A Good Night’s Sleep

Everyone knows what a struggle the day can be if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Our energy and performance levels suffer, and so do our stress levels and our mood. Yet we can’t ‘make’ ourselves go to sleep and more than we can make ourselves remember things.

More than a third of adults have problems sleeping. If you’re one of them, you don’t have to suffer. There are many things you can do to help yourself without resorting to drastic measures like sleeping pills.

  1. First of all, try to maintain regular bed times and wake times, including weekends.
  2. Eat early – at least two hours before you go to bed. It takes this long to digest a meal. Late eating can cause indigestion, which disturbs sleep. A regular waking time in the morning strengthens the circadian function and helps with getting to sleep at night.
  3. Drinking close to bedtime can also disturb your sleep, so avoid drinking within two hours of bedtime and don’t drink stimulants (such as tea and coffee) after 6pm. An early evening drink such as chamomile tea can be helpful. Avoid alcohol – it may help you fall asleep but will dehydrate you, causing you to wake early with a dry mouth and throat.
  4. Exercise regularly, but don’t do anything strenuous within three hours of bedtime. Late afternoon is the best time. Regular exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and helps you sleep more deeply, but exercising close to bedtime makes falling asleep more difficult. It makes you more alert and raises body temperature (a cooler body temperature facilitates sleep).
  5. A very pleasant way to drift off to sleep is to practise physical and mental relaxation. Use a relaxation CD or DVD if it helps. Practise during the day so that when you need it the skill is easily used.
  6. Deep, rhythmic breathing helps enormously if you want to get to sleep. Combine it with visualising a peaceful scene.
  7. Clear your mind. An active mind interferes with sleep. If your mind is over active as bedtime approaches, write down whatever you are thinking about. Listing things you have to do tomorrow helps prevent worrying. Keep work-related things out of the bedroom – these may trigger anxious thoughts.
  8. Nightly rituals can send a strong message to the unconscious that it is time for sleep, for example, a warm bath, listening to soothing music or reading something calming in bed.
  9. Remember, we all need different amounts of sleep. Try out a few things, find what works for you, and don’t worry if you’re not sleeping as much as other family members. They may need more than you.

Ironically, the thing that prevents people sleeping the most is worrying that they won’t be able to sleep, so practise relaxation, and if you fancy it take up meditation.

Many people have overcome sleeping problems using the above techniques. I hope they work for you.

©David Lawrence Preston, 22.5.2019

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How Deep Relaxation Can Transform Your Life

There is a zone of relaxation where the mind is at its most powerful, intuitive and creative. This is the ‘Alpha State’, where the two halves of the brain are in balance. Being able to reach this restful, deeply relaxed state is a life enhancing skill, because the mind works best when you’re cool and calm. And it’s easily learned.

Deep relaxation is a state of calmness which allows the mind to idle and drift. It is a profound state of calmness in which all physical and mental tension is released.

Regular deep relaxation brings about a state of enhanced harmony in your daily life. Benefits include:

Greater peace of mind and mental calm

Improved health, greater vitality

More economical and productive use of energy

Protection against stress and stress related disease

Enhanced intuitive and creative abilities

More rapid healing and pain relief

Improved digestion and lower blood pressure

More refreshing and satisfying sleep

Better concentration

Improved ability to handle important occasions

With daily practice, deep relaxation also improves relationships. It’s easier to get on with others when you are relaxed and it’s easier to get on with yourself too). It also enhances self-awareness and self-esteem.

Young children have no problem relaxing, but it seems that most of us lose this ability as we mature. We become more tense, and tension may disrupt our social and working lives, sexual activity, digestion, sleep and brain-body coordination. It can also result in a variety of fears and phobias.

Deep relaxation can help relieve all these problems. Many people with chronic health problems benefit enormously. For instance, Alain suffered from severe stomach cramps and a nauseous feeling for years. Doctors had no idea what was causing it, but within two weeks of learning and practising deep relaxation twice-daily the pains were much reduced, and after six weeks, they’d gone altogether.

Calm

Practical Ways To Relax

Try this:

Sit up straight in a chair with your back and neck supported. Place both feet on the floor, legs uncrossed, hands resting comfortably in your lap. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Hold it for a moment and let it out slowly.

Take another deep breath. Hold it for a few moments, then slowly exhale. Allow yourself to be completely relaxed and comfortable.

Once more, take a deep breath. Hold it for a moment and slowly let it out. Relax.

