Visualizing to relax
Relaxing your body has the exact opposite physical effect of tension. When you enter a relaxing state, your heart beat slows, your breathing slows, your blood pressure lowers, your muscles relax and mental anxiety decreases.
+ The first step for relaxing is to learn how to breathe in a correct manner, using your lungs to consciously keep a rhythm for breathing and connecting your breath to your emotions.
A simple and effective technique is abdominal breathing. By taking deep breaths the bottom of your lungs fills with air, moving your diaphragm downward and expanding your abdomen.
Visualization techniques to relax vary according to different schools and the people who use them. Here is a simple, effective technique:
- 1. Lie in bed, ready to sleep. Close your eyes and practice abdominal breathing (see Relaxing breathing box).
- 2. Concentrate and visualize your entire body, from the bottom to the top: toes, feet, legs, buttocks, stomach, back, chest, arms, shoulders, neck until you reach the face. When you exhale, release the tension in each part of your body and muscles.
- 3. Next, think about your breathing and whisper mindless things like “one”, “peace” or phrases like “I am relaxed” or “I am calm”, each time you exhale. It is also helpful to visualize a pleasant image while performing this technique. Thinking about repetitive or mindless things helps your brain to get distracted in order to fall asleep.
- 4. Each time a thought occurs, let it pass by like a cloud in the sky. Don't insist on your thoughts. Continue until you fall asleep.
To practice proper abdominal breathing, begin by placing one of your hands on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Breath through your nose as indicated in the steps below. The hand on your abdomen will rise as your abdomen expands and your hand on your chest should remain immobile. Exhale through your mouth, with a whispering breath. To guide you better follow these steps:
- 1. Take a deep breath through the nose expanding your abdomen.
- 2. Keep your breath in for a few seconds and slowly exhale, releasing the air in double the time you took to inhale.
You can also practice this exercise when lying down, with a book placed on your abdomen. You will see the book rises as air expands your abdomen and then slowly descends as you exhale.