Relaxation is a popular and often requested session in our Choose Life Group. When people are experiencing life as being very stressful, demanding and at times painful with a lot of anxiety it can be very helpful to stop, and breath and find a sense of calm to escape for a few moments and get things into perspective again. This week we used a guided meditation from a website called meditainment. You can login to this website and use some of the meditations for free, we used ‘Deep Ocean-for total relaxation’ which allows you to swim with whales and hear whale song. It was good to experience this as a group, people did feel stilled and relaxed after it and a little distanced from the everyday chatter. For some swimming with whales brought on a sense of being accepted unconditionally. Others enjoyed the imaginary experiencing of being deep in the ocean so much that they could have stayed there all day. If we can learn to manage day to day stress, this will help us to combat overall anxiety.
The following is a transcribed extract from a SMART Recovery podcast by Dr. Bill Knaus
Well over 40 years of research amply demonstrates that serene nature scenes reduce stress, you could put this knowledge to use to lower your stress and to take better advantage of opportunities to lessen your anxieties and feel more in command of yourself and your life. How much exposure of natural scenes do you need? Well as little as five minutes a day of walking in nature can have a positive effect. But what if you can’t get out and walk everyday? Can observing pristine nature scenes make a difference for you? Well you don’t have to be in nature to enjoy the benefits, a nature scene painting or photo can calm the mind and feel relaxing, but not all nature scenes stimulate tranquillity, imagine yourself in nature and all of a sudden you see a bear running in your direction you probably high tail it out of there. So a nature scene with a bear that appears to be charging is probably not going to be a very serene scene. But, there are some ingredients that science has found useful to promote a sense of serenity, and a sense of thriving for that matter. That is, blue skies, green fields and water, but it’s not just, blue skies, green fields and water-they exist in an open landscape possibly a setting of rolling hills but that’s not necessary. The idea is that you are looking from a sheltered advantage point. You don’t see any dangers because you can look ahead and see any in advance, if you do see any dangers you have plenty of advance warning. So you are more comfortable in that type of setting, now you could add an ingredient such as a stream that winds into a wooded area it may also trigger a sense of curiosity, so you are not only going to feel more serene but also your curiosity is peaked, and curiosity can be a driving force so that you can move on onto something more active, more directed a greater sense of openness towards your experience and looking around to see what life is like for you. When your mind is tranquil you feel relaxed and you can’t at the same time feel stressed out. You may better see possibilities of the future and you may very well feel more forgiving of the past. Nature scenes can buffer you from stress and when you are less stressed you have more emotional reserves for coping with real and imaginary threats, such as tolerating addictive urges and keeping out of procrastination traps. Stress is inevitable, you know that and I know that but now you know how to build emotional reserves to buttress yourself against stress.
Dr. Bill Knaus is the foremost authority in the field of overcoming procrastination, and he is also renowned for his work in practical application of rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety and has written extensively on the subject, most recently in his newest revision of: The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Program (2014).