EXERCISE 2: PROGRESSIVE MUSCULAR RELAXATION
This technique, based on the alternate contraction and release of certain groups of muscles, was developed in the 1930s by the American physician and psycho-physiologist Edmund Jacobson.
To achieve the maximum degree of relaxation you will have to practise regularly. You should not let more than 4 days pass between one session and the next;
The duration of the exercise should be 30 - 45 minutes. During this time you should avoid being disturbed in any way;
It is important to wear loose, comfortable clothes. The room you practise in should be darkened or have dim lighting and the temperature should be at a comfortable level;
Lie down on a hard surface with your legs lying slightly apart and let your arms rest beside your body. Let your feet relax and fall loosely outwards;
Before doing the exercise itself, breathe deeply, using the techniques described on the previous page.
You can now begin:
- Pull your toes back (upwards) towards your body, and maintain this position for 2-3 seconds. Release the tension and relax for about 15 seconds;
- Now bend your toes forward as if you were trying to place the sole of your foot on the floor. Maintain this position for a while and then relax;
- First with one leg and then with the other, contract the muscles in your leg, keeping your foot at an angle of 90 degrees. Maintain the tension for a while and then relax;
- Contract the buttocks and pelvis, maintaining and then releasing the tension;
- Contract your abdominal muscles, pulling in your belly. Maintain the position and then relax;
- Now we can do the same with the arms, starting with your hands. Tighten your fist and then release the tension;
- Contract the muscles of the arms, bending back your forearm towards the upper arm and maintaining the tension, bringing your wrist back as close as possible to your shoulder. Extend your arm again on the floor and relax;
- Press your arms in against your chest and hips and simultaneously draw your shoulders down and forwards. Now relax;
- Move your shoulders down and backwards to contract the shoulder area and shoulder-blades. Contract the muscles and then relax;
- For the muscles of the back of the head, pull your shoulders up, contracting the trapezius muscles and enclosing your head between them. Contract the muscles and then relax;
- Contract your forehead and tightly close your eyes. Press your lips tightly together as much as you can. Maintain these positions and then relax;
- At the end of the exercise continue to lie on the floor for a few minutes, trying to perceive the sense of deep relaxation. Continue breathing deeply.
>>> (Es: meditation)