By Tania Kotsos
UPDATED: NOV 2020
Learning how to relax your mind and body is a unique and powerful ability to master, more so in an action-oriented world where the importance mental relaxation at will is often overlooked. It is also the first step when using creative visualization to imagine your desires, but the relaxation techniques discussed below can be used for any purpose in which mental relaxation is required.
To achieve your goals and create your desires is not only about taking action, you must also learn how to empty your mind for a specific purpose. Relaxing your body and quietening your mind allows you to consciously impress your subconscious mind with mental images or scense of what you want to attain or experience. And the subconscious mind then sets out to create whatever it has been directed to do so in line with its subject nature.
First off when learning how to relax your mind is to find yourself a quiet place where you know you will not be disturbed for at least half an hour. Whenever possible, switch off all modes of communication for this time. 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. Take some time to adjust your body so that you are sitting or lying down comfortably.
Next up when learning how to relax your mind is to use your breathing. Having taken your seat in an upright or lying down positivion, 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're using correct breathing techniques, you can 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 and even as you go about your day.
Mentally count down slowly from 25 to 1 while you continue to breathe deeply and rhythmically. 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. You may find in your first few attempts at relaxing your mind that you fall asleep when counting downwards—this is okay and you can try again. Take it easy and relax. With practice you may find that counting back from as little as 10 to 1 is enough to achieve the same state of physical and mental relaxation.
As you count downwards 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. Feel each part of your body relaxing in turn, releasing any tension that is being held by your body while relaxing your muscles.
A great relaxation technique when learning how to relax your mind and body is to slowly tense and then relax each muscle group. This helps you distinguish between muscle tension and relaxation. To do this, simply tense or squeeze each muscle group in turn for a few seconds and then release it. Progressively work down your body from your face to your toes.
Learning how to relax your mind is really about learning how to quieten 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.
As you first begin learning how to relax your mind, you are likely to find that thoughts race through your mind quite randomly. These can range from arbitrary thoughts to quite specific thoughts about what you are going to do after your session or worries that you may have and so on. Do not fight or resist your thoughts and do not become frustrated. Straining or forcing yourself to try relax or get rid of your thoughts will only make you tenser and prove counterproductive to your relaxation.
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Let any thoughts float through your mind without giving them attention or analysing them. You will find that, with practice, uncontrolled thoughts will lessen as you become more adept at relaxing your mind. As stated in the Bhagavad Gita, "the mind is restless and difficult to restrain but it is subdued by practice." Do not worry if some thoughts continue to linger in your mind during the process. Let them be and they will leave.
The aim of learning how to relax your mind in the way described in this article is to enter into a meditative state of physical and mental relaxation, which is the ideal mental state for visualizing and imagining your desires. In neuroscience, this meditative state, in which you are conscious of your surroundings but your body is in deep relaxation, is associated with the Alpha and Theta brainwave frequencies, which is that level of consciousness at which you can most effectively impress your subconscious mind. Straining, analysing or over-thinking the process will bring you out of this meditative state, so again, quite literally just relax.
After you have completed all the steps of your creative visualization session (Steps 2-5 of imagining, feeling, believing and detaching), you can gently bring yourself out of the relaxed mental state by slowly counting upwards from 1 to 5, gradually feeling yourself becoming conscious of your surroundings and then opening your eyes on the count to 5. If you are visualizing in your bed with the intention of sleeping afterwards, you can just drift off to sleep once you're done.
When learning how to relax your mind, even if you fall asleep during your creative visualization session, rest assured that your subconscious mind will be impressed with your imaginings while you sleep, or even your intended imaginings if you fell asleep before you visualized anything.
The last thing you think of, read or watch before going to bed is what preoccupies your subconscious mind while you sleep. As an aside, bear this in mind and choose what you read or focus on wisely before going to sleep. Do not fall asleep to the television playing in the background or scrolling through your smartphone. It is wisest to fall asleep each night in a relaxed state of mind with gratitude. You can use what you have learnt here on how to relax your mind for optimal sleep even if you are not intending to visualize something specific.
With this in mind, the New Thought author Neville Goddard had this to say about one's thoughts before sleep: "You must be in the consciousness of being or having that which you want to be or to have before you drop off to sleep. Once asleep, man has no freedom of choice. His entire slumber is dominated by his last waking concept of self."
You may want to repeat these relaxation methods to learn how relax your mind several times without visualizing until you feel comfortable with simply quietening your mind and relaxing your body. Remember, this first step is all about relaxing your mind, so release any thoughts of whether you are doing it 'right' or 'wrong'. Relaxation of the mind is a skill. As with any skill, it takes time and practice to master it. Be patient with yourself, persevere and soon you will know how to relax your mind and it will be easy for you.
Once you have learnt how to relax your mind and body, you can move on to the second step in the creative visualization process: How to Use Your Imagination.