Relaxation Techniques

Safe Space Mindfulness Practice

  • Begin by getting into a comfortable position, back straight but not stiff, chin parallel with the ceiling. You can close your eyes if that is comfortable for you, or you can lower your eyes and keep them in a place that does not distract you. Bring your attention to the top of your head. Become aware that you have a top of your head as it is not a place to which we often give attention. With your full awareness there, I want you to imagine or notice a little door, right there, on the top of your head.
  • Please, open the door, and notice a long, spiral staircase, going down, down, down. As you begin to go down this spiral staircase, I want you to notice what the stairs are made from: are they wood or marble; if they are carpeted, is the carpeting old or new; what color are the stairs? Notice if there is a railing; what does it feel like under your hand? As you continue to walk down the stairs, notice what is on the walls around you: are there pretty pictures of nature or of people who are special to you? Maybe there are windows; you take a moment to open one and smell the fresh air and listen to the sounds outside. As you are going down the stairs, try and notice where you are in your body. Some people feel they are in their heads, some in their necks, some in their abdomens, and some in their toes. If you are tired, you can sit down on one of the steps and take a rest. When you are ready, you can continue down the stairs, slowly, carefully, mindful of each step as you feel the weight of your body on your foot and the feel of your shoe on your foot, noticing all of your sensations both inside and outside your body.
  • As you reach the bottom of this staircase, you notice another door. Open it, and step inside. Notice that the walls are your favorite color, and that there is the faint scent of lavender and vanilla in the air, or any smell that is calming and peaceful for you, and in the far corner there is a comfortable place for you to sit. Perhaps it is a recliner, a rocking chair, a couch, or a beanbag chair. As you sink into this seat, notice that next to you is a little table with a delicious, comforting, calming cup of tea or hot chocolate or coffee on it.
  • As you make a bracha mindfully and begin to sip your soothing drink, notice all the wonderful things around you. This is your place. Inside it is whatever makes you feel good and safe. Maybe there are pillows and blankets, books, music or a large stuffed animal. In this room is anything that you can think of that makes you feel good and safe and calm. Sink into this feeling of comfort that everything is okay and will be okay. Take a few breaths here, noticing how you breathe in this special place. Is it slow and deep, quick, cold, warm? Feel yourself falling deeper and deeper into this state of wakeful calmness, awake and aware of all the pleasure and comfort you feel in this calm and serene special place.
  • When you are ready, you can get up from your seat and take a final look around this room. Realize that this place is always inside of you and that you can come here whenever you would like. Express gratitude for the good feelings you received here. When you are ready, you can step through the door, back to this moment, this room, bringing all your awareness to the space that we are in right now.

Relaxed Breathing

  • You are now going to try another relaxation technique called Relaxed Breathing. Begin by getting into a comfortable, seated position. You can also do this in any position are in, but a seated, comfortable one may be the easiest position in which to practice. You may close your eyes or direct them to a place that is not distracting for you, such as on your lap or on the floor. Take a few regular breaths in and out, and notice your breathing: noticing it coming in and leaving you. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest. Now, take a breath in to the count of 1-2-3-4, and hold for 1-2-3-4 and breath out slowly to 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Repeat in 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4, and slowly out 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. While breathing in, you might say to yourself CALM or RELAX. While breathing out you might say OUT STRESS or I?M OKAY. Choose something meaningful for you.
  • Remember that the main point is to take slow, long out-breaths.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  • This technique naturally relaxes the body. We carry a lot of tension in our bodies that we are unaware of, so tensing and relaxing the different muscle groups automatically relaxes that tension. To begin, get into a comfortable seated position. You can do this sitting on the bus, sitting in class, or lying down in your bed. Starting with your toes: scrunch them up really tight, then your whole foot, calf, and leg. Now tighten your stomach muscles, scrunch your shoulders up high, squeeze your arms, clench your hands into fists. Squeeze your closed eyes tight, scrunch up your mouth, and your forehead. Everything should feel tight. Hold it. Ignore any thoughts about looking strange or awkward. After a moment, let go of any tension, any tightness, any worrisome thoughts, fears, frustrations, and/ or passing thoughts. Let them all go now. Begin again, but this time, start squeezing your muscles from the top of your head, scrunching up your ears, eyes, nose, mouth cheeks, jaw, and neck. Tighten your shoulders, arms, wrists, and fingers. Focus on your chest and abdomen, tighten your thighs and calves and ankles and toes. Become aware of the tension in your entire body. After a moment, let go of all the tension and tightness, all the stress, worries and unhelpful thoughts.

Tip the Temperature

  • This is meant to be BRIEF.
  • Turn the air conditioner on very high.
  • Go outside in the cold.
  • Jump in a cold shower.
  • Turn on the cold water in the sink, tilt your head down, and splash the cold water under your eyes.
  • Put ice into a plastic bag and holding it under your eyes