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    Categories: Practice

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques

It’s easy to overlook the importance of deep physical relaxation and focus only on stilling your mind.

This is a mistake, because if your body isn’t relaxed first, you are making it unnecessarily difficult to reach a trance state.

I strongly recommend focusing some of your time on this – your body and mind will both thank you.

What is Progressive Muscle Relaxation?

Modern life has a habit of making us neglect some muscles and overuse others – so you may have all sorts of niggling aches and pains that distract you from reaching the deepest states of meditation. These exercises help with these – but that’s not the only reason I do this regularly!

PMR is a scientifically-validated technique for physical relaxation. (You can read here about its effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression).

It’s not a new idea – Dr Edmund Jacobson came up with the idea in the 1920’s.

Because it seems like a purely physical relaxation, it’s particularly helpful people suffering from anxiety and depression who don’t want to feel as though they’re getting involved with anything too mystical!

How Does It Work?

In essence, it’s simply a way of teaching you to monitor and control your muscular tension. It shows you how to achieve this by tensing different muscle groups, and then relaxing them.

Although the effects on your body become quite profound with time, the interesting thing for me is the way that relaxing your muscles also relaxes your mind

As Dr Edmund Jacobson once said:

“An anxious mind cannot exist in a relaxed body.”

Truer words were never said!

The Many Benefits of Deep Physical Relaxation

  • Reducing cortisol levels (Read why this important for your health), lowering blood pressure, slowing down the pulse…
  • It helps improve concentration and focus, uplifts the mood, and strengthens the immune system…
  • It helps you deal with stress, and is incredibly helpful if you suffer from insomnia…
  • It’s simple, free, requires no equipment and can be done any time.

…And, it just so happens that you can use it to help you to reach the right state to induce an Out-of-Body Experience.

Before starting…

  1. Make sure that you’re wearing loose, comfortable clothing
  2. Take off your shoes
  3. Remove jewelry, watches etc
  4. Set aside enough time where you won’t be disturbed
  5. Switch off your phone, and any other distractions
  6. Lie down, or sit down in a comfortable chair with good support

Step One

Breathing exercises – a few minutes of deep breathing.

This doesn’t need to be anything complicated, though I do give some examples of the best breathing exercises in this site.

Step Two – Tense, Hold, Relax

Simply tense-up each muscle group for a period of around 10 seconds, and then relax those muscles.

What could be simpler?

I’ve always started at my toes, and worked upwards to my head, but you can work down from the head if you prefer – it really makes no difference.

A Script

Here’s my version of Progressive Muscle Relaxation. While you’re getting used to doing this, you may find it useful to record yourself reading out the instructions, or something similar.

In each exercise, breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.

  1. Starting with the right foot, while breathing in, curl the toes downwards. You’ll feel this in your toes, the top of your foot, and the back of your ankle. Hold for 10 seconds, while holding your breath. Next, while breathing out, relax the muscles completely. Focus the mind on how relaxed your right foot now feels.
  2. Repeat the process with your left foot.
  3. With your right foot, curl your toes upwards. This will tense-up your calf muscles. Again, tense the muscles while breathing in, hold the muscle tension for 10 seconds, while holding your breath. Exhale, as you relax the muscles, and enjoy the relaxed feeling in that muscle group.
  4. Repeat using the left foot
  5. Right thigh – tense the muscles between your right knee and your hip. It’ll feel as though you’re locking your knee. Release while exhaling. Concentrate on how exactly this feels.
  6. Next, your left thigh…
  7. Tense-up the buttocks and hips. Squeeze your buttocks together, hold, and release. Notice which muscles are being used.
  8. Pull-in your stomach muscles as hard as you can, hold for 10 seconds and release.
  9. To tighten your chest, take a massive breath, and expand your chest as far as it will go. Hold, and release.
  10. Tighten the shoulders. Imagine that you’re trying to get your shoulder blades to meet-up. Hold, and release.
  11. Next, the arms. With your arms straight out to the side, tense the triceps on your right arm as much as you can. (This is the muscle at the back of your upper arm). Hold,and release as normal. Then repeat for the left arm.
  12. Tense the right biceps. The easiest way to do this is to imagine you are showing-off your muscles! Hold for 10, and release. Repeat for the left arm.
  13. Tense the forearm, either by flexing the wrist backwards or forwards, or both.
  14. Tense-up the fists, screwing them into as tight a fist a you can manage. When your fist is the tightest possible, hold for 10, and relax.
  15. Neck (optional). Lift shoulders high, as if you were trying to make them touch your ears. You can also increase the tension by tilting your head backwards slightly. Some people have managed to over-strain their neck, so I leave this stage as optional. Certainly, don’t overdo it, as your neck is quite complex, and probably doesn’t have the strength of your other body parts.
  16. Finally, the head and face. You can approach the face as a whole, and screw-up your entire face in one go, or break the process down into stages, eg mouth and jaw, followed by eyes, followed by forehead.

Feel the deep physical relaxation that has now spread right through your body. If you wanted, you could finish here, and begin your day – this truly is an incredibly powerful way to relax and get rid of stress.

But, for Astral Projection purposes, this is just the beginning – your next stage will be to relax your mind, and trigger the correct brain wave frequencies to reach a deep trace state…

C.Taylor: