The chill factor

A laid-back Cotton Ward imagines she’s a tree and lets her cares slip away.

Transcendental Meditation
www.tm.org

You don’t need a long beard and flowing white robes to gain the full benefits of US-based Maharishi Mahesh’s method. Download the free online video and book that teaches you how to do it properly. As you become more advanced, try “yogic flying”, which involves the body lifting up and moving “forward in short hops”. It’s best to practise this in groups so you can create a surge of energy that promotes “positive, harmonious trends” throughout society.

Mind, body and modem

www.bodymindandmodem.com

If yogic flying isn’t impressive enough, wow your friends by making it impossible for even the strongest challenger to bend your arm or lift you off the ground. Aikido Kokikai is a martial art based on the philosophy that with correct relaxation, your body and mind become more powerful. Relax by focusing on one point, correcting your posture, and doing “ki” exercises to develop your mystical inner force.

The Anxiety Panic Internet Resource

www.algy.com/anxiety/relax.html

Terrified of the dentist? Or eating in public? Or of your partner’s driving? This site was started by a teacher in Tennessee (identified only as “Steve”) to advise people on how to relax during panic attacks. There are heaps of suggestions, including visualisation, muscular relaxation, abdominal breathing and “meditative” gardening (not the Backyard Blitz variety).

The Charlotte Community of Mindfulness

www.coe.uncc.edu/~billchu/sangha

You’ll be watching every move you make when you join in the meditation for mindful living at this US-based Buddhist group’s site. There’s a handy icon to click so your computer will make a bell sound every five minutes as you do a five-step recitation.

First, burn some incense, then dwell on various forms of suffering and injustice and vow to cultivate “compassion”, “loving kindness” and “deep listening” and to practise “mindful eating, drinking and consuming”.

Visit the Stress-O-Meter

www.relax123.com/som/som_f.html

Find out just how close to the edge you are using the Stress-O-Meter. If you score highly it suggests you use techniques such as imagining you are a mighty tree or an unravelling ball of string.

Sam Houston State University Counselling Centre relaxation techniques

www.shsu.edu/~counsel/relaxation.html
“Please lean back in your chair. Make yourself comfortable …” You’ll learn how to achieve deep muscular relaxation using the traditional Western method of progressively tensing and relaxing each part of your body. There’s a full script aimed at online users and it encourages you to take some time to look away from your screen and scan your body for any “tensional spots”.

HypnoGenesis

www.hypnos.co.uk/hypnomag

“When I snap my fingers, you will start doing a striptease …” Embarrassing? You bet. But hypnosis is about more than television theatrics, where it is sometimes presented as an evil power that takes over your mind. It is most often used for therapeutic purposes to improve mental, emotional and physical health. HypnoGenesis is an online magazine that seeks to “demystify” hypnosis. Topics featured include subliminal suggestions and how to tell whether you are hypnotised.

Insight Meditation Online

www.aspire.org/walk.html

Don’t fancy being tied up in a knot holding the lotus position for hours? Then try a walking meditation. Here you’ll find illustrated photos of how to properly raise, lift, push, drop, touch and press down with your foot. Intense awareness is essential. It’s best to start with walking meditation and then do a sitting session without a break so you develop a “continuity of awareness” that carries through into daily activities.

What is EEG Biofeedback?

www.eegspectrum.com/articles/faq.htm

Biofeedback is a type of Aerobics Oz Style designed for the brain. It can be used to train yourself to reach deeper stages of relaxation. Electrodes are placed on the scalp using gel and two others are attached to the ear lobes to monitor your brainwaves. Then you’re coached to consciously change the patterns displayed on a screen. Don’t worry – there are no electric shocks. It’s painless and the first session usually takes about two hours and follow-ups last about 40 minutes.

Integration of Behavioural and Relaxation Approaches

http://text.nlm.nih.gov/nih/ta/www/017txt.html

Which is better? Relaxation or behaviour modification? This research looks at studies about reducing chronic pain and insomnia. The conclusion is that there is “strong evidence” for using relaxation techniques to reduce chronic pain and for using hypnosis to alleviate pain associated with cancer. The behavioural therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and biofeedback, had moderate results, depending on the problem.

Meditation therapy screensavers

www.meditationtherapy.com

Be the most laid-back person in your office by downloading one of three free screensavers. The first one, Floating Emptiness, features a rotating 3-D cube that presents images of a meditating monk and a dharma wheel of truth. The second, Triple Treasure, features three floating pyramids and the third, Jewel of Awakening, has images of seated buddhas. All are accompanied by meditative chants.

I’ll be there for you

The “fight-or-flight” response has been touted for years as the typical way people respond to stress. However, American research shows women prefer to “tend and befriend”. Women had been excluded from stress research until five years ago because it was believed that monthly fluctuations in hormones created stress responses that varied too much to be considered statistically valid.

ILLUSTRATION: Caught napping: being asleep is about as relaxed as you can get – just don’t try it at work. Photo: Tanya Lake
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