Staged Relaxation is the third article in a series titled Mind Training. It’s about learning to control your mind by way of (firstly) controlling your physical self.
This article is the first exercise. I learned it when I was about 7 years old. I have taught it to hundreds, ever since I was about 8 years old. Always with great success.
Before you begin
1. Read this article in its entirety.
2. Close your eyes and think through the exercise completely. If you don’t have it in your head, reopen and re-read. Repeat this until you reckon you’ve got it. (It’s pretty simple, should be easy.)
3. Put your phone on silent *and* outside the room. Preferably at the other end of the house.
4. Ensure you won’t be interrupted for a while. It could take you 10 minutes, it might make you fall asleep and take you 60. Be aware of this; rushing is of absolutely no value to you.
5. If you are doing this with little people around, know that it’s still valuable even if you’re only able to do the first 5 minutes. Pick it up again later. (Yes, from the beginning.)
Instructions for how to do the staged relaxation
Staged relaxation is entirely about your physical self. It will help you to connect your brain to your body, and will show you where you have gaps.
This is the very first exercise. Meaning: You will activate your body as you do the exercise. Later you will feel it just with your mind.
Here is how to do the staged relaxation. Begin with your feet.
1. One at a time, feel the toes on your right foot. Wiggle the little toe, then the second-from right; then third-from-right; then your second toe, then your big toe. Curl your toes over, tense them up tightly. Then let them go. Imagine them falling off your foot.
2. Do the same with your toes on the left foot.
3. First with your right foot and then with your left, tense all of the muscles on your foot. Move your foot in circles. Tense it again. Then let it go. Imagine your foot sinking into the floor away from the bottom of your leg.
4. First with your right calf and then with your left. Tense your right calf as tight as you can, and hold it. Then let it go. It sinks through the surface of the floor. Just tense the calf, stay away from any other muscle or tendon.
5. First with your right knee and then with your left. Tense your knee as tight as you can and hold it. Then let it go. It sinks through the surface of the floor.
6. First with your right quad (the muscle on the top of your thigh), and then with the right hamstring (the muscle underneath your thigh). Tense the muscle as tight as you can, and hold it. Then let it go. It turns into wobbly jelly. After you do the same with your hamstring, the entire thigh sinks heavily, heavily through the surface of the floor.
7. Repeat on your left thigh.
Now you know it, keep going!
Repeat the tightening/relaxing process all the way up your body, in this order:
- pectoral muscles
- deltoids (shoulder blades)
- armpits and shoulders
- upper arms
- lower arms
- neck and throat
- (and if you can…) the muscles on your head.
Once you’ve moved through all of these elements, rest gently for as long as you like. You may go to sleep; know that if you do, that is perfectly ok. Sleep is a form of meditation.
Now you will know intimately which parts of your body your brain is connecting to, too. Can’t feel your fourth toe? Spend some time massaging it and connecting with it. Or any other part of your body to which you can’t easily connect.
If you have any questions, leave a comment or contact me.
Did you enjoy this? Get The Letter and unlock even more:
1+ letters per month by either email (sign up below) or in your real-life letterbox (sign up here instead).