Now simply sit in silence, breathing slowly, for five minutes without moving any part of your body. Concentrate on being quiet, still, peaceful and relaxed. Then open your eyes.

Always start by finding a time and place where you will not be disturbed. Don’t attempt it if you  need to pay attention to what you’re doing.

If you want to have music quietly in the background choose something slow and calming, such as gentle classical music or specially composed relaxation music. You’ll find it seems much louder once you’re relaxed.

A relaxation session comprises four stages – induction, deepening, autosuggestion/imagery, and termination. Don’t rush your relaxation sessions, and don’t worry about whether you are succeeding or not; this is counter-productive.

Induction

Start by picking a spot on a wall or ceiling and focusing your gaze on it. When your eyes start to tire, count five deep breaths backwards. When you get to one, your eyes will be closed.

Next, focus on your breathing: allow yourself to relax a little more on each out-breath. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the breath.

Then select one of the following:

  • Sigh breath: take a very deep breath. Release it suddenly, sounding a prolonged ‘aaah’ as you do so. Allow a wave of relaxation to sweep down your body. This is excellent for relaxing very quickly.
  • Three deep breaths: take a very deep breath. Fill your chest and lungs completely (but not so as it becomes uncomfortable). Hold for a count of four, then slowly release. Do this three times. Think the word ‘calm’ or ‘relax’ as you exhale. Increase the count to six, eight or ten as you become more practised.
  • Imagine a cloud of peace and calmness filling your body as you breathe in. When you breathe out, imagine it taking with it all stress and tension. If you like, imagine the cloud having a soothing colour of your choice.

Deepening the relaxation

Next, take your attention to different parts of the body/groups of muscles in turn and consciously relax them. (This is called ‘progressive’ relaxation.)

Relax your toes and feet

Relax your calves and ankles

Relax your knees and thighs

Relax your buttocks

Relax your stomach muscles and solar plexus

Relax your back and spine

Relax your chest

Relax your neck and shoulders

Relax your upper arms

Relax your lower arms and wrists

Relax your hands and fingers

Relax your eyes and face

Now try one or two of the following techniques. Everyone has their own style of relaxation, so choose those which work best for you:

  • Rag doll: Imagine your body as a rag doll, limp and floppy, muscles soft, loose and without tension.
  • Count down: Slowly count down from ten or twenty to one on each out breath. Imagine yourself descending a flight of steps, a lift or escalator one level at a time, letting go a little more with each step or level.
  • Affirmation: When you are deeply relaxed, slowly repeat the following affirmation:  ‘I relax easily, quickly and deeply. Each time I relax, I go deeper and deeper. I am at peace.’
  • Relaxing place: imagine that you are somewhere tranquil such as a garden, beach or special sanctuary. Images and sounds of water can be very soothing. So can imagining the feeling on the warm sun on your face and body.

Once relaxed, create visual images, sounds and feelings and repeat the affirmations that will help you to get what you want from the session.

Triggers

You can easily create a trigger or ‘anchor’ to help you to relax at will. This is how:

When in deep state, gently put the thumb and fingers of your dominant hand together and whisper the word ‘Alpha’. Then silently affirm, ’Whenever I put my thumb and fingers together and say ‘Alpha’, I will instantly and easily relax deeply.’

Within a few days, with practice, whenever you close your eyes, put your thumb and fingers together and whisper ‘Alpha’, you will feel yourself easily drifting down into relaxation.

My mentor became so proficient at this he was able to go deep into Alpha in seconds while leaning on a traffic barrier in London’s Piccadilly Circus. If it can work there, it can work anywhere!

Termination

To finish, first affirm that beneficial changes have taken place in the unconscious as a result of the session and affirm that you are using your deepest inner resources to bring about the changes in thinking, attitudes and behaviour that you desire.

Then, if you are relaxing during the day, count slowly from one to five and open your eyes. Wiggle your hands, shrug your shoulders and move your feet. Tell yourself you’re fully alert, and when you are ready, resume your normal activities.

Alternatively, if it’s last thing at night and you wish to go to sleep, simply drift off (telling yourself that you will wake refreshed and re-energised in the morning).

Conclusion

Relaxation has many proven benefits – studies carried out by leading doctors and psychologists show that this is not in doubt. It is a skill easily acquired through practice. If you find it hard to begin with, don’t worry, just persist. Most of the early problems you encounter will soon disappear, and you’ll quickly find you feel better, happier, more content and more peaceful.

