Relaxation & Meditation Methods

If you practise these methods every day, you will find it easier to use them when you feel anxious, stressed or tense.

How to practise

Making time
Both methods take 20 minutes. For some people, before breakfast or in the evening after dinner are good times.
Preparing a place
Find a quiet place at home. Dim the lights or close the curtains so it is not too bright. Turn off the phone and put a sign on the door so you are not interrupted.
Sit in a comfortable chair. Make sure your feet can reach the ground. Do not lie down because you may fall asleep.
When to stop
Stop if you feel any pain or discomfort.
Muscle relaxation
This process involves six main steps:
1. Taking a deep breath
2. Holding your breath while tensing a muscle group for 5 to 7 seconds (tense for less time if you have cramps or spasms)
3. Noticing the tension or tingling in the muscles as you hold them
4. Breathing out as you relax the muscles
5. Noticing the warmth and feeling as you relax the muscles
6. Repeating twice for each muscle group. Uncross your legs. Rest your head on the back of the chair. Rest your arms on the arms of the chair or in your lap. Close your eyes. Start with your right arm, then do your left. Take a deep breath as you make a tight fist with your right hand, then tense the muscles of your right hand, forearm, and upper arm. Squeeze until your muscles tremble or shake. Feel the muscles pull tight. Hold this position for 5 to 7 seconds. Breathe out slowly as you relax your fist and arm muscles. Notice the muscles relaxing until there is no tension at all. Notice your arm is warm and relaxed. Repeat twice. Now do the same with your left arm.

Move progressively through the muscle groups

Tense and hold each muscle for 2-3 seconds when doing the following:
Head - Tense the muscles in your forehead and the top of your head
Jaw - Clench your teeth, jaw and cheek muscles
Chin and neck - Tighten your chin and throat muscles. Feel the pull in the two muscles at the front of your neck.
Chest - Tense your chest and back muscles. Feel the pull below your shoulder blades.
Stomach - Tighten your abdominal muscles until your stomach feels hard.
Legs - Start with your right leg, then do the left. Push down on the floor with your toes and arch your foot. Feel the muscles tighten in your calf. Press the ball of your foot into the floor.

Your whole body should now feel relaxed. If you still feel tension anywhere in the body, go back and repeat the process for that part of the body.

Simple Meditation

This process involves relaxing your body, breathing, and saying a simple word silently to keep your mind calm and focused. You can lose track of time so you might want to use a timer so you do not have to keep checking the clock.

Uncross your legs. Rest your head on the back of the chair. Rest your arms on the arms of the chair or in your lap. Close your eyes.

Relaxing your body -
Breathe normally and start by thinking about relaxing your feet. Let the tension in your ankles go. Relax your legs. Let them rest easy in the chair. Relax your stomach muscles, then your chest and back. Relax your arms. Let your hands rest gently in your lap on the arms of the chair. Stretch out your fingers and let them rest. Now relax your arms, your neck, then your head.
Become aware of your breathing -
Now become aware of your breathing. Breathe through your nose if you can. Notice your chest rise and fall. Notice the feeling of the breath in your nostrils.
Breathe easily. -
Repeat a simple word to yourself.
As you breathe, say a simple word silently. Choose a word of one or two syllables, like 'calm', 'breathe', 'relax'.
Breathe easily and naturally and keep repeating your word. As thoughts or ideas pop into your mind, just let them go and return to your word.
Finish gently -
When you are finished, do not jump up and walk around. Sit quietly for a minute and then gently open your eyes. Sit quietly for another minute, and then get up.
Do some regular exercise, like running or swimming.

Join a meditation class

There are many meditation and relaxation classes available at Australian universities. For information about classes at Monash University...

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