By Carole Fawcett

"Can you teach me how to relax Carole?” was the question a client asked me not too long ago.  Yes, as a matter of fact I can (and did)  and if you’d like to give yourself the gift of relaxation, keep reading.

You can learn how to slow down and totally relax.  It’s important to do this at least once per day.   So I’m going to teach you how to do self hypnosis.

Find a quiet comfortable spot where you know you will not be disturbed for ½ hour – 45 minutes.  Turn off your cell phone.  Get nice and comfy.

Sometimes it is helpful to have meditation music playing in the background.

Close your eyes and become mindful of your feelings.  Identify any feelings of stress, anxiety or other issues. (see if they are affecting any parts of your body – sore shoulders, achy bits, tension headaches, etc.)  Visualize these feelings leaving.  See yourself waving good-bye to them.

Identify the tension in your body.  Starting with your head, concentrate on relaxing your skull, your forehead, all the little muscles around your eyes, your cheeks, your mouth, your nose, jaw and work all the way down your body, finishing with the feet.  Visualize each part of your body as you do this and consciously relax to the point you feel like you may be floating.  Try to become as relaxed as a rag-doll.

Take nice deep breaths in and out.  Breathe in calmness and peace and breathe out tension and negative emotion.

Once you have completely relaxed your body, imagine yourself stepping into an elevator that has 10 floors that go down.  See the elevator and notice that the inside of the elevator is surrounded by a beautiful aquarium.  In your minds eye, push the DOWN button.  Visualize the word “DOWN”.  As you are going down – 10 – nine – eight – feel yourself becoming lighter and more relaxed.  Do this slowly and really ‘see’ the numbers.  When you finally arrive at floor number one, imagine the elevator doors opening and see yourself stepping out into a beautiful garden, filled with your favourite flowers, or shrubbery or animals (you can imagine anything you like at this point – if you’d prefer a beach, or a lake, you can use that as a visual instead of a garden).

In your minds eye, visualize five steps that go down into your special place (garden, beach, lake, etc.), so counting the steps down to the scene, becoming aware that when you get to the bottom, you will feel the surface that you are stepping onto (grass, sand, etc.)  Concentrate on this feeling and allow peace and calmness to wash over you.  Really feel it.

As you become aware of the grass/sand, you will know that you are very relaxed.  This is a good time to give yourself some positive messages (i.e.  I am very relaxed and calm; I am confident; I am healthy; I am happy and content). When you feel nice and relaxed, you can begin to return slowly to the room.  Step onto the elevator and push the button that says “UP”………….and slowly counting from one to 10, start to come up.

Once you get off the elevator on floor 10, become more aware of being in the chair or couch you are seated in and begin to bring yourself back into awareness.

Once you have opened your eyes and are back in the room, say, out loud, “I am now awake,” and this will bring your mind back to the conscious state (or if you are doing this at night – just drift off to sleep if you haven’t already done so).

This is an excellent exercise to do at night if you have sleep issues, or after a stressful day at work.  It helps to slow down your brain waves and is mentally and physically very beneficial.

But like anything that is good for our body and minds, only doing it once will not make a huge difference.  It is something you need to incorporate into your life.

If you have chronic pain issues, self hypnosis can help to ease the pain, because pain causes tension in the body. Self hypnosis can help to ease the cycle of pain.

It will take some practice to become deeply relaxed, but don’t give up.  And don’t worry if you don’t remember all the steps – make up your own steps.

The more you practice encouraging your mind to quiet and slow down, the happier your body will be.

Enjoy.

Carole Fawcett is a clinical hypnotherapist, registered professional counsellor and freelance writer. www.amindfulconnection.com