Before you begin: Your relaxation will be interrupted if you are constantly looking at a printout of this page to see what to do next. This exercise will be most successful if you
1. Find a quiet, warm room with a bed, couch, or reclining chair. Or pick a soft, carpeted area of the floor to stretch out on. Arrange this time so that you will not be interrupted.
2. Take off your shoes, lie down with your hands at your sides, and close your eyes.
3. As tightly as you can, tense your right hand. Hold it clenched for a few seconds, then loosen it. Continue relaxing your hand until it begins to feel warm and heavy.
4. Tense the muscles in your right forearm and then in your upper arm. Concentrate on the tension in your bicep, and then let your arm become soft and relaxed. Imagine that your relaxing arm is “melting” into the floor.
5. Move to your shoulders and neck. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then press them down away from your ears. Allow them to relax, focusing on letting the tension drain from the back of your neck as well.
6. Focus your attention on your right foot and calf. Curl your toes up and tense your lower leg. Now relax it. Let it sink into the floor. Tense your upper leg. Let the tension go.
7. When your right hand, arm, shoulders, foot, and leg feel comfortable, heavy, warm, and relaxed, continue to the other side of your body.
8. Tense your left hand. Hold it clenched for a few seconds, then loosen it. Relax your hand until it begins to feel warm and heavy.
9. Tense the muscles in your left arm. Concentrate on the tension in your bicep, and then let your arm become soft and relaxed. Remember that your arm is “melting” into the floor.
10. Move to your shoulders and neck again. This is a high-tension area. Shrug your shoulders up to your ears and then press them down away from your ears. Relax your shoulders. Feel the tension drain from the back of your neck.
11. Focus your attention on your left foot and calf. Curl your toes up and tense your lower leg. Now relax it. Let it sink into the floor. Tense your upper leg. Let the tension go.
12. Push out your abdominal muscles, making your stomach large and round. Hold this distended position for a few seconds, then let the tension go, allowing your muscles to relax. Now, suck in your stomach muscles until they feel tight and tense; release them by relaxing your stomach.
13. Allow your breathing to slow down. Your breathing should be controlled by your diaphragm rather than your chest. Your muscles should feel heavy and warm. Your whole lower body is still and heavy and all of the tension and stiffness has drained from it.
14. Allow the wave of relaxation to continue into your jaw, neck, and facial muscles.
15. Wrinkle your nose and make a big, exaggerated smile and hold it for just a moment. Now, let your facial muscles relax.
16. Press your tongue up against the roof of your mouth. Feel the tension in your chin, jaw and mouth. Allow your mouth to relax. Let your jaw slide into a relaxed position.
17. Bend your head back against the couch, bed, or floor to tense the muscles in your neck. Let your head and neck slide back to a comfortable resting position.
18. Lift your eyebrows. Hold them and feel the tension in your forehead and scalp. Now, release your eyebrows and let your forehead and scalp relax. They should feel cool and smooth.
19. Study all the muscles in your body and relax those that still feel tense. Recheck high tension areas like the shoulders, neck, forehead, and face.
20. Breathe slowly.
When your muscles are completely loose and comfortable, deepen your state of relaxation by following these steps: