The media has exposed us to all sorts of exotic, hard-to-learn, long-time to master methods of stress management. Zen masters, biofeedback pros, hypnosis experts, and yoga gurus have their place and make great copy but they don’t have the corner on all things related to stress. Learning a few simple and powerful techniques can change your life. Got two minutes? Learn the following techniques. Spend some time to master them and you will have three friends for life.
Find Yourself by Finding Your Body
When we are in the thick of things our attention is cast outward and frequently carries our projections of what we think we are seeing in the people and events of the moment. When we are caught inwardly, we are away from our basic and simple selves and are in the past, future, or in some sort of analysis. When we need a break from either or both, all we need to do is find ourselves by finding our bodies. When we find our bodies, we pull back our projections and outward bound attention and we stop our mental time-travel.
1. Withdrawal your attention from the outside events and from your inside mind chatter and direct it towards finding your body.
2. Scan your body from head to toe, not looking for anything too special but just feeling your body
3. Repeat the scan but this time focus on scanning in the middle of your body. For instance, start at the top of your head and assume that you are focused in the middle of your head, the middle of your throat, the middle of your chest, middle of your stomach, and the middle of your pelvis. Next, feel yourself scanning down the middle of one arm and hand and next the other. Next move to each leg. The goal is feel the solidity of your body.
4. Repeat these scans as many times as you wish to bring your attention more and more to your body.
Flow Along With Your Breath
Your breath takes care of itself and it works sort of like the sea. Waves of air are drawn in and the tides of air go out. Watching the smooth rhythm of your air waves takes your attention, mind and heart along on this easy journey.
1. Come back to your body and find your breath.
2. You don’t have to change its speed or depth. Just start to follow it by focusing on the in and out of your breathing at the tip of your nose, at the up and down movement of your chest/belly, anywhere you can see the changes of inhalation, pause, exhalation.
3. Follow the flow.
Contacting the World
We contact the world in many ways but the most basic is the small area where we place our body against the surface of a chair, couch, bed, or ground. This is truly contacting the world. It is point that has some tactile and gravity pressure sensations and it is a good way to anchor us within simple reality for a moment or two.
1. If you are seated, be aware of where your butt, hips, and back touch the chair. If you are lying down, feel the larger area that is in contact with the surface of what you are touching.
2. Note all sensations of this intersection across the entire area that is in contact.
3. Hang out there as long as you want.
Technique Ratings and Notes:
Speed to relaxation onset: Quick
Level of relaxation experienced in first 2 minutes: Mild to moderate
Where can it be used: Anywhere
How noticeable when being practiced: Invisible
Best use (pre-stressful event, during stressful event, post-stressful event; general relaxation): All uses
Difficulty/speed to learn: Easy and fast
Equipment required: Perhaps a watch but a watch is not really necessary; go on feel.