Stress Relaxation Techniques

Letting Go of Tension

  1. First, tense your whole body as tightly as possible. Clench your fists, flex your feet and toes. Make a face?squeeze tightly but not so tightly that you hurt yourself. Squeeze... tense... and hold for a few moments. Notice what it feels like to be this tense. Hold... and now relax, relax completely... allow your breath to fill you naturally, and as you exhale, let go completely. Let go into gravity. Release any tensions that you don't need. Allow the waves of breath to ebb and flow.

  2. Now, once again, tense your whole body, but this time tense only half as much as before. Tense... hold... feel what it is like to hold this level of ten-sion. Hold... and let go. As you breathe, let go completely of any tensions in your mind and body. Allow each breath to carry away all your tension. Now, feel what it is like to have released and let go of tension.

  3. Once again, tense your whole body, but again only half as much as the last time. Tense... hold... feel how it is to have this level of tension in your body. Feel the bracing, squeezing, holding. Recognize that frequently throughout the day you are probably as tense as this without knowing it. Now, exhale... let go completely. Allow the waves of breath to wash away the tension. Let go into gravity. Feel your body opening to the flow of life. Feel your vitality and a deep, pervasive warmth within you.

  4. Again, tense your body, and again, only half as much as the time before. Scan your body and feel the subtle ways in which tension pervades it. Hold... feel it.. .and let go completely. Gently relax into the flow of your breath. Allow your body and mind to find their perfect harmony.

  5. Now, tense only your mind. Clench your attention around a thought or anxiety. Hold... feel the subtle pain in your heart closing around fear, anger, doubt, guilt. Generate a wish to be free from this pain and tension. Now breathe... open... release. Allow your mind and heart to open to the flow of thoughts, images, and feelings within the sphere of your experience. Rest in this openness. Watch as fear, anxiety, and doubt float by. Feel the deep, quiet strength that pervades your entire being.

  6. When you are ready, take a few deep breaths. As you breathe, consciously infuse your body with a heightened sense of vitality.., infuse your mind with clarity and calm... fill your heart with warmth, tenderness, and appreciation for yourself and the world you live in. Carry this feeling with you and allow it to pervade and energize your next activity.


Pause,Become aware of your surroundings. Feel where your body touches the world.Bring your awareness to the weight and warmth where your body touches your own body.

As you breathe,exhale long and slow, softly sigh as though releasing a heavy load. Let go into gravity.Allow the inhalation to come naturally, effortlessly receive the breath.

Scan your body for signs of tensions. Breathe your awareness into those regions.As you exhale, soften and open around the tension. Smile to yourself. Gently remind yourself: "I don't need to hold this in my body."

After scanning and releasing throughout your whole body, allow all sensations to flow within the space of your awareness; experience the symphony of life resonating within your body. Remember -- there is space for all sensations within your experience.

If tension or pain still remains, soften around it.Allow the sensations to float freely and to change without resistance. Gently bring your awareness to the flow of thoughts, feelings, and images in your mind.Simply notice (without commentary) how they change frommoment to moment.Attend to the process of change without concern for the particular content of the thoughts and images.If you notice your attention tighteningaround any thought, feeling, image, or sensation, simply notice the gripping,smile to yourself,breathe into it,and let it flow.


Now, simply rest in the flow.Remember?there is space for everything within your experience.Resistance is pain.Trust gravity.Relax into the flow...Allow your awareness to become subtler with each breath. Appreciate the resonant quality of the flow state.Practice fine-tuning and returning to this resonant flow state.

Reentry and Expression

Once again,become aware of your contact with the world around you. With eyes closed, sense the space around you.Sense how the surrounding space connects you to everything. Experience the sounds, smells, and feelings filling this space.As your eyes gently open,allow them to be soft and receptive.See without looking.Aware of breath...Aware of gravity...Aware of the resonance...of free flowing life within you.Carry the calm vitality of this experience into action.

Cultivation of Flow

Human circuitry is remarkably sensitive to change. It requires frequent fine-tuning to maintain peak performance.Life will inevitably challenge you.Monitor your stress levels throughout each day. By consciously recog¬nizing and reducing the "noise" in your life, an underlying harmony naturally begins to emerge.Patient, persistent practice pays off. If you have thirty seconds at a stop-light or thirty minutes at lunch or after exercise, use it to fine-tune your sys-tem. Even if some tension still remains afterward, give yourself credit for what you let flow. We each come fully equipped with everything we need to learn about how to relax. Perhaps no one has ever showed you how to access these potentials.With practice, you will notice some wonderful changes in your body, mind, and performance.

[Adapted from the book "The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation" by Joel & Michelle Levey]

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