How to learn to relax the body

In these days of tension, human beings can learn a great deal about relaxation from watching a cat, who doesn’t just lie down when it is time to rest, but pours his body on the floor and rests in every nerve and muscle.-Juliette Clarke, A Cat Lover’s Notebook

To learn how to relax the body is essential to finding inner calm.

Two techniques can help:

1. Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves bringing awareness to the body, contracting the muscles, feeling the muscles let go and familiarity with the feeling of relaxation

  • Notice how the area feels in the particular moment that you first pay attention to it.
  • Contract the muscles in that area and hold the contraction long enough to notice the feeling that the tightening of the muscles create.
  • Slowly and smoothly relax the muscles, noticing the feeling of tension releasing and the feeling of relaxation the follows.
  • Give attention to what that area feels like now that you have relaxed it. Notice the feeling of relaxation in the muscles and extend that feeling throughout every part of the body – that is, all through the feet, all through the tummy, all through the head.

Listen to this audio to practise this technique of progressive muscle relaxation

2. Body scan technique: In this technique we do the same as above but we do not contract the muscles. We take our attention to each area, notice how they are feeling, and then feel the area relaxing.

Listen to this audio for a brief version of this technique

Listen to this audio for a detailed version of this technique

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