WHAT IS THE RELAXATION
During a long time people thought that relaxing was not utilizing the muscles, when in fact that’s only to rest or to sleep, while the relaxation methods that produce a deep relaxation in the muscles, can produce great changes, not only in our muscles, but also in our conscious and knowledge states.
The fact of not moving, does not necessarily indicate that we are relaxed, it could just be that we are having our muscular system in balance. (1)
The reality is that we aren’t conscious of the huge muscular and cerebral effort needed to only maintain the same position.
For example, when a new happening drives us to a tension situation, that prepare us for the fight or escape responses; our muscular system reacts looking for a new muscular balance, in a higher level of tension. And the worst of it is that our body has such an adaptation capability, that after a while we just get used to that new tension level, and stop being aware of it.
Another interesting point to highlight is like Dr. Frederik Alexander said (2)
“The habit affects the functioning”
This means that when an individual develops an excitement and stressing state, even though afterwards he puts himself in a passive situation, that motionless state is only apparent and exterior, because on the inside continues the same agitation state.
This lack of resolution of the residual effects of the stress, through good relaxing methods, is what makes people say that they have intended to relax themselves many times, but have never succeeded, what must be understood not as the impossibility to relax, but as the use of inadequate relaxing methods.
Until 1908 people thought that relaxing was the pleasure state derived from fun, but on that year the physiologist Edmund Jacobson (3) started on Harvard his investigations, and in 1920 concluded that:
Stress is so important that most of the illnesses that we know are produced by stress excess
Jacobson also discovered that there was a big connection between our muscles relaxation and our mental and emotional states; being able to demonstrate the relationship between our imagination and our muscular tension states.
Today we can say that to learn how to control our muscular tension is our biggest defense against the numerous family of the psychosomatic illnesses
It was precisely Jacobson who noticed for the first time, that staying immobile wasn’t a synonym of relaxation, but that we can be tense even in our most immobile states, as the moment when we sleep.
It was also Jacobson the one that could finally establish the connection between the relaxation and the imagination, with experiments like making a subject imaging that he was lifting a weight, and verifying the electric activity explosion that the muscles registered, even though they weren’t used at all.
It is interesting to highlight that even when we already have excellent investigation work about the nervous tension and its effects over the body, we can still hear people say how their stressing states exhaust them, while.:
It is not the stress but the lack of relaxation what exhausts us (4)
Only maintaining our balance between stress and relax through god relaxation methods allow us to rejuvenate our body and mind, to the point of being able to face new stressing stimuli without harmful consequences for our health.
We must understand then that the relaxation does not consist in the absence of activity, but in a state where our body makes a series of activities oriented toward the stress relieve; and so, as it is an activity it is capable of being improved with the practice, as it happens with any other exercise.
Our natural states of relax and balance can be altered by the stressors (exterior stimuli that produce stress) and stress is a synonym of nervous tension, and is the answer of our body to those stimuli.
Reestablishing the inner balance altered by the stress states it is called “The general adaptation Syndrome” (that’s the name that Dr. Hans Selye gave to it) (5) and it consists in three phases:
The alarm phase
The resistance phase
The exhaustion phase
We enter into the alarm phase when we define any exterior stimuli as something negative, dangerous or prejudicial (eve if it isn’t).
The resistance phase is also known as the biological functional adaptation, and it is constituted by all the general and non specific reactions produced by the action of the stressing stimuli, to which the body looks for some kind of adaptation
The exhaustion phase is produced when the body affectivity to overcome the prolonged action of the stressing factors decay.
Dr. Selye says that as a general rule, we go first through the two first phases, and only when they aren’t enough to fix our stress, we enter into the exhaustion phase, that is a time of physique fatigue and individual worstment that if it is prolonged for a long period could produce the death of the individual.
We have said before that men like all the other animals, comes to this world prepared to have to answers to the stress: to fight or to run away, but men as a rational animal has a third option that is to re-define the situation.
Two thousand years ago the philosopher Epícteto stated that:
“The environment is not absolutely responsible for our perturbation, but are our perceptions what cause us the psychological pain”
And it is precisely for it that the human being can protect itself from an aggressive media, not only running away or fighting, but also ignoring or diminishing the importance of the event, re-defining it as not so harmful, or even as positive.
But it is important to highlight that no matter which is the method that we use to face the stress (fighting, running away or redefining the situation) only the relaxation resulting from the use of god relaxations techniques will allow us to get rid of the noxious effects of the stress.
But the relaxation, even when it is our best weapon to fight the noxious effects of the stress, only eliminates its consequences, meaning that it will always be necessary to analyze the situation to see how we can avoid to incur in new stressing situations.
RELAXATION AND PROGRAMMING EXERCICSE
A relaxing exercise can be divided in two phases:
The active relaxation phase
The passive relaxation phase
In the active phase, the participant is devoted to the execution of the elected relaxation method; while in the passive phase, he is asked to be a mere spectator of his own relaxation, leaving the natural innate mechanisms act automatically to take us to the recovery state.
The exercise that I will mention next is exactly divided in such two phases, and it is good for the execution of several objectives:
The increase of the concentration
The develop of the imagination
The self improvement
NOTE: Next we will make a mere enunciation of the steps to achieve a good relaxation. This exercise is part of the series of 42 meditation and motivation topics that I have recorded for you.
