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Excerpted from The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay. Copyright © 2000 by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman, and Matthew McKay. Excerpted by permission of New Harbinger Publications, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"Try to allow your body to relax, rather than forcing it."

  Martha Davis, Elizabeth R. Eshelman, and Matthew McKay, The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, Part 2

C. Now relax your forehead, smoothing out all the lines. Keep breathing deeply . . . and now relax your eyebrows. Just let all the tension melt away, all the way down to your jaw. Let it all go. Now let your lips separate and relax your tongue. Breathe in and breathe out and relax your throat. Notice how peaceful and loose your entire face feels now.

D. Roll your head gently and feel your neck relax. Release your shoulders. Just let them drop all the way down. Your neck is loose, and your shoulders are heavy and low. Now let the relaxation travel down through your arms to your fingertips. Your arms are heavy and loose. Your lips are still separated because your jaw is relaxed too.

E. Breathe in deeply and feel your stomach expand and then your chest. Hold your breath for a moment and then breathe out slowly in a smooth stream through your mouth.

F. Let the feeling of relaxation spread to your stomach. Feel all the muscles in your abdomen release their tension as it assumes its natural shape. Relax your waist and relax your back. Continue to breathe deeply. Notice how loose and heavy the upper half of your body feels.

G. Now relax the lower half of your body. Feel your buttocks sink into the chair. Relax your thighs. Relax your knees. Feel the relaxation travel through your calves to your ankles, to the bottoms of your feet, all the way down to the tips of your toes. Your feet feel warm and heavy on the floor in front of you. With each breath, feel the relaxation deepen.

H. Now scan your body for tension as you continue to breathe. Your legs are relaxed. Your back is relaxed. Your shoulders and arms are relaxed. Your face is relaxed. Thereís only a feeling of peace and warmth and relaxation.

I. If any muscle felt hard to relax, turn your attention to it now. Is it your back? Your shoulders? Your thighs? Your jaw? Tune in to the muscle and now tense it. Hold it tighter and release. Feel it join the rest of your body in a deep, deep relaxation.

The directions for release-only relaxation may seem simpler than those for progressive muscle relaxation, but the tasks involved are actually a bit more complex. Be certain that you are draining all of the tension out of each muscle you focus on. Donít let the tension creep back in as you turn your attention to different muscles. When you stand up after a session of release-only, you should feel as relaxed (or more so) as you did after a session of progressive muscle relaxation.

Of course, you donít want to stress yourself out by pushing yourself through a set of strict directions. Try to allow your body to relax, rather than forcing it. If you have trouble with a particular step, take a deep breath and try it againóor skip it. Let negative, critical thoughts blow away with each breath and hold on to the feeling of success and deepening peace.

Allow yourself one to two weeks with two practice sessions a day to master release only relaxation. When you can relax your entire body in one five-to-seven-minute session, youíre ready to move on to step three.

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