©David Lawrence Preston, 23.10.2018

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A Good Night’s Sleep

Everyone knows what a struggle the day can be if they haven’t had a good night’s sleep. Our energy and performance levels suffer, and so do our stress levels and our mood. Yet we can’t ‘make’ ourselves go to sleep and more than we can make ourselves remember things.

More than a third of adults have problems sleeping. If you’re one of them, you don’t have to suffer. There are many things you can do to help yourself without resorting to drastic and potentially risky measures like sleeping pills:

  1. First of all, try to maintain regular bed times and wake times, including weekends.
  2. Eat early – at least two hours before you go to bed. It takes this long to digest a meal. Late eating can cause indigestion, which disturbs sleep. A regular waking time in the morning strengthens the circadian function and helps with getting to sleep at night.
  3. Drinking close to bedtime can also disturb your sleep, so avoid drinking within two hours of bedtime and don’t drink stimulants (such as tea and coffee) after 6pm. An early evening drink such as chamomile tea can be helpful. Avoid alcohol – it may help you fall asleep but will dehydrate you, causing you to wake early with a dry mouth and throat.
  4. Exercise regularly, but don’t do anything strenuous within three hours of bedtime. Late afternoon is the best time. Regular exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and helps you sleep more deeply, but exercising close to bedtime makes falling asleep more difficult. It makes you more alert and raises body temperature (a cooler body temperature facilitates sleep).
  5. A very pleasant way to drift off to sleep is to practise physical and mental relaxation. Use a relaxation CD or DVD if it helps. Practise during the day so that when you need it the skill is easily used.
  6. Deep, rhythmic breathing helps enormously if you want to get to sleep. Combine it with visualising a peaceful scene.
  7. Clear your mind. An active mind interferes with sleep. If your mind is over active as bedtime approaches, write down whatever you are thinking about. Listing things you have to do tomorrow helps prevent worrying. Keep work-related things out of the bedroom – these may trigger anxious thoughts.
  8. Nightly rituals can send a strong message to the unconscious that it is time for sleep, for example, a warm bath, listening to soothing music or reading something calming in bed.
  9. Remember, we all need different amounts of sleep. Try out a few things, find what works for you, and don’t worry if you’re not sleeping as much as other family members. They may need more than you.

Ironically, the thing that prevents people sleeping the most is worrying that they won’t be able to sleep, so practise relaxation, and if you fancy it take up meditation.

Many people have overcome sleeping problems using the above techniques.

©David Lawrence Preston, 10.5.2019

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Healing and Creative Imagery

Creative Imagery (visualization) is an invaluable healing tool with proven health benefits. It can reduce chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, cholesterol and the stress hormone cortisol. It boosts brain function, the immune system and the heart and circulation. When we relax and focus our minds, we stimulate the life forces within, allowing the body to regenerate itself.

Moreover, when we send loving thoughts to a body part and affirm life flowing through it, we direct healing forces to it. A gentle focus of attention is all it takes to free the body of minor ailments, and more serious conditions can be relieved with regular practice. It can also prevent medical problems.

Try this: when in a relaxed state, take your awareness to your body and notice any pain or discomfort – you’ll find your attention wants to go there. There are lessons to be learned, so ask your Higher Self what your body trying to tell you. Then make the necessary adjustments to your habits or lifestyle.

How to use Creative Imagery for healing

Creative Imagery has been used for decades by eminent doctors such as Dr Carl Simonton, Dr Bernie Segal, Dr Milton Erickson and Dr Dean Ornish. They have written extensively about their techniques.

The following is typical of the type of healing routines they employ:

  1. Thoroughly relax your body and mind. Focus on your breath; imagine it as a form of healing energy. As you exhale, mentally direct this healing energy to the injured part., Affirm, ‘My …. Is healed and strong.’
  2. Next, visualise the part as already healed. If it is a cut, see the flesh smooth and unscarred; if a break, see the bone neatly knitted together. If there is any swelling, see the joint back to its normal size. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what a broken bone or sprained muscle looks like – imagine how it will look once healed and let your unconscious take care of the rest.
  3. Thirdly, visualise yourself doing all the things you will be able to do once you have fully recovered. Remember, focus your mind on what you want, not what you don’t, and you will be surprised how the healing process is speeded up.

Healing with white light

Healing energies are often visualised as white light. White light symbolises loving, healing energy. For example:

  1. Imagine yourself resting in a sanctuary bathed in pure white light. Go within and release your inner healing energies.
  1. See the symptoms clearing, the light of pure love working on the body, strengthening and supporting, mending the joints and muscles, disease and negativity flowing out of the body.
  1. Visualise your body bathed in light, strong, healthy, doing everything you want it to.
  1. See the body infused with light and affirm: My body is strong and healthy. All my muscles and organs work in perfect harmony. Vitalizing energy floods my whole consciousness and I am healed.

With proper self-management, doctors would rarely be required, but you must adopt good habits or sooner of later the body will demand attention and force you to change. Remember, good habits are not just to be adopted when you are ill. Prevention is better than cure, and positive attitudes, wise words, creative imagery and loving actions are among the best form of prevention.

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 15.11.2016

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How to meditate

Meditation is highly beneficial and easily learned. I recommend you start with the method developed by the late Dr Herbert Benson – a leading health researcher – and his colleagues.  It is effective and has no religious associations.

  1. First find a quiet place, sit quietly in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Sit in a firm-backed chair with spine erect and hands either on the lap or the arms of the chair; or cross-legged on the floor with hands in lap.
  2. Relax all your muscles in turn, starting with your feet and moving progressively to your head and face. Affirm, ‘I now relax and let go’. Release any tension gently, and turn your thoughts inward.
  3. Pay attention to your breathing. Breathe naturally through your nose. Don’t force it. As you breathe out, silently and mentally say the word ‘One’. Breathe in. Breathe out – say ‘one’. Breathe in. Breathe out – say ‘one’ – and so on. When you breathe in, imagine you are breathing in Universal Consciousness, connecting you to your inner power and integrating it into all aspects of your existence.
  4. If your mind wanders, keep bringing it back; it is not necessary to empty the mind of all thoughts. Stay centred, calm and peaceful.
  5. Just maintain a passive attitude and let it happen at its own pace. If necessary, stretch, or get up and move around and try again.
  6. Don’t worry about achieving a deep level of relaxation. Worry interferes with the process, and in any case the more you practise, the easier it becomes.
  7. Build up slowly. Meditate for 10 minutes at first, then build up slowly to 30 or 40 minutes or even an hour. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm.
  8. To finish, sit quietly for several minutes with eyes closed, then open them and sit for a few minutes more. Take a few deep breaths and ease yourself back into normal activity. When finished, get up and go about your usual business.

Meditation is not complicated. Practice, but don’t expect miracles. You may find your first few meditations frustrating, but don’t worry, a wandering mind is part of the process. Some sessions are bound to feel better than others and there will be periods when you seem to be making no progress. This is quite normal.

When you learn to meditate, you take huge strides forward in other areas too:

  • You become more aware and accepting: of yourself, other people and what is going on around you.
  • You are more aware of synchronistic events, and able to make sense of them.
  • You understand that everything and everyone is exactly as they should be. (Before you protest that there are too many injustices in the world to take this view, please appreciate this is not a recipe for inertia and complacency. If you decide change is necessary and resolve to do something about it, this too is exactly as it should be.)
  • You become more forgiving: you gradually cease bearing grudges, clinging to resentment and looking for someone or something to blame.
  • You are in touch with the voice of your inner conscience, and have the courage to act on it.
  • You realise that the only certainty in life is uncertainty: that everything is impermanent and nothing ever stays the same.

When you meditate, you experience a state of inner tranquillity that can carry you through even the most stressful situations. Your inner self assumes a progressively greater role in your life, bringing feelings of happiness and peace previously unimagined. Isn’t that exactly what you want?

You probably won’t have any extraordinary mystical experiences, but this isn’t the point; your life will certainly change for the better!

©David Lawrence Preston, 30.6.2016

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Creating a wonderful life with Creative Imagery

We all have a goal-seeking mechanism housed in the unconscious which takes us where the unconscious believes we want to go.  It is best influenced by:

1. Repetition – continually and consciously focussing on positive thoughts and images – effective if you persist going long enough; and

2. Creative imagery – relaxing into Alpha State (deep relaxation) and feeding in positive pictures, words, sounds and sensations.

The techniques I’m about to share have been used by many people in all walks of life, and the results can be astounding. For instance, Clare was on the verge of a breakdown. She’d recently completed a lengthy training course, but had been unable to find suitable work. To make matters worse all the others on the course had found what they wanted. She was also desperate to resolve her accommodation problems. She shared a flat with an ex-boyfriend who was verbally abusive and occasionally violent. Above all she wanted to find a partner who would treat her well.

She learned to relax deeply every day and visualise herself doing the job she wanted and being well-paid for it; enjoying a caring and loving relationship; and sharing her flat with someone she liked. At first, she was sceptical, but after a couple of weeks she was getting the hang of it.

I didn’t hear from her for several weeks. Then I received a letter out of the blue. The ex-boyfriend had moved out, she’d found a well-paid job, joined a health club and made a new circle of friends. She had also struck up a good relationship with a man she’d met at the club. Things were definitely on the up.

I’ve taught these methods to people suffering from fear of flying, needles, dentists, lifts, reptiles and insects; people about to take examinations, driving tests or face difficult interviews; sportsmen and women keen to improve their performances; people with sexual problems or addictions of one sort or another, and many, many more.

1. Make Creative Imagery a habit

Find twenty minutes every day when you will be undisturbed. Go to a quiet place, switch off the mobile and put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door. Any time is good, but first thing in the morning and last thing at night are especially beneficial because the mind is naturally most receptive at these times. It is also a good idea to ‘visualise’ the way you would like your day to go when you’re waking up.

2. Be clear on what you’re trying to achieve

Plan each session in advance. Choose one or two goals at a time, or, better still, concentrate on one or two for a whole week.

If you find you have difficulty remembering your routine, record it onto a suitable device and listen while you’re relaxed.

3. Relax deeply

Use your favourite techniques to relax into Alpha Level.

4. Imagine a mental screen

Imagine that you have a screen inside your forehead, just above eye level, rather like a cinema screen. Practise making images until you are totally comfortable with it. In time, you’ll be able to use it at will.

5. Allow your chosen images etc. to materialise

Creative imagery is a passive process. The unconscious cannot be hurried. Be patient, don’t force it, and don’t get frustrated if results don’t come immediately.

6. Give them impact

If the images, sounds and feelings you create are to have impact on your unconscious, they must be as clear and vibrant as you can make them.

  • Create colour images and make them as bright as possible.
  • Visualise moving images rather than stills.
  • ‘See’ them in three dimensions.
  • Place them at the centre of your mental screen.
  • Use all five senses if possible. In most cases, you’ll be able to use at least three. For example, if you’re mentally rehearsing a tennis match, ‘see’ the court, the ball, your opponent, etc., ‘hear’ the strings striking the ball, ‘feel’ the racquet in your hand, the sun on your face and the sweat on your forehead (fill in as many details as you can). Project as much feeling as you can.

7. Reinforce with auto-suggestion

Reinforce creative imagery with auto-suggestion. One effective form of words is: ‘I’m so happy. Now I see myself with/doing…’ etc.

8. Imagine a perfect outcome

Imagine exactly what you want to impress on the unconscious –  choose thought-forms and images that symbolise success – the medal round your neck, the crowd applauding, signing the contract, enjoying your ideal relationship, breaking the winning tape, starting the job, etc.

9. See it through your own eyes

Even if you feel at this stage that you can’t achieve perfection, don’t let this deter you from imagining it. You wouldn’t programme a missile to strike somewhere near the target, would you? The fact that your desire is registered in your unconscious will guide you closer to the real thing.

When you ‘visualise’, you could either ‘watch’ yourself like a spectator, from a distance (‘second position’); or ‘picture’ or ‘experience’ the situation through your own eyes as if you were a participant (‘first position’).

For example, if you were mentally rehearsing yourself on stage, you could either watch yourself as if sat in the audience (this is ‘second position’), or you could imagine on-stage looking out into the auditorium, hearing the audience applauding, feeling the boards beneath your feet etc. ‘First position’ has a much more powerful effect on the unconscious.

If your aim is to acquire a material object, imagine yourself already in possession of it. E.g. if it’s a new car you want, imagine the view from driver’s seat rather than looking in at yourself behind the wheel.

10. Generate as much emotion as you can

Hold your goals in your mind until you can literally feel them coming true. Emotions attract and create energy. The more power and energy you put into your creative imagery, the more quickly your desires will manifest.

11. Practise

Practise every day, even if nothing seems to happen. The results cannot fail to materialise and your confidence in the technique will grow.

12. Take action

Creative imagery eases the way to success, but you still need to do whatever has to be done. So do something every day that takes you closer to your goal. Action also strengthens your self-confidence.

