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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.

"Let the word 'relax' crowd every other thought from your mind."

  Martha Davis, Elizabeth R. Eshelman, and Matthew McKay, The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook, Part 3

3. Cue-Controlled Relaxation

Cue-controlled relaxation reduces the time you need to relax even further -- down to two or three minutes in most cases. In this stage, you will focus on your breathing and condition yourself to relax exactly when you tell yourself to. The instructions will help you build an association between a cue -- for example, the command "relax" -- and true muscle relaxation. Be sure that you are comfortable with release-only relaxation before you begin.

A. Make yourself comfortable in your chair, with your arms at your sides and your feet flat on the ground. Take a deep breath and hold it for a moment. Concentrate on blowing the worries of the day far, far away as you release the air in a smooth stream from your mouth. Empty your lungs entirely and then feel your stomach and your chest relax.

B. Now begin to relax yourself, from your forehead all the way down to your toes, using the release-only technique. See if you can relax yourself completely in thirty seconds. If you need more time, thatís fine. (If youíre making a tape, pause here for half a minute to allow time to relax.)

C. You feel peaceful and at ease now. Your stomach and chest are moving in and out with slow, even breaths. With each breath, the feeling of relaxation deepens.

D. Continue to breathe deeply and regularly, saying "breathe in" to yourself as you inhale and "relax" as you exhale. (If youíre making a tape, record these words on the tape, allowing about eight seconds for each repetition.)

Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .
Breathe in . . . relax . . .

Feel each breath bring peace and calm in and float worry and tension out.

E. Continue to breathe this way for several minutes now, saying the words "breathe in" and "relax" as you breathe. (Do not record the words again on your tape; this section is most effective when you say the words to yourself in silence.) Focus all your attention on the words in your head and on the process of breathing. Feel your muscles relax more and more deeply with each breath. Let the word "relax" crowd every other thought from your mind. Close your eyes, if you can, to deepen your focus. (If youíre making a tape, allow one to two minutes of silence before continuing to record the instructions.)

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