Active Relaxation Exercise
This method will allow you to learn to relax muscles on your own
command. The ability to get all of the muscles in your body to relax
will help you get to sleep. It will also help you to meditate well,
since often when one tries to meditate small muscles at seemingly
random places will spasm enough to cause discomfort. Later on you will
find that your new ability to relax things can be applied to
development of a deep form of meditation in which the object is to
pause internal dialog in order to better examine thoughts and why they
emerge into consciousness.
To do this exercise, you will need an assistant for a couple of half
hour sessions, someplace flat, dry, and preferably soft enough to be
comfortable to lie on. You should probably avoid wearing tight clothing.
You will lie on this surface. Perhaps in your case it will be a rug or
carpet or maybe a wrestling mat. You will lie flat on your back. with
your legs comfortably spread apart and your arms also spread out to
approximately the same angle as your legs.
Your assistant will kneel or sit on the floor near enough to your right
foot to be easily able to support it from below.
The two of you will agree on a term that you will in future use to tell
yourself to relax some muscle or groups of muscles. It might be "Drop,"
"Relax," or even "Unlax Doc!" it really doesn't matter.
Your assistant will tell you to raise your right foot, with toes up, to
approximately 30° and then make as tense as you can all the muscles
from buttocks to toes. Next, your assistant will say, "Drop!" or
whatever you have agreed upon. You will attempt to release all your
muscles and let your foot drop like a clod of earth into the waiting
cupped hands of your assistant. Your assistant will evaluate whether
you really let go totally, or whether you hedged a bit and tried to
prevent your weight from falling too heavily on its target.
You should do this exercise a few times on your right leg, then repeat
the exercise on your left leg, the left arm, and the right arm. Try to
make a tight fist each time. You would suffer no harm if your assistant
were not there, so these four parts of the exercise are relatively
easy. The next step is more difficult.
Your assistant will next move to a position suitable for catching your
head, and, while remaining flat on your back, you will raise your head
as high as you can, tightening all muscles in your face and all the
supporting muscles to the maximum possible. On command you will totally
relax everything and your assistant will catch it. It should feel to
your assistant as though a ten pound sack of flour had been dropped
from the same height.
You should practice for no longer than half an hour. You may need your
assistant for two or three sessions. After that you can practice using
this technique whenever you are troubled by spasming muscles while