Creative imagery is like planting seeds. First clear the weeds (the doubts and fears), prepare the ground, sow the seeds, add fertiliser, water frequently – and wait. Your creative and intuitive powers will be awakened. It may take a while to take root and for the first shoots to appear, but if you trust in nature and keep up with the watering (lots of positive thought-forms and constructive action), your faith will be repaid every time.

 

© David Lawrence Preston, 12.5.2016

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How your imagination can give you a lift

The poet, John Masefield, wrote, ‘Man’s body is faulty, his mind untrustworthy, but his imagination has made him remarkable.’

Albert Einstein, one of the geniuses of the 20th Century, said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. It is a preview of life’s coming attractions.’

When asked where he got ideas for his paintings, Vincent Van Gogh replied, ‘First I dream my painting, then I paint my dream.’

This is how life is too. We imagine how are lives will be, then busily set about living as our imagination dictates. We create an image of ourselves, and become the image we have created.

What is ‘imagination’?

Imagination is bringing to mind something that is not wholly present in a material sense. It the very essence of our creativity. A good imagination is not just the preserve of children and artists – it is part of everyone’s mental equipment.

There are two forms of imagination:

  • Artificial imagination rearranges old ideas, concepts or plans into new combinations. We can bring past events and experiences into the imagination.
  • Creative imagination is the means by which new ideas, hunches and inspirations are received. We can imagine future events and experiences. We can imagine things that never existed. We can imagine the likely consequences of our actions. We can also imagine things we cannot detect through our senses – Beethoven for instance, could imagine musical sounds after he went deaf.

Everything we do starts out as a thought or picture in our mind. Indeed, everything that has ever been created by a human being originated as a thought or mental image. Stonehenge, television, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Great Wall of China, the internet, Apollo moon landings….. all started out as ideas. Any idea, even the briefest flash of insight, that is acted upon with ingenuity and determination eventually takes a tangible form.

The imagination develops and strengthens with use, just as any muscle of the body can become stronger. It can bring hope – or utter despair. It can also stimulate the emotions and affect the physical body.  So begin applying your imagination to:

  •  Your home – how might you improve the inside, the outside, the garden, make it more interesting, comfortable, pleasing?
  • Your work – how could you make it more fun, more useful, more productive?
  • Relationships: How could you be a better husband/wife/son/daughter/ parent/friend etc.?
  • Your personality – how could you overcome unwanted habits and bring your ideal self-image into reality?

Imagination in practice

Nowadays:

  • Sportsmen and women use their imaginations (in the form of creative imagery) to help them win matches and break world records.
  • Business executives use it to help secure lucrative contracts, make better sales presentations and earn promotion.
  • Medical practitioners (complementary therapists and mainstream practitioners) teach patients to rid themselves of serious diseases using relaxation and creative imagery.
  • Well-known entertainers use creative imagery to improve their confidence and banish stage fright.
  • Students learn better using creative imagery and autosuggestion, improve their memories and reduce the stress of exams.

Let’s take a look at some of the achievements made possible by these remarkable techniques.

Sport

When the Berlin Wall fell, it came to light that among the most jealously guarded secrets of the East German State were the training methods used by Eastern bloc athletes. Performance enhancing drugs were not the whole story by any means. A Bulgarian psychiatrist, Dr Georgi Lozonov, pioneered a new method of mental training that incorporated deep relaxation and creative imagery. In the West, experiments had demonstrated the power of visualisation and mental rehearsal in sport, but they had not been as widely or thoroughly applied.

It is now accepted that if you imprint winning images into your mind at a deep enough level, you greatly increase your chances of success.

Any professional athlete will tell you that mental training is equally as important as the physical, but the benefits are not restricted to professionals – they’re available to everyone (including those who rarely break into a sweat).

Business

Prior to important sales calls, negotiations, job interviews and presentations etc., many top business executives ‘mentally rehearse’.  They take time to relax, ‘see’ themselves acting and speaking calmly and confidently, signing the contract, accepting the promotion. By the time they come to do it for real, the situation holds no fear for them and they perform at their best.

Education

Students use deep relaxation and creative imagery to improve their memory, lose their fear of exams and stay calm. For instance, Steve was worried about his exams. With less than a month to go and a university place at stake, he prepared a précis of the information he would need in the exam. He recorded it onto a CD and listened to it in ‘Alpha’ several times a day. He visualised himself in the exam room, feeling calm. He used the ‘thumb and fingers trigger’ to help him feel cool and composed quickly and easily and used a powerful memory affirmation.

