Relax the Back of Your Neck

You’ll migrate towards the same people each week, but how much do you really talk to them? Get to know someone, more than at just surface level. Ask probing questions like, If you invented a superpower, what would it be? I’d like you to notice, though, if you’re surprised by anything else you might notice. Now, I’d like you to notice how much more comfortable you can feel by just taking one very big, satisfying deep breath. You may already notice how good that feels, how warm your neck and shoulders can feel. Now then, I’d like you to take four more very deep, very comfortable breaths, and as you exhale, notice just how comfortable your shoulders can become. And notice how comfortable your eyes can feel when they close. And when they close, just let them stay closed. That’s right, just notice that. And notice, too, how, when you exhale, you can feel that relaxation beginning to sink in. Good, that’s fine. Now as you continue breathing, comfortably and deeply and rhythmically, all I’d like you to do is to picture in your mind, just imagine a staircase, any kind you like, with 20 steps and you at the top. None of this already-invented superpower business. That’s boring. You can travel to the past, before a huge disaster, with the ability to warn people, but you might get stoned or burned as a witch, or you can travel twenty seconds into the future every day. Which do you choose? Work on current relationships. Work on maintaining the relationships you have. Develop deeper bonds with people.

Do you really know their hopes and fears, wishes, and dreams? Go out of your way to stay in touch. Most friendships are built on convenience – when it’s convenient for both or all parties to talk or hang out. Now, you don’t need to see all 20 steps at once, you can see any or all of the staircase, any way you like. That’s fine. Just notice yourself at the top of the staircase, and the step you’re on, and any others you like. However you see it is fine. Now, in a moment, but not yet, I’m going to begin to count out loud from one to 20, and as you may already have guessed, as I count each number I’d like you to take a step down that staircase. See yourself stepping down, feel yourself stepping, one step for each number I count. And all you need to do is notice, just notice, how much more comfortable and relaxed you can feel at each step, as you go down the staircase. One step for each number that I count, the larger the number, the farther down the staircase. The farther down the staircase, the more comfortable you can feel. One step for each number. Texting is a great way to let them know you’re thinking about them, and they’ll respond when they can. It’s also a great way to miscommunicate, but that can be done in any medium. Positive Mindfulness Be mindful of positive experiences. Practicing mindfulness while you’re doing something you enjoy helps to savor the moment. Stay focused on the positive experience and refocus your mind as often as necessary. This will get you in the habit of mindfulness and focusing on the positive aspects of the day or the moment.

The more we focus on something, the more we notice it. That’s just how our brains work. That’s not to say it is actually more prevalent, but it is certainly more prevalent in our minds, which is where we have to live, so we may as well learn to enjoy the company. All right, you can begin to get ready. Now I’m going to begin. That’s fine. And maybe you already notice how much more relaxed you can feel. I wonder if there are places in your body that feel more relaxed than others. Perhaps your shoulders feel more relaxed than your neck. Perhaps your legs feel more relaxed than your arms. I don’t know, and it really doesn’t matter. All that matters it that you feel comfortable. That’s all. Be unmindful of worries. Distract yourself from thinking you don’t deserve this happiness, or wondering when the positive experience will end or thinking about what chores need to be done elsewhere. Distract yourself from thinking about what awaits you at the end of the positive experience, or worrying about how much money you’re spending on it. If you’re at the circus, for example, instead of thinking, `I don’t deserve to be enjoying this,’ focus on your surroundings – children laughing, cotton candy, the rides, the clowns, unless you have a deep fear of clowns. You might not want to focus on them then. Damn you, Stephen King! There is a lot of material in this section, and no one expects you to conquer it overnight.

You shouldn’t either. Like any habit, it needs to be practiced before it becomes an actual habit. And then it still needs to be practiced. I wonder if the deep relaxing, restful heaviness in your forehead is already across your face, into your mouth and jaw. Down your neck, deep, restful, heavy. Perhaps beginning to notice that the sounds which were distracting become less so. That all the sounds you can hear become a part of your experience of comfort and relaxation. Anything you can notice becomes a part of your experience of comfort and relaxation. Perhaps noticing the heavy, restful, comfortably relaxing feeling spreading down into your shoulders, into your arms. I wonder if you notice one arm feeling heavier than the other. Perhaps your left arm feels a bit heavier than your right. Perhaps your right arm feels heavier than your left. I don’t know, perhaps they both feel equally, comfortably heavy. Be Mindful of Positive Emotions Get in the habit of noticing your emotions and recognizing whether they’re negative or positive. When they’re negative, get in the habit of not dwelling on them. When they’re positive, get in the habit of being mindful of the actual emotion. I’m happy right now. It feels warm. It feels calm.

Describe how the emotion feels, instead of getting caught up in why you’re happy or peaceful, or what have you. Using the Opposite to Emotion Action What actions do you do with negative emotions? It really doesn’t matter. Just letting yourself become more and more aware of the comfortable heaviness. Or is it a feeling of lightness? I really don’t know and it really doesn’t matter. Perhaps wondering about the fluttering of your heavy eyelids. Noticing that heaviness really beginning to sink in as you continue to notice the pleasant, restful, comfortable relaxation just spread through your body. Feeling so pleasantly restful, just continuing to notice the growing, spreading, comfortable relaxation. Noticing maybe that as you feel increasingly heavy, more and more comfortable, there’s nothing to bother you, nothing to disturb you, as you become deeper and deeper relaxed. I wonder if you notice how easily you can hear the sound of my voice. How easily you can understand the words I say with nothing to bother, nothing to disturb. They’re probably the go-to actions, preprogrammed by your psyche. It takes time, but you can reprogram your psyche by using the opposite actions you normally use. When you’re afraid, your brain kicks in to fight, flight, or freeze mode. In some instances, this is still a vital response mechanism developed for our own safety. In other instances, the response mode has been passed down from our hunter/gatherer ancestors and serves no real purpose today. For example, test anxiety. A test doesn’t present the need for a fight/flight/freeze response that imminent death, beating, rape, a car accident, or a full-grown saber-toothed tiger would pose.

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