Feeling stressed? Tired? Need some ‘me time’? Try this simple relaxation technique. Find a quiet place, sit or lie down and close your eyes. Follow steps 1-6.

“Right hand (left, if left-handed) warm”: you repeat this suggestion “right hand warm” mentally to yourself several times while focusing your awareness steadily but without strain on the hand until it becomes warm. If warmth does not increase noticeably after five minutes of directed attention to the hand, move on to step 3 and return to step 2 after completing the program. It makes the exercise easier if you imagine the hand is in a patch of strong sunlight, or receiving the warmth of a fire. Otherwise all you have to do is let the attention dwell on the hand steadily and repeat the suggestion of it being suffused with warmth. Repeat this procedure with the opposite hand.

“Right arm (left, if left-handed) becoming heavy”: this suggestion is repeated mentally by you several times while focusing all your attention on the arm.  A sense of heaviness, of letting go with the arm being pulled down by a heavy object attached to the arm with a string.  This leads to relaxation in the arm and elsewhere in the body.  Repeat this procedure with the opposite arm.

“Pulse calm”: this suggestion is repeated several times while focusing all your attention on the beating of your heart.  The heartbeat can be reduced by several beats per minute through this verbal suggestion.  A slower pulse rate is an indication of greater calmness and relaxation, and the heart continues to function efficiently.

“Breathing calm and regular”: this suggestion is repeated several times while focusing on your breathing.  When a person is anxious, fearful, or agitated, respiration becomes rapid, uneven and shallow.  When a person is calm and composed, breathing is slow, regular and deep into the abdomen.  Note that your breathing will naturally become slower as relaxation deepens.  You should not interfere with the flow of breath apart from repeating the suggestion.  The suggestion “breathing calm and regular” is allowed to do its work through passive awareness.

“Solar Plexus warm”: the solar plexus is located about 2 finger width above the navel and is a very important centre for the nervous system.  The name ‘solar’ is fortunate, with its suggestion of glowing heat. By focusing attention on the solar plexus and repeating the suggestion ‘solar plexus warm’, the whole abdomen becomes suffused with warmth, encouraging muscular and vascular relaxation.  It helps to have an image of the fiery sun in the area: warmth is healing.  Learning to create sensations of warmth in any body part through directed awareness is a valuable skill to cultivate. It can be used at times when the body is uncomfortably cold or when a body part is unhealthy or damaged and would benefit from warmth.  Such localised awareness can also relieve pain.

“Forehead pleasantly cool”: this suggestion is repeated while focusing attention on your forehead.  The head is the only part of the body to become cool; while the arms, trunk, and legs will become more relaxed if they are warm.  A helpful image here for you to use can be of your body basking in the sunshine but your head in the shade.