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Learning to relax will help you to control your anxieties and fears and the tension associated with them. Relaxation is generally easier if you follow these instructions:

1. The best time to listen to practice relaxation is during the daytime, when you are not exceptionally tired. Some even prefer to listen first thing in the morning before getting up. Experiment to see which is best for you. Just ensure that you are not so tired that you will fall asleep.

2. Practice in a quiet environment. It is important that there is no danger of being disturbed, otherwise a tension might be created in the subconscious mind, which could act as a barrier to the successful induction of relaxation and self-hypnosis.

3. If you are physically or mentally very tired on retiring to bed, then you may fall to sleep before your breathing practice works sufficiently. On such days it may be preferable to practice earlier in the evening.

4. Avoid practising immediately after a meal.

5. Set time aside to practice regularly to improve your results. Optimum frequency of practice varies with the individual, but normally every day is recommended. Maximum twice a day.

6. After the first week it is fine to practice on alternative days.

7. Lie down with your body in a straight line, feet uncrossed and eyes closed, or sitting upright with your hands in your lap or on the arms of the chair.

8. Enter your relaxation passively; don't think “I must relax”. Just let it happen!

9. There is only one way in which relaxation wont be effective and that is if you cease to practice it. Otherwise it is bound to succeed. It is only a matter of time, and that time will vary with the individual, and therefore cannot be estimated in advance.

10. The biggest obstacle to practicing relaxation regularly can be the subconscious itself. It may try to stop you practicing or relaxing - or even attending sessions! The reason for this opposition from the subconscious is that it does not like change which it sees as a danger or threat to its survival. Do not be deceived by this. It is not a reasoning mind. However, your act of improvement or survival (your relaxation practice, yoga practice, etc.), will demonstrate to the subconscious mind that the act is not a threat and it then withdraws its opposition.

SHORT RELAXATION (DEEP BREATHING)
Can be used anywhere; good for emergencies, i.e. at work:
Stand or sit comfortably,
  • close your eyes
  • relax your arms, shoulders and the rest of your body
  • inhale through your nose filling your lungs into your belly for a count of 5, hold for a few seconds; breathe out for a count of 5
  • repeat as necessary.

EXTENDED RELAXATION (TENSE AND RELAX)
Sit or lie in a comfortable position,
  • close your eyes
  • practice deep breathing
Begin to tense the muscles in your body, holding them for 3 seconds then relaxing them. Start at one end of your body and work towards the other end.

You can interrupt this process and return to carry out more deep breathing at any time.

Concentrate on the feeling you experience as you relax each muscle in turn.
The word 'Visualisation' refers to the art of mental imagery, using one's imagination to see a particular scenario, preferably a useful or helpful outcome.

Originally associated with the 'New Age' movement, creative visualisation dates back to ancient times.

The process begins with a relaxed state of mind and body. In this relaxed state you are more inclined to access your right brain functions which dictate your creativity, freedom of expression and imagination.

You can then create (creative visualisation) the images and scenarios you want to imagine. In the picture above, you can change the greenery of a forest to a particular colour, and you can change the height of the trees and the winding road. You could then imagine yourself walking along this road, exploring nature and breathing in the freshness of the air.

Some people like to incorporate other methods such as colour to enhance the experience. Again, using the example of the forest, you might begin to imagine breathing in the colour of this forest and use whatever properties this colour represents (blue is known to be a soothing, relaxing and healing colour) and breath this colour into a particular part of your body for a relaxing affect.

By experimenting with visualisation you can learn to use the power of your imagination to map out a course of action, or to weigh up options in a particular decision making process. For example, imagine what might happen if you took one option over another.

Many celebrities have used creative visualisation to achieve their goals. Athletes especially are known to use this technique to enhance a particular outcome. Some visualise themselves reaching the finish line in a particular amount of time. Others see themselves lifting up the trophy, even visualising the weight of the trophy or award.

Actors are known to see themselves walking out on stage in a theatre without feeling stage fright or sickness.

It is best to enlist the services of a professional if you are beginning visualisation, as with all practices, it is not for everyone and can take time and practice. Some people are more prone to experience enhanced feelings of fear and panic in a relaxed state, which is why hypnotherapy is not recommended for certain personality types or mental health problems.

Consult a local practitioner before embarking upon any therapeutic intervention.
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