"Need to de-stress? Progressive muscle relaxation is an excellent clinically proven way to release tension"- by Annie O'Brien
Progressive muscle relaxation is a very simple and effective way to reduce tension in the body simply and easily as it induces the relaxation response rapidly. The exercise has multiple health benefits as it provides a practical way to release tension held in the body. When practised daily this exercise can relieve anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve an individual's quality of sleep, alleviate pain, energise an individual and generally create a feeling of well being.
The relaxation response becomes intensified every time you practice as the body is trained to release tension and does so more rapidly with each successive session.
The body holds tension in the muscles. When individuals are under stress and feeling pressured in their lives the muscles tend to hold even more tension. This can be exhausting and lead one to feeling almost permenantly fatigued. When individuals are experiencing pain they can hold even more tension in the muscles which can be quite draining. By methodically and consciously tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body the indiviual increase awareness of where and how they hold tension. This allows them to become highly perceptive and somatically educated as to how and when they become tense and stressed.
By purposefully and mindfully tensing muscles for approximately six seconds and then release the tension quickly allowing the muscle to become loose, limp and completely relaxed simply letting go. As the release happens exhale completely.
When the exercise is practised consistently after a couple of weeks an idividual becomes quite adept at inducing relaxation rapidly as they notice immediately when if stress or anxiety related tension begins to creep into the body as a result of outside influence or external life events. The bodies level of arousal provoked by the stressful circumstances can be dealt with immediately in a simple effective way, thus calming the nervous system.
This exercise is incredibly beneficial for anyone experiencing anxiety, insomnia, pain, fatigue or feelings of panic. Below is a link to a free audio download that I recorded for my clients in order to allow them to practice at home.
Jacobson's Progressive Relaxation Exercise -
A short 20 minute exercise
Free download here -
"What is most personal is most universal", Carl Rogers
At certain times in life, adversity, challenges, sufferings and sadness overwhelm us all and yet we journey onwards. We continue to hope, endure and most of us pull through - developing a resiliency along the way. We all have our journey to complete. We enter this world alone and with nothing but our soul and we leave it alone. Most importantly we never know when we will depart. That is simply the way it is. Our souls are transformed by birth and again by death.
What if in life we viewed every person who has shared a part of our lives as our teacher and a reflection of ourselves? What if we viewed ourselves as a teacher to those who cross our paths also. Recognising oneness daily and mindfully. Some journey with us briefly and others travel with us for most of our way. Some lessons are brief and others take longer. Some are painful, others are miraculous and joyous. Some visit us in cycles until we really “get the hang of them” presenting us with lots of challenge. And onwards we go.
“...the heart of thee is the heart of all; not a valve, not a wall,
not an intersection is there anywhere in nature,
but one blood rolls uninterruptedly an endless circulation through all men,
as the water of the globe is all one sea, and truly seen, its tide is one.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The funny thing about life is that even though we pause for breath from time to time and we turn inwards, even when we think we are just existing in body, our mind keeps turning just like the globe on which we exist. Our thoughts keep floating and meandering through our mind. We think when we are awake and we dream in sleep. Thoughts never die. They evolve and give birth to more thoughts.
"Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." Khalil Gibran
As human beings we continually break the mould of who we thought we were yesterday - today. I believe It’s a millisecond by millisecond process. We are all human butterflies - emerging from chrysalis after chrysalis into eternity.
“And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” - Marianne Williamson
You see I have a story to tell you… You have a story to tell me… Really we are the same. Human beings are far more alike than different. Humanity is what makes us that way. Why don’t we sit a while… And simply be who we are…In this moment… Pondering the concept of oneness is integral to my outlook….Gandhi said "There is more to life than increasing its speed." Just think of what you might miss out on if you don‘t savour it moment by moment?
Life is imbued with meaning when we seek it. Miracles are an everyday occurrence. Sometimes we see, sometimes we don’t. Still they occur. Nothing ever remains stagnant, the world is constantly turning on its axis and we turn too upon the earth suspended in time and space…
“Man’s search for meaning may arouse inner tension rather than inner equilibrium. However, precisely such tension is an indispensable prerequisite of mental health. There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that so effectively helps one to survive even the worse conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life.”, Viktor Frankl
Annie O'Brien M.Sc. MIACP MIHA has a Masters Degree in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy from Turning Point Institute and Dublin City University. This course is one of the leading training courses in Ireland and is recognised by the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP), the Irish Association of Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy (IAHIP) and the European Association for Integrative Psychotherapy (EAIP).