Progressive Muscle Relaxation

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Yesterday evening I had problems to fall asleep. I was very tired because 1000 thoughts were in my head after a stressful day. I felt twitchy and tensed. But than a special name came to my mind: Jacobson. Edmund Jacobson. He developed the progressive muscle relaxation in the early 20th century. I’ve been knowing this method for many years.

During my studies of theology I wrinkled my forehead when I was thinking which caused me headache because of my muscular tension. But I wasn’t aware of that at all. Then I got acquainted with the progressive muscle relaxation. It’s an easy way to relax. You lay on the floor in casual clothes. Take yourself enough time for this exercise. In the beginning you maybe should schedule half an hour. You can hear relaxing music like Deuter (e.g. Land of Enchantment) while you are relaxing, but I found out that silence is better.

First get aware of your whole body. Then direct your awareness to a foot. It may be difficult to feel or to get conscious of it at the beginning. We often are so much focused on our thoughts that we forget to feel our body.

O.K. let’s go on with our foot. We tense its muscles of it and hold this tension for a few seconds. We concentrate on this feeling of tension. How is it? Is the tension too strong, do I feel that the muscles get warm or whatever? How does this tension feel? Maybe you first have to laugh because it’s so strange to feel your foot maybe for the first time?

After the tension you go back to the normal state of the muscle. The normal state of the muscle is to be relaxed. Concentrate on this state as well. Be aware how the muscles feel when they are relaxed. And that’s the whole name of the game.

What you have done with the muscles of your foot you do successively with all muscles of your bodies. For me it was surprising when I get aware of my body for the first time. You have to do it regularly to become aware of your body and its tensions. Jacobson found out that we store our bad emotions and worries in our tensed muscles. If we wrinkle our foreheads and tense our muscles because we are worrying we get tension headaches.

Meanwhile I haven’t any of them because when I realize that I tense my muscles unconsciously I tense them consciously and relax them again. To get such an awareness of your body you need a little training. But it will change your life to the better.