If disciplines such as Yoga and transcendental meditation have extraordinary effects on the mind and body but require a good amount of practice, there’s a system which promises to produce instant effects even on absolute beginners and therefore represents the ideal solution to save us from the stress of a Christmas holiday characterized by the Covid-19 pandemic, with all the limitations on social gatherings that follow.
If the prospect of not being able to have lunch and dine with your relatives causes you to lose sleep, this could be the right tool to rediscover a sense of tranquility and relaxation.
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR): what is it?
PMR is a system that starts off from a state of muscle tension to induce the command to relax in the mind. Progressive muscle relaxation helps a person be aware of muscle tension, enabling them to “loosen up” that tension. It’s based on the forced contraction and stretching of the muscles. In its extended version, the technique “trains” the mind to recognize sensations linked to relaxation (with practice, a person learns to distinguish the difference between tense muscles and muscles contracted spontaneously) and instructs it to exploit these sensations to induce a state of calmness.
Progressive muscle relaxation: its roots
Progressive muscle relaxation dates back to 1959 and to the work of US physiologist Edmund Jacobson entitled “How to relax and have your baby”, with the eloquent subtitle “Scientific relaxation in childbirth”. Jacobson had identified the relationship between the muscle and the brain the trigger to be activated to help women during childbirth. The origins of the Jacobson method, though, need to be sought a few years earlier and more precisely in 1925, in an essay entitled “Progressive Relaxation” published on the pages of The American Journal of Psychology. Dr. Jacobson drew inspiration from the ideomotor theory, among other things, according to which a mind in a state of pure relaxation does not induce tension or movements to the body.
Progressive muscle relaxation: some basic exercises
As mentioned, the original technique is a full-scale training session, but a few “tastes” of it are enough to already produce innumerable benefits. If you are interested in trying PMR, it is probably best to check with your doctor that there are no contraindications based on your clinical picture. Once you’ve done that, here’s how you should proceed:
a. switch off your smartphone
b. dim the lights and lie down on your bed (perhaps one equipped with a Magniflex mattress)
c. remove any rings, bracelets, belts, and anything else that may have a “tightening” effect
d. try to “drain out” the mind
e. inhale deeply, filling the abdomen, chest, and shoulders with air
f. hold your breath for 2 seconds, then exhale, exerting the abdominal muscles, and push them inward
g. hold your breath for another 2 seconds, and then exhale
h. repeat the above respiration system for a couple of minutes
a. stretch your toes, pointing them in the direction of the head until you sense discomfort, for 7 seconds
b. release and stay in a condition of rest for 10 seconds
c. contract the calves until you sense discomfort, for 7 seconds
d. release and stay in a condition of rest for 10 seconds
e. repeat this pattern on the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, back, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, nape, mouth, eyes, and forehead
f. keep silent in a stretched-out position, breathing deeply for a couple of minutes.
Ok and now…Merry Christmas!!!