The word 'relaxation' is often applied to the leisure activities we engage in when we return home from work, the implication being perhaps that when at work we are in a permanent state of stress! I prefer to adopt the opposite view, judging in fact that people work best and most creatively when they are in a relaxed state. At the beginning of Brainware workshops I therefore normally provided a short relaxation session, the aim being not to send people off to sleep, but to help them to feel calm and quiet, but also alert and clear, and thus in an ideal state for creative learning.
It is impossible for a person to be mentally calm when the muscles of their body are in a state of tension, and so many relaxation techniques achieve their results, not by seeking to quieten the mind directly, but rather by working indirectly by relaxing the body. (See Mind-Body for further ideas on the close resonance between what happens in the mind and what happens in the body.)
In my workshops I would typically start with some loosening up exercises, such as neck rolling and hand shaking. We would then deliberately tense muscles, for example by making a firm fist and then relaxing it. The theory here is that by deliberately tensing muscles and then relaxing them they return to a less tense state than they were in originally. Next we would concentrate on our breathing, with emphasis on slow, steady breathing centred in the abdomen, rather than the chest. This is referred to as diaphragmatic breathing, and it is known to be highly conducive to the achievement of a relaxed state. Finally, I would play a musical extract, typically a piece of baroque music by Vivaldi.
There are many alternative ways of reaching a relaxed state, including Yoga, Autogenic Training, juggling and meditation.
As the stress of life continues to increase it is important to develop a life-style which enables you to cope creatively and successfully. As an important element of this it is very worthwhile to adopt some method of relaxation or similar technique, and it can be useful to 'shop around' first until you discover what works best for you.
For further information on relaxation and meditation see:
- Brief Relaxation Techniques
SelfGrowth.com - Meditation Websites
SelfGrowth.com - Relaxation Websites