Locate yourself comfortably in your favorite posture, take a deep breath, and when exhaling it feel how a relaxing sensation descends through all your body.
Take another deep inspiration, and when exhaling feel as a curtain that lowers in your mind, and it takes you to a deep sensation of mental peace.
Take another deep inspiration and when exhaling it feel how all your being enters at a more deep, and healthier mental level.
Once you have achieved a first state of general relaxation it is necessary to achieve a deeper relaxation, and for that you should think specifically how each one of the parts of your body relaxes, beginning from the head to the feet.
When you have imagined how each one of the parts of your body relaxes, you can achieve a deeper mental level counting slowly back from number 25 to number one.
Breathe slow and deeply.
Make another deep inspiration, as you slowly expel the air, feel how a wave of warm relaxing sensation travels your body from the head to the feet.
Imagine that you are in the middle of a dreamed landscape
Pay attention to each one of the details of the dreamed landscape that you like to imagine.
Enjoy the absolute relaxing.
(1 MINUTE PAUSE)
Concentrate on the meticulous planning of what you want. Imagine yourself possessing your most valuable dream.. imagine yourself being, doing or having, what you want.. and try to live that desire with the happiness of the achievement..
Mentally represent to yourself with all possible detail, how it will change your life with this achievement.
Every time that you enter these special mental levels, you will achieve beneficent effects for your body and your mind.
You can use these special mental levels for your benefit, and for the benefit of any other person that needs it physically or mentally.
You have the power to help others and help yourself.. in any moment or time that you need it..
To recapture your habitual conscious levels again, count slowly from one to five.
—– End of the exercise—–
You can find the first complete relaxing exerciseHERE and a deep relaxing exercise HERE
With this relaxation method, if you follow the mentioned sequence enough times, you will achieve the wanted relaxation.
If you feel that no matter how much you repeat the steps you don’t end up achieving the wanted effect, you can always practice with one of my recorded exercises and then you will achieve it with easiness.
NOTE: You can imagine as already achieved as many projects as you have in your mind, but so that your doubts and current fears don’t conspire against the depth of your thought, don’t stop in each project more than the necessary time for a quick mental flash.
A question that you will probably make to yourself is:
How long should I practice this kind of exercises, to begin feeling the beneficent effects?
The answer is that, you will possibly feel the effects from the first time that you practice; but that as all physical exercises, it improves with the practice, and while the mastering starting from a novice level can take one or two months, if you continue practicing the exercise, the beneficent effects will continue extending, taking you to an improvement of all your life.
As for the time that each exercise should last, Dr. Benson experiences seem to give a clear indication that it is possible to cause intense physical modifications, with only fifteen minutes of practice each day, at any moment of the day.
THE RELAXING SENSATION
Although it is impossible to present an absolute scientific demonstration, it is a widespread believe that with the relaxation comes a decrease of the information that the sensors of the muscular cells transmit to the brain; which causes that a smaller quantity of neurons get occupied by the process of the muscular balance.
From the neurophisiologic point of view, it is believed that a smaller occupation of the cerebral bark with the muscular information, leads to a decrease of the control that the cerebral bark has over the inferior areas of the brain, responsible for the control of the more primitive functions; and as consequence of that, when the more primitive control centers are liberated, a series of motor impulses take place, causing in the fellow sensations like:
Heaviness of the body accompanied many times with the production of images, lights or colors
Being able to even cause, a revitalizing liberation of energy that in some cases will take the individual to a state of euphoria and great pleasure.
Today there many relaxation methods, but it is necessary to highlight that the difference resides more in the form of facing the topic than in its physiologic consequences.
Independently of what different people perceive in a relaxation state, that can be one or more of the mentioned sensations, and even no one, a series of organic answers always take place, excellently detailed in the studies carried out in the Thorndike Brief Laboratory of the University of Harvard, by Dr. Herbert Benson (6) that include:
The decrease of the breathing rhythm
The decrease of the oxygen consumption, at inferior levels to those that are achieved with the deepest dream
The decrease of the heart rhythm
The decrease of the arterial pressure
A 18 % decrease of the metabolism rate with only 15 minutes of relaxation
The decrease in the quantity of sanguine lactate (this it is one of the instigators of the anxiety)
The development of a state of rest at the deepest level
The increase of the Alpha cerebral frequencies (corresponding to relaxed states) Varied beneficent changes in the emotional states of the practitioners
A considerable increment in the recovery capacity and illnesses prevention
(1) Brown, Bárbara B. “New Mind, New Body Biofeedback: New Directions for the mind”. Bantam Books, Incs. U.S.A., 1976
(2) Barlow, W. “The Alexander Technique” New York: Knopf, 1979
(3) Jacobson, E. “Progressive Relaxation” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938
(4) Muse, Mark Dana “Estrés y Relax” Editorial IPPEM, 1983
(5) Selye, H. “La tensión en la vida (El Estrés)” Compañía General Fabril Editora, 1960
(6) Benson, H. “The Relaxation Response” New York, William Morrow, 1975
This is a chapter of the ebook The Success Secrets
Written by Dr. Roberto A. Bonomi
You will find all that you need to know about, self help, stress control, weight control, stop smoking, mind control, relax, motivation and meditation with subliminal messages at Dr. Bonomi’s web site: http://en.drbonomi.com
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