Breathing, relaxation, meditation and guided thinking methods to become deeply relaxed.
How do you breathe? If you find yourself anxious or fatigued, try this:
- Sit somewhere comfortable and free of distractions
- Inhale for 3 seconds (deeply, using your diaphragm)
- Exhale for 2 or 3 seconds
- Repeat 10 times
This is a quick way to relax or meditate. If you have more time:
- Close your eyes after the 10th repetition (above). Concentrate on your breathing and don’t think about anything else. Try to find your natural breathing rhythm. The important thing is to find a steady rhythm. Do this for five to ten minutes until you are deeply relaxed and calmed.
- Focus on something in front of you: a doorknob, a picture, a spot on the wall. Inhale and exhale for approximately 3 seconds each (or at your natural rhythm) and simply stare at the spot as you concentrate on your breathing. Do this for five to ten minutes until you are deeply relaxed and calmed.
Relaxation Exercise (Meditation)
Lie down comfortably, hands beside your body, head flat on the pillow, eyes closed. Breathe a few times inhaling and exhaling smoothly and calmly.
Now, move your focus along your body: Start with your arms. Move your concentration down your arms slowly. Focus on your elbow. Move down to your palms. Feel how big and flat they are. Your fingers: feel the blood rushing through them.
Now move your focus to your legs. Think of how long your legs are. Move slowly down your legs, down to your toes. Imagine yourself ‘walking’ through your feet, starting at your toes and ending at your heels. Feel the pressure your heels make on the floor.
Now move slowly up through your shins and ‘walk’ slowly up your thighs to your stomach. Breathe. Keep on ‘walking’ throughout your body, ending your mental exercise at your face. Focus on your forehead, your cheeks, and your ears. Take your time.
To be effective, this exercise is usually expected to take no less than 7 or 8 minutes and in many cases will commence a short, pleasant nap.
The “Do Nothing” Zen Exercise
Find a comfortable position – either sitting or lying. Make sure that your shoes are off and that you are wearing comfortable clothes. Breathe deeply.
For 15 minutes, do nothing. Say nothing. Think nothing! This exercise is very hard to complete successfully as our consciousness brings us to think constantly about things that are bothering us. Nevertheless, with practise you will get better and better at it. Self control is essential. If you think that you don’t have the time to ever practise this exercise, it’s a very strong sign that you are in great need of it.
The Rose Exercise (Guided Thinking Therapy)
For this exercise you’ll need a fresh rose. Roses with a good aroma are obviously a better choice. Sit somewhere comfortably, indoors or outdoors, but a place where you are not going to be disturbed. Focus on the rose in your hand. For the next 10 minutes, your whole attention should be directed at this rose. Look in the center. Look at the change of colors and shades. The shape of the petals. How neatly knitted together they are. The texture. How the color changes from one part of the petal to the other. Can you count those petals? Think how easily we seem to miss the beautiful things surrounding us. Try to repeat this exercise often. Afterwards, whenever you have negative feelings or thoughts taking over, you can think back to your last exercise with the rose.
Safe Haven (Guided Thinking Therapy)
When you are filled with disturbing thoughts, you can do this exercise in order to allow the flow of positive thoughts to replace the negative ones. Think back to a pleasant experience you had at some point in your life. Many childhood experiences, travel experiences, parties, and occasions can fit into this frame. If you find it hard to remember such experiences, then choose a picture you like that shows something that gives you a positive feeling (it can be a picture of a happy couple smiling, a kitten, a tropical beach or whatever takes your liking). Think of the experience or picture you chose. See yourself in it. Think about how pleasant it is. Imagine the smells, voices, sights, colors, sounds. Remember that there are positive experiences outside of the crisis or bad experience you are going through, and such positive experiences will always be a part of your life as well.
Do this exercise whenever you feel filled with negative emotions. This exercise is your safe haven, and you should feel comfortable to step back into it.
Every evening before bed, you and your partner should put aside some time to talk and listen to each other. This exercise allows both of you to have a complete uninterrupted opportunity to share your thoughts.
Take turns of 5 minutes each, in which one of you talks, and the other listens without speaking. Any comments that the listener wants to make should be reserved for the end of the exercise. It is important that the listener does not comment, criticize, or interrupt in any way, and waits their turn. Allow yourselves to have at least two turns each, and then take a little time afterwards to discuss issues that came up during this exercise.
Do not go to sleep feeling as if there are things left unsaid! A major factor of stress is the inability to communicate or share things we are going through, and the feeling that there is no one interested in listening to what bothers us. You should do this exercise imagining that this is the last time you are ever going to see each other.