Step 1 - How to Relax for Creative Visualization
By Tania Kotsos
The first step in the creative visualization process is learning how to relax your body and empty your mind. This is a critical step. Contrary to what you may have been told in the past, achieving your goals and creating your ideal life begins with relaxation not action. Learning how to relax opens you up to directly programming your subconscious mind.
Take a Seat: Find yourself a quiet place where you know you will not be disturbed for at least half an hour. Sit upright in a comfortable seat with your feet touching the floor, your back supported and your hands resting on your lap. You can choose to lie down if you prefer as long as you can keep yourself from falling asleep during the process.
How to Breathe: Close your eyes and take three to five deep, abdominal breaths. Inhale deeply and steadily through your nose allowing your stomach to rise slightly or push out. This relaxes your diaphragm and allows more air to enter your lungs. Hold your breath momentarily and then exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your stomach to return to its normal position.
To make sure you are using correct breathing techniques, place your hand on your stomach and practice this breathing technique. This is the correct way to breathe. Train yourself to effortlessly breathe this way right through your visualization sessions.
Count Down: Mentally count down slowly from 25 to 1 while you continue to breathe deeply. If you find that counting backwards from 25 does not bring you to a relaxed state, try starting from 50 or as high as necessary. In the same way, with practice you may find that counting back from as little as 10 is enough to achieve the same state of relaxation.
Relaxation Techniques for Creative Visualization: As you count down to 1, consciously relax each part of your body, starting with the top of your head, forehead, eyes and face and then working downwards to your shoulders, your chest, your arms, your hands and fingers, your stomach, your pelvis, your thighs, your knees, your calves and finally your feet and toes. Release any tension that is being held by your body and relax your muscles.
A great relaxation technique when learning how to relax is to slowly tense and then relax each muscle group. This helps you distinguish between muscle tension and relaxation. Tense or squeeze each muscle group for at least 5 seconds and then release it. Progressively work down your body from your face to your toes.
Empty Your Mind: It is important that you learn to quiet your mind during your creative visualization sessions. The simplest of relaxation methods to help empty your mind of your thoughts is to place your attention on your breathing. It has also been shown that rolling your eyes slightly upwards at a 45 degree angle without straining them helps in the relaxation process by producing more alpha brainwaves.
Do Not Fight Your Thoughts: As you begin to relax, you may find thoughts racing through your mind. Do not fight or resist them. Let them flow through your mind without giving them attention and you will find that, with time, such uncontrolled thoughts will lessen. As it states in the Bhagavad Gita, "the mind is restless and difficult to restrain, but it is subdued by practice." Do not become frustrated if some arbitrary thoughts continue to linger in your mind during the creative visualization process; they will lessen with practice.
In neuroscience, this relaxed state of mind in which you are conscious of your surroundings but your body is in deep relaxation is associated with the alpha and theta brainwave frequencies.
You may want to repeat the first creative visualization step of applying these relaxation methods several times until you feel comfortable with it. Remember, this first step is all about relaxing, so release any thoughts of whether you are doing it "right" or "wrong". Relaxation is a skill. As with any skill, it takes time and practice to master it. Be patient with yourself, persevere and relax you will. Once you have learnt how to relax your body and empty your mind, you can move on to the second step in the creative visualization process: Imagine.
In a nutshell, the first step in creative visualization is to learn how to relax. Find a comfortable seat, sit upright, breathe deeply and steadily, count down slowly from 25 to 1 while relaxing all your muscle groups from head to toe. Empty your mind by focusing on your breathing. Do not become frustrated if thoughts race through your head. Relaxation techniques are a skill that you can learn. All you need do is practice what you have learnt here about how to relax.