Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Let's Prelax

Today, I'd like to introduce a concept that may seem foreign to all members of our increasingly Americanized world: The idea of proactive relaxation.

How many times have you heard (or worse, said), "I'm so stressed out, I need to relax", or "I'm totally overwhelmed, I need to relax", with the idea being that the person in question has allowed him/herself to go over the edge of sanity before deciding that finally, now it is time to find some peace. That, my friends, is what I'd call reactive relaxation; identifying that you are already overwhelmed and then responding to that by trying to relax after the fact. If you've found yourself doing this, you might have noted that it is, in fact, quite difficult to then relax.

So I propose this much more appealing alternative: Relaxing before you ever get overstressed or overwhelmed! (Light dawning on Marblehead). We'll thus refer to it as proactive relaxation, or pre-relaxing. In fact, let's go ahead and make a catchy new verb out of this: Prelax. This is, of course, not meant to be confused with the Prelax brand of preventive laxatives that I will work on developing after this post. Seriously, though, I just thought of the name earlier today as I was conceiving of today's entry.

The idea of prelaxing is that if you begin the day relaxed, you never get stressed out to begin with, and then you never need to relax afterward. And what could be better than going through your day knowing that you are not going to be perturbed by anything? It's like having a protective shield of "I don't give a crap" surrounding you at all times.

So, how to achieve this wonderful stress-free sheen? Emotional preparation is everything. Start your day with a few quite moments of looking inwardly, eyes closed, breathing gently, and preparing yourself for the various scenarios that might take place that day. Imagine yourself calmly and confidently handling every possible situation that could arise. Use of all your available senses in your imagination to create the situations vividly and live them out in your mind, reacting the way you want to react, and seeing how the outcome is just so much better if you are in control of your emotions. After all, for most of us, we can basically predict what's going to happen in our day with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Let's face it: We're not that interesting. And also be aware that the people who you envision having very interesting lives probably have very routine lives as well. Tom Brady wakes up in the morning and says, "I'm going to throw a football today. Just like yesterday".

So the point is, if you know it's coming, why bother being stressed out about it? If you know your boss is going to throw a bungload of work at you and have unreasonable expectations about how soon he wants it all done, why get upset about that? You've accepted the fact that you're working for this miserable fleck, so you may as well handle it in a way that doesn't further punish you in the process, which is to say, calmly and coolly. So, prepare yourself for the way you want to act in the situations that you will know will arise, and expect to act that way. We all know that expectation is the mother of outcome. And if you begin your day relaxed, you know that you're much more likely to stay relaxed, rather than starting the day already worried about what might be coming down the cowsh*t funnel.
And then once you've gotten the hang of forecasting how your day will go, start to think further into the future. Emotionally prepare yourself for the week, and then the month, and then the year, and so forth, creating positive outcomes for how you will handle every possible situation that could arise. Forecast all kinds of scenarios, from best to worst, and know that you and you alone determine how the situation affects you. Prelaxing, and preparing yourself to respond in a calm and confident manner assures the best possible outcome for even a bad situation. Learn this, and you are on your way to being a master of your own mind.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preparation for Meditation, or Just for Life

Prepare for Meditation by Releasing Bodily Tension -

This podcast, while not part of the Meditation Getaways series of guided meditations, can be seen as a companion to that, or to any exercise in calming the mind.

Many people that I've worked with in my hypnosis practice have complained that they can't seem to meditate or do self-hypnosis effectively on certain days, because they're carrying so much tension in their bodies that it distracts them or prevents them from settling their minds. In this podcast, I teach you a technique called progressive neuromuscular relaxation that is designed to relieve that tightness in the body through a series of tension-relaxation movements performed on all the major muscle groups.

Since, it does involve tensing of the muscles, I advise you to consult your physician to make sure that this exercise is safe for you.

I will guide you from toe to head, as we tense each muscle group tightly and then relax it completely, being mindful of the sensation of relaxation. Each combination of tension and relaxation teaches you what relaxation should feel like in each muscle group, because complete relaxation can best be felt when it is contrasted with complete tension. By tensing a muscle as tightly as you can, you effectively get the tension out of it, so that afterwards, all you can feel is relaxation.

As you pay attention to what relaxation really feels like in each movement, you could even "meditate" on this feeling. People notice sensations such as tingling, buzzing, warmth, heaviness, etc. After the entire exercise is complete, your body should be loose, limp, and restful, and you should be able to transition to meditation or self-hypnosis easily, having been completely relieved of your distracting tension. That being said, this exercise can also stand alone as a daily routine to remove the tightness that builds up in your body throughout the day. As you continue to do this exercise daily, your body effectively learns how to be relaxed all the time, so you'll find yourself being much more at ease in everything that you do.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Meditation Getaways" retail products are now available

I know I'd said months ago (maybe even half a year ago) that I'd soon be releasing the popular Meditation Getaways guided meditation series as a line of retail downloads. Well, I'm proud to say that they are here! Take a look at the latest version of the Moodstreams product catalog.

For those who are hearing about Meditation Getaways for the first time, here's the scoop: In early 2009, I launched a free podcast series of guided meditations that were all about exercising the imagination and developing creativity. They featured Moodstreams nature sounds as background ambience, while my voice guided listeners on these "adventures of the mind" to various remote locations in the imagination, and it gave us all a chance to practice thinking abstractly in order to bring balance to our lives in a society where analysis and critical thinking are becoming increasingly dominant. The Meditation Getaways became very popular thanks to iTunes and other podcasting services, and there was a demand for me to keep making more of them. I released 8 meditations throughout the course of the year, after which I felt it necessary to take a break from them for a while, and decide where I might go with them next or whether I had already accomplished everything that I could accomplish with the series and that was it.

During this break, the podcast series continued to gain in popularity, and I decided that I should just incorporate them into the retail part of my business. As proud as I was of the podcast, they were still very "podcasty" in nature, in the sense that every single episode had a long introduction where I would say who I was, what I did, the name of my business, the website people should go to, the purpose of the meditation series, etc. etc. In other words, it was full of ads and promotion for myself, because that's how you keep things free while running a business. So faithful listeners who used the meditations frequently had to wade through this long introduction to get to the "meat" of the meditation. Some listeners expressed their annoyance over this!

So, for starters, I simply decided to re-release the entire series of 8 meditations as a collection of high-quality retail MP3 products. The new Meditation Getaways, which are available now on Moodstreams.com, are recorded and issued in the same outstanding audio quality as the Moodstreams nature sounds (instead of inferior podcast-quality audio), and have no ads or promotion. When you press "play", you hear me say the name of the meditation, and then I start guiding you into the meditation right away. They're available for the low price of $5.99 per individual meditation, or $19.99 for the complete collection of 8. Each meditation is between 14 and 20 minutes long. If you get all 8, you get well over 2 hours of meditations. Not bad for 20 bucks!

From now on, when I record a new episode of Meditation Getaways, it will simply be added to the retail line. The podcast continues to exist, but I won't be adding any new episodes to it for now, although I may occasionally add audio recordings of simple breathing exercises and relaxation exercises.

So if you are intrigued by the concept of Meditation Getaways, or are already a listener of the podcast who is sick of fast-forwarding through my shameless self promotion, you might want to give the retail series a look!