Most people commonly recognise the 5 major senses of Sight, Hearing, Taste, Smell and Touch. Although it is a simplified view of how the body works it is a useful framework to group the major ways we experience the world around us.
By helping to relax each sense systematically and then by linking the experience between each sense we can achieve a state of complete relaxation. Each sense individually can contribute to stress reduction but when all senses are soothed at the same time the effects are so much deeper.
It is best to practice this in a relaxed posture like sitting or lying and never try this when your attention is needed elsewhere (like driving or looking after children). I’d recommend setting an alarm so you don’t need to check the clock and can even drift off to sleep if you so wish.
Relaxation By Sight
The dominant sense for most of people is sight. So relax that sense first for maximum effect. Our eyes build up stress and strain each day. You can give them a rest by closing them and placing a simple cold compress on them (some people like to use cucumber slices) or maybe cotton wool moistened with a small amount of cold water.
Relaxation By Hearing
Listening to certain sounds has a powerful effect on our minds and physiology. Most people have a song that, when they hear it, makes them feel like tapping their feet or dancing or songs that make them happy or feel reflective.
Humans have a powerful affinity to sound. Music (as rhythmic drumming) is thought to have preceded even cave painting as a form of expression.
Finding effective relaxation music, preferably at an appropriate rhythm to match your resting heart rate – for many this can be approximated to 60 beats per minute is a great way to unwind. Combine this with spoken word therapies like relaxation hypnotherapy or guided visualization and you have a very powerful means of unwinding.
Relaxation By Taste
Some people find comfort food a great way of unwinding but often the foods we crave are in fact high in fat or salts and can leave us feeling uncomfortable.
One of the easiest ways to unwind and refresh is to cleanse our palate (refresh our sense of taste) this can easily be achieved by a light (milk free) infusion of your favourite tea, preferably decaffeinated like Camomile or Rooibus, at a warm but not hot temperature.
Relaxation By Smell
Fresh lavender can be very relaxing. By placing it near a pillow when unwinding you can further enhance your deep relaxation.
Relaxation By Touch
Head massage will help relieve tension around the muscles in the neck and jaw. Start at the back of the head and massage in slow circles up from the top of the neck. Repeat several times with wider slow sweeping circles varying the pressure from medium to very light.
With the tips of the first three fingers on each hand apply a very light pressure on the point where your jaw meets your skull, just below and behind your cheekbones. With a very light pressure roll your fingers back and forth along the join and then slowly down towards your chin with a sweeping motion.
The Final And Most Important Stage (One that many people forget)
Recognise the benefit of the relaxation process. It’s not just enough to relax once you need to make time in your diary to regularly let go of your tension and embrace that luxurious feeling of deep relaxation. Getting a great deep relaxation CD can be a great way to make the time and exclude distractions. It’s so easy to schedule time for unwinding. Put it in your diary, starting maybe only once or twice a week for 10 or 15 minutes, working towards a daily relaxation session as you get more proficient.