Steve comfortably achieved his grades. ‘I thought I’d cheated the system,’ he said, ‘until I realised I’d just discovered a way to make my mind work better – and surely that’s what it’s all about.’

Healing

Creative imagery is a vital tool for practitioners of complementary therapies and also mainstream medicine to help patients maintain good health and recover from serious diseases, including cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

Cancer surgeons and authors Dr Carl Simonton and Dr Bernie Segal taught their patients to visualise tumours reversing and cancer disappearing. The heart specialist Dr Dean Ornish used creative imagery in conjunction with nutrition, physical exercise and group therapy to clear coronary heart blockages. All three have written extensively about their work.

I have known people with physical conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, muscular aches and pains, frozen shoulders, eczema and psychosomatic conditions as varied as blushing, exam nerves, fear of flying, bed wetting and numerous phobias find relief this way.

Entertainment

Actors, musicians, comedians etc. use mental rehearsal to perfect their routines. It is also widely taught to aspiring stars of stage and screen.

A young music student consulted me about stage fright a few years ago. She was taking beta blockers to try and calm her nerves, but they weren’t having much effect. I advised her to do a daily relaxation and visualisation exercise. Within six weeks of daily practice, most of the symptoms were gone and she was able to come off the drugs. Three months later she played the solo part in a difficult Mozart Concerto in front of a large audience.

Summary

There are thousands of well documented examples of creative imagery making a huge impact on performance in all areas of life. The techniques are not difficult to learn (I’ll spell them out in future blogs), but need to be practised regularly, then you can use mental rehearsal as a vital part of your preparation whatever your activities or interests.

©David Lawrence Preston, 6.5.2016

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Self-Hypnosis Script for Calmness and Confidence

This self-hypnosis routine will help you to develop a deep sense of inner calmness and confidence so you feel more appreciative towards yourself, more capable and more in control.  The more you use it, the more you’ll create a deep inner feeling of peace and calmness and the better the results.

Warning

Make sure you have about twenty minutes to spare before you start, and never listen when you’re driving or operating machinery. And remember, no matter how deeply you relax, should anything happen which requires your attention, your eyes will open and you’ll instantly be fully alert.

You may amend this script if you wish to incorporate specific suggestions and creative imagery to help you with any aspect of your personal development.

Read it onto a recording device. Speak slowly and deliberately, in a monotonous tone of voice.

Make yourself very comfortable. Either sit or lie down in a comfortable position with your head and neck supported. Uncross your legs. Slacken any tight clothing or jewelry. Let your hands flop gently by your side or in your lap. Relax. Let go of all tension.

Now, without moving your head, focus your gaze on a spot on the ceiling. When your eyelids start to feel heavy, and you feel you want to shut your eyes, don’t resist, just let them close. Gently release all thoughts, cares and concerns. Allow yourself to be completely relaxed and comfortable.

Take your attention to your breath. Take a nice, deep breath. Breathe in slowly and deeply – completely fill your chest and lungs, right down to your stomach. Breathe out slowly and think of the word, ‘relax’. Let your breath flow in slowly – and out slowly. If your attention wanders, keep bringing it back to your breath.

Calm

As you breathe in, imagine you’re breathing in peace and calmness… and as you breathe out, let go of all tightness and tension. Every breath taking you deeper and deeper into relaxation. Notice all tension and discomfort dissolving away as you relax even more. Feel peace flowing down through your body, from the top of your head down to the tips of your toes.

Now close your eyes and let those tiny muscles around your eyes relax, your eyes so heavy, so drowsy, so tired, they just won’t open.

And imagine your whole body relaxing. Concentrate on each part of your body in turn. You’re growing more relaxed and more tired with every breath you’re taking. All your muscles are going soft and loose and floppy.

Let that drowsy, relaxed feeling spread out from your eyes, into your forehead. Let your scalp relax. Relax the back of your head. Relax the muscles in your neck. Become aware of the muscles in your face – your cheeks, your jaw, your lips – and relax those muscles until they’re all soft and limp, as if you’re very deeply asleep.

Allow the sensation of deep relaxation to flow down through your entire body, all the way down to your toes. Let that warm, heavy feeling of peace and calmness flow down into your shoulders. Release all tension. Then allow the feeling to flow down your arms, down into your elbows, down into your wrists, hands and fingers. Feel how heavy and warm are your arms. Heavy and relaxed. Relaxed and heavy.

Every breath taking you deeper and deeper into relaxation.

