calm descends;
The struggle of distress, and fierce impatience ends;
Mute music soothes my breast-- unuttered harmony,
That I could never dream, till Earth was lost to me.

Emily Bronte

Here is an exercise you can use to calm yourself or to help someone else to calm him or herself. This will be particularly useful in response to anxiety or illness. It should be read slowly and with patience and compassion. Give the person you are reading to plenty of time to respond to each instruction before you go on to the next sentence.

First, find a comfortable position. Lying down or sitting back in a reclining chair would be good. Adjust your clothing so that nothing binds you or causes uncomfortable pressure on your body. Close your eyes and just settle in and feel the position of your body as you begin to relax. Notice where it touches the surface you are resting upon. Notice the weight of your body as it presses into this comfortable surface. Adjust your position if necessary to allow your body the freedom to give in to gravity. Let the earth support you. You don't need to struggle to hold your position, gravity will embrace you and the earth will support you. Feel the beginning of deep relaxation as you settle in comfortably. Your body is easing into a state of deep relaxation and peace.

Notice any reluctance you may feel to letting go. Notice any hesitation you may have about allowing relaxation. Say to yourself, "I let go of my fears. I relax completely."

Take three or four nice deep breaths. Allow the breath to expand your lungs and your belly, and then let go of it. Be free to make a sighing sound as you exhale. Breathe. Breathe in peace. Let go of fear. Let your breath settle in to a nice comfortable pattern of inhaling and exhaling with total freedom. Your breath is free to move in its own pattern. The air is always there for you. Your body always knows when to inhale and exhale. As you relax, you will find that the pattern slows on its own and your breathing is peaceful and calm.

As you continue to breathe peacefully and calmly, imagine that a softly glowing white light surrounds your body. This is a light of peace. It is a light of health and healing. This wonderful light surrounds you and protects you. The light is of all that is good. It brings with it deeper relaxation. It protects you from any worries or negativity that may be affecting you. Let the light glow in your heart. Let it fill you with healing energy. Let it bring a deeper sense of peace and relaxation.

Now take your time and scan your body for muscle tension. One area at a time, you will turn your attention to your body and release any muscle tension you may find. Beginning with your right foot, you will work your way up your body releasing tension and accepting peace.

Direct your focus to your right foot. Put your whole attention there. Feel the sensations of your foot and toes, and allow any tension you notice there to float away. You may feel sensations like tingling, or pulsing, or warmth. Enjoy these sensations as a sign of the healing life of your body. Release any tension you feel in your right foot. Let it relax. Just relax.

Now direct your attention to your right calf. Feel the sensations in your right calf and let the muscles relax. Allow peace and relaxation to wash over your right calf and foot.

Now, moving up your right leg, pay attention to the sensations in your right thigh. Your thigh is home to some large and long muscles. Feel them there as you focus on your right thigh. Feel the sensations. Invite relaxation to your right thigh. As your thigh relaxes, your whole right leg becomes ever more relaxed.

Now attend to your left foot and toes. Feel the sensations in your left foot. Notice any tension there and let it go. Both feet now are very relaxed.

Draw your attention to your left calf. Feel the sensations in your left calf, and let the muscles relax. Allow peace and relaxation to wash over your left calf and foot.

Move your focus to your left thigh. Notice the feelings in your left thigh. Feel the muscles relaxing. Feel all the subtle sensations there. As your thigh relaxes, your whole left leg becomes more relaxed.

Both of your legs are quite peacefully relaxed. Both of your legs are taking a break and resting calmly and peacefully.

Now let this calm sense of repose move from your legs into your hips and buttocks. Let the entire lower part of your body feel very relaxed. Release any tension you may be holding in your hips and buttocks. Let the light of peace and healing glow in your lower body.

Now, moving to your hands and arms, put your attention in your right hand. Let your hand relax completely. It is at rest now with nothing it has to do. Feel the sensations in your right hand. Feel the healing energy flowing there. Let your right hand be filled with comforting light. Your hand is very relaxed.

Moving now to your right forearm, bring the same sense of relaxation to your forearm. Your attention is in your forearm and you release all the muscles there. Your right hand and forearm are very relaxed.

Notice your right upper arm. Feel its sensations and allow your growing relaxation to move there as well. As your right bicep relaxes, your whole right arm is as relaxed as can be. It is as relaxed as your legs and your whole lower body.

Attend now to your left hand. Let your left hand relax completely. Like the right, it is at rest now with nothing it has to do. Feel the sensations in your left hand-- the healing energy flowing there. Your left hand is filled with comforting light. Your hand is very relaxed.

Your left forearm, by now is also feeling very relaxed. Feel those muscles in your left forearm growing more relaxed. You release all the muscle tension and just enjoy the sensations of peace and healing.

Bring that relaxation up to your left upper arm now. Notice the nice sensations of life in your left bicep and allow the relaxation you feel in your lower arm to flow gently upwards to fill your whole left arm, just as it has filled your right arm and your legs and hips.

Now that both of your arms are comfortably relaxed, move your focus to your shoulders. Let the relaxation spread from both arms to your shoulders and neck. Take another deep breath and release it with a sigh, allowing the breath to cancel any tension you have built up in your shoulders. Let all those shoulder muscles go. Let them soften. Breathe relaxation into your shoulders and neck. Breathe peace into your shoulders and neck. Imagine that those muscles of your shoulders and neck are growing softer and more supple with every breath.

Now, moving up the back of your neck, let the relaxation flow to your scalp and the whole upper part of your head. Release any tension in your scalp and your temples. You feel the sensation there as signs of the healing that goes on in your body all the time. As your cranial area relaxes, your mind is at peace, and the peace of mind grows deeper and deeper.

You are feeling quite comfortable by now, and you let the feelings of relaxation and comfort move into your face and all the rest of your head. Relax your eyes. Relax your jaw. Relax all the muscles of your face and head. Allow your mind to settle into a deep sense of well-being.

Now let your peaceful feelings of relaxation flow down from your head and neck to the front of your torso. Place your consciousness in the area of your lower abdomen and feel the energy there. See the beautiful light that surrounds your body glowing in your abdomen. Allow calm and peace to descend on your abdominal area. Feel the warmth of your belly. Allow the goodness of the light to move up your spine filling each of your organs with healing energy. The light brings peace and balance.

In your mind's eye see the glowing light filling your whole torso and glowing especially bright in your heart and lungs. With each calming breath the light grows more comforting. The light cleanses your lungs of all impurities. Your breathing is easy and peaceful. Each breath carries the relaxation through your whole body. Your breath and the light become one, and together they fill your heart with all that is good.

Now in this very relaxed state take your time to enjoy the peace you may feel. Follow your breath and the light embodied in your breath as it reaches each part of your body. Scan again for any remaining tension and let it go. Feel your peace. Allow your mind to be still.

When you feel that you are ready, take another deep breath, open your eyes, clench your fists and stretch as you return to outer awareness with a new sense of clarity and peace.

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© 2001 Tom Barrett