When we hear someone say “take care,” it could be a friend saying goodbye, for now, as we part. Sometimes it’s meant seriously by someone who we are very close to. It could be that they want us to drive safely or get a little more rest.
In this hectic age we live in, Psychologists are inundated with people who suffer from anxiety, not infrequently to the point of suffering from panic attacks (shortness of breath or heart palpitations or fear of going crazy or dying, or nausea, or feelings of unreality or dissociation, as some of the symptoms).
As a result, many Psychologists are helping clients with Mindfulness training.
Dan Siegal has written a number of books on this subject (such as The Mindful Brain, Norton, 2007).
In my experience both personally and as a therapist, we experience stressful situations that we don’t have time to process or are afraid to process and or don’t know how to process. Our minds can add additional stress by focussing on things we can’t control, such as illness or our children’s issues. All of this unprocessed stress is like water behind a dam: eventually it goes over the top of the dam, resulting in conditions like depression, anxiety, illness, need to medicate and or anger issues.
Mindfulness by it’s nature trains us to stop adding to the stress and take time to detach and take care of ourselves. We move away mentally, for a few moments, from problem solving, to do lists and planning. We decide to take some time to take our emotional/physical “pulse” if you will. We become aware of our “state:” our breathing, heart rate, and tension in our muscles. This awareness puts us in the position to relax. Additionally, we can utilize techniques to open up channels for these stored energies to be released.
The technique I prefer for active releasing of stress (an additional technique) is called Brainspotting, but that discussion can be for another post. See my website: www.scottsdalecounseling.net; Arizona Brainspotting Center, for more on Brainspotting.
It can be remarkably helpful to know how to relax. We do this by learning to be mindful of our bodies. Once mindful, we can allow (not force) the body to return to it’s fundamental quiescent base, which is quite restorative! What you’ll see below is called Autogenic Training. This is a technique we can do ourselves (hence “auto”). Since being trained in it decades ago, I have found it to be perpetually of great value (yes, for me also).
So…take a few minutes right now if you’re able, and take a moment to indulge in Self-care!
1. Clear your mind…leave the rim of the wheel where all your concerns are and go down inside to the hub…ﬁnd God’s presence there…Be Still and Know That I Am God…detach from all worries…just be here and now. To the degree that we can accomplish this (sometimes no mean task), we do not add any new stress to the body while relaxing.
2. Once you are working on detachment (notice it’s something you keep doing) start the autogenic training:
Sink into your chair and intentionally relax all your muscles…go
through your body (body scan) to see where you might be holding tension
and release where you can
Then give yourself the following commands…Remember, you can’t
force compliance, but you can allow healthy responses. Stay Curious,
Open, Accepting and Loving:
My arms and legs are heavy and warm…let that be so…notice what
your body does with this and let it deepen. Blood flowing to the extremities brings weight and warmth.
My breathing is calm and regular…let your breathing be deeper,
slower and very regular if possible
My heart beat is calm and regular…notice your heart beat…let it slow
down…the goal is that there is no pounding or racing…if there is, that will be
part of our work later
My forehead is pleasantly cool (sometimes blood ﬂow gets a little too
busy in the head)…use this if necessary
Take 10-15 minutes to feel where YOUR BODY relaxes and enjoy and deepen it by
continually repeating the commands above while allowing your body to respond.
Warning: you may not want to stop after 15 minutes!
For more information, see my website: www.scottsdalecounseling.net