On this page you will learn (and practise) the art of combing relaxation with visualisation (of achieving your goals). This is a powerful way you can bring about change quickly in your life.
Changing our behaviour and our lives is never easy, especially when we are feeling anxious or emotionally aroused. Many therapeutic techniques, and indeed many old philosophies and religious practises, make use of the deep relaxation state as a starting point. Emotional arousal focuses and locks attention. It is only when anxious or depressed people are deeply relaxed, temporarily liberated from the interminable personal worries and concerns that plague them, that they can, metaphorically, step back, take a wider perspective, and be guided to see different outcomes and options for themselves in their lives.
Learn to achieve a state of calm
The body and mind are one, and we can trigger feelings of calm using a process that is possibly the oldest and most commonly used method; that is through breathing. Breathing regularly from the abdomen instead of the upper chest, and by making the out breath longer than the in breath, triggers a deeply relaxed state, usually after 10 minutes or so. This fact was discovered thousands of years ago and often formed part of the practises of meditations and chanting, and has gone on to become part of the relaxation techniques of modern therapy. This simple but highly effective breathing technique can be learned by everyone and is a highly accessible form of achieving relaxation. We call this "7/11 breathing". Why? Because we breath in whilst counting (in our heads) to 7 and breath the same amount of breath out more slowly whilst counting to 11. We do this in a gentle manner repeatedly for up to 10 or 15 minutes, and this will trigger deeply relaxed feelings within us.
What Is The 7/11 Technique Used For?
It can be used to calm Panic/Anxiety attacks, Hyperventilation, to relax you at the end of a stressful day, to get you ready for a busy day, to manage anger outbursts, to aid concentration before an exam/interview. In fact, almost any state which leads to high emotional arousal.
How Does It Work?
It works on the bodies’ autonomic nervous system. When we breathe in, receptors are stimulated to quicken our heartbeat, increase breathing rate and increase adrenalin production, and when we breathe out receptors are stimulated to slow our heartbeat, reduce our breathing rate and decrease adrenaline production (in layman’s terms when we breathe in we get excited and when we breathe out we relax).
It needs a degree of concentration to work, so it helps us take our minds off what was worrying us in the first place. Because it relaxes us, it also gives access to the rational thinking part of the brain that gets shut down in stressful situations, allowing us to think our way around problems.
Is It Difficult To Learn?
NO! Anyone who can breathe and count to 11 can learn it. Here’s how... ...
- Find somewhere comfortable to sit and relax.
- It helps, when you are first practicing, to sit in front of a mirror so that you can see your progress.
- Sit in a chair with your shoulders relaxed and your hands folded gently over your tummy.
- If possible breathe in and out through your nose. In for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11 (if you find it too hard to breathe out 11, start off with 3/6 and work up to 7/11. The important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in).
- If you are doing it correctly your shoulders will remain still and your tummy will get bigger and smaller as you breathe (called belly or diaphragmatic breathing). If you sit in front of a mirror you can keep an eye on your shoulders and tummy.
- Once you can keep your shoulders still and relaxed without effort it is a good idea to close your eyes and try to picture the numbers in your minds eye to help you concentrate completely on your breathing.
Practice this technique morning and evening for 5-10 minutes to give you an essential tool to cope with today’s hectic pace of life.
Now combine your relaxation with visualisation
Now try combining these relaxation skills whilst visualising yourself achieving the goals you have already identified from the previous pages. It is important to try and visualise yourself actually carrying out the goals or even better, in a position where the goals have been achieved. Visualise your goals in as much detail as possible. Bring in all your senses to this to make it seem as real as possible. Enhance your visualisation by first recalling some of the good memories and strengths you have previously identified. Summon up the positive feelings you had in response to these memories. Next, whilst holding onto these feelings, visualise yourself carrying out your new goal with these same feelings of confidence. Associating positive feelings with your visualisation in this way will enhance the power of it. Repeat this exercise as often as you feel you need to. Do not underestimate the power of your mind to bring about what you imagine. If you feel resistance or doubt creeping in, then remember your reframes that you have developed in order not to get stuck in any negative feelings or beliefs.
Keys to Visualising Your Goals
There are some key aspects that you have to be aware of when visualising your goals as a technique to help you reach your goals:
Focus on your senses: When I visualise the goal of my dream house, I am standing in my front garden with my cream coloured cat who is purring. I can feel the warm sun on my back. I can smell the fresh cut grass. All of these things help my visualised goal to become more real. When you first begin to visualise, you may not be able to experience all of your senses. This is ok. It is a lot like trying to clear your mind while meditating or trying to touch your toes when stretching. At first, you most likely cannot do either, but with time and practice, you are able to clear your mind or touch your toes.
Focus on details: This takes focusing on your senses to the next level. When I say focus on the details, I want you to get very specific. For instance, I can see the individual blades of grass and I can see the fibres of the tennis ball. Work your way up to being able to see very specific details. In time, this will become easier for you.
Visualising in this way is a powerful method of changing your life.
- It activates your creative subconscious, which will start generating creative ideas to achieve your goals.
- It programs your brain to more readily perceive and recognise the resources you will need to achieve your goals.
- It draws into your life the people, resources and circumstances you will need to achieve your goals.
- It builds your internal motivation to take the necessary actions to achieve your goals.
These past few pages have been designed to give you a straightforward way of bringing about positive change in your life. They are based on the robust methods of Human Givens Institute. I hope you have found them helpful. I can only encourage you to practise them as much as you can. Please contact me should you need to discuss any of these procedures or would like to see me.