The Jacobson method.
According to Jacobson, relaxation is the absence of muscle contraction, which leads in return and as a secondary effect, to the reduction of brain activity. This method is therefore fully geared towards the reduction of muscle tension. It is particularly recommended for hyper-nervous individuals who can't keep still, type 'A' personalities, the over-achievers and those who suffer from RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome).
Often, for some people, this hyper-excitability phenomenon is caused by too much stimulants such as coffee, tea, or chocolate which creates disturbances in the metabolism's absorption process of minerals such as calcium. When there is not anough calcium in the body, the nervous system becomes over sensitive and can cause the above mentioned reactions. For others, the over sensitivity of the nervous system is caused by a condition called 'peripheral neuropathy', a kind of degeneration of the nervous system. In any event, Jacobson's method is effective against one's limb's restless sensations.
The alternate muscle contraction / sudden de-contraction has the positive effect of bringing a fresh and increased blood supply to the muscles and thus has a soothing effect on the overly-excited muscles.
As for any relaxation technique, choose a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. The discet listening of soft background music is recommended to accompany this method.
In a softly lit room, stretch out on the floor or sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Extend the right arm in front of you, contract it and hold the contraction until you feel a burning sensation. At that point, suddenly release the contraction in your arm, so that it falls down heavily on your lap. once this is done, focus your attention on the growing feeling of heaviness in your arm. At that point, you can, if you wish, accentuate the relaxation by visualizing your arm buried under an enormous weight. Repeat the same process with the left arm, legs, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, chest, neck, etc. Try to put an emphasis in the areas of your body where you usually feel the more tension.
In the second phase of the exercise, using the same process, relax even further the muscles that are already at rest while another part of your body is contracted. Thus, while you extend and contract the right arm, make a conscious effort to relax the rest of your body.
For maximum efficiency, the exercise should be done for thirty minutes every day. This exercise is beneficial to rid the body of accumulated nervous energy, especially for thos people who have difficulty keeping still before a session of deep relaxation or meditation.
Stretch out in a comfortable chair and close your eyes.
Extend the right arm in front of you, contract the muscles and hold the contraction until you feel a burning sensation or fatigue.
Release suddenly the contraction in your arm and let it fall down heavily on your lap.
Focus on the feeling of heaviness. repeat the same process for the other parts of your body.
For the last phase, repeat the same process, but make a conscious effort to increase the relaxation of the muscles that are already at rest while another specific area of your body is contracted.
Increase the length of each session up to thirty minutes each day.
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Dr. Pierre Milot, Ph.D., Ph.D. (tc)