Now feel that warm, relaxed heaviness creeping down from your shoulders, down into your chest, down into your stomach. Soften and relax your stomach muscles and solar plexus. And let that relaxed, heavy feeling flow down your spine, into your hips, your buttocks, down into your legs. Beyond your knees into your shins, calves and ankles. Your legs, relaxed and heavy. Now your feet and toes are feeling heavy. Let your feet go heavy – heavy and relaxed, like heavy weights on the end of your legs. Heavy and relaxed.

You can continue to let go until you’ve reached the deepest level of complete relaxation.

And soon, you’re going to relax even more. In a moment I’ll say the word ‘relax’, and when you hear me say that word every muscle in your body will let go, and your entire body will sink down completely and utterly limp. This is such a pleasant, comfortable feeling, you may even forget about your body altogether and enter the deepest, most relaxed state you’ve ever known.

Relax.

That’s it, let every single muscle relax, let all tension ebb away and a feeling of calmness flow down from your head, into your neck and shoulders, down your arms, down your abdomen, down into your legs and feet. Sinking further down into relaxation with every breath you’re taking, enjoying this feeling of peace and calmness.

And now I’m going to count down from ten to zero, and as I count down, think of yourself going down a flight of steps into complete calmness and tranquillity. Think of each number as a step down, deeper and deeper, so by the time you reach number one, you’ll be more relaxed than ever before.

And when you hear the word, ‘zero’, you’ll fall into a deep, deep sleep, the deepest, most relaxed state you’ve ever known, listening to my voice and enjoying this feeling of peace and calmness.

10   9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1    Zero

Imagine now you’re lying in a calm and peaceful place, beside a quiet lake, surrounded by trees shimmering in the warmth of a summer’s day. Above, a clear, blue sky and the bright yellow sun warming your body and making you feel safe and comfortable. The beauty of nature all around you – so quiet, so still, there isn’t even a ripple on the surface of the water.

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The more you relax your body and move into this tranquil place, the more you’ll be in touch with your inner self.

And when this relaxation is over, these suggestions will remain so firmly embedded in your mind that they will continue to influence your thoughts, your feelings and your actions just as surely, just as strongly as if you were still relaxing. This inner feeling of calmness and confidence, peace and tranquillity will remain with you in everything you do.

In fact, as each day goes by you’ll feel yourself becoming more and more calm and relaxed. So whatever you’re doing, wherever you are or whomever is with you, you’ll feel a greater sense of personal well-being, more warm and loving towards yourself.

Every day, becoming calmer, more cheerful, more positive and more confident. More confident about what you’re doing. More confident and optimistic about the future. More and more confident about yourself, your capabilities and your relationships. You’ll find that things which used to worry and upset you will lose their power over you. You’ll find it easier to cope even under pressure. Cool, calm, confident and in control.

Sleep

And now, you’re going to hear some positively phrased suggestions for your continuing calmness and confidence. Mentally repeating these affirmations to yourself will imprint them firmly on your unconscious.

  • I used to be less confident, but all that is changing. Now I am always cool, calm, confident and in control.
  • I deserve happiness, prosperity and success. No-one deserves them more than I.
  • I feel warm and loving towards myself. I like myself. I am a strong and worthy person.
  • Every day, I keep my thoughts positive, for I am the result of what I think.
  • Whatever my mind can conceive and believe, I can achieve.
  • Every day in every way, I feel better and better.

(Note: you can insert any affirmation or ‘visualisation’ here.)

As each day goes by, you’ll be calmer, more confident, more in control. You’ll cope with people and events much more easily. You’ll feel better and free to be yourself. Free to enjoy life more fully. Free to head confidently in the direction of your dreams.

Now if you’re listening at bedtime, ignore the next few sentences and drift off into a comfortable and satisfying sleep. You’ll awake at the appropriate time feeling re-energised, knowing that every time you listen to this relaxation you feel calmer, more confident and more positive.

But if you want to resume your activities, feel yourself becoming more alert now, waking up, feeling better than before. When I say ‘open your eyes’, you’ll be wide awake and ready to continue withyour activities, fully alert, more confident and more positive than ever before.

OK. Open your eyes now. Wide awake, feeling good.

Now smile, have a good stretch, get up slowly and resume your activities.

(If you have difficulty and need help relaxing, try this: http://www.feelinggoodallthetime.com/articles/the-chillout/.  Helps calm and relax the body and promote healthy sleep by restoring its natural rhythms.)

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Copyright David Lawrence Preston, 26.4.2016

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How To Books, 2010