Jim George Bruce Kasanoff 25 PROVEN WAYS TO RELAX

25 Proven Ways to Relax

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Don't flip out! Guaranteed to make you smile. Created by Bruce Kasanoff and Jim George, author of Time to Make It Stop: The How of Now http://www.amazon.com/Time-Make-It-Stop-How/dp/0615690742

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Page 1: 25 Proven Ways to Relax

Jim George Bruce Kasanoff


Page 2: 25 Proven Ways to Relax


Page 3: 25 Proven Ways to Relax

There is a time to be tensed and ready, and a time to be relaxed and at ease. The more aware you become of the difference between these two states, the more likely you are to be in the right state at the right time. This guide helps you practice switching from tensed to relaxed… or from something in between to even more relaxed. People are different. You will discover some suggestions that you especially prefer. Focus on these, and do not worry about the rest.

P. S. On some pages we respond to Flip’s comments. Our replies follow this symbol:

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Awareness Progressive Relaxation


how this book is organized

Two ways to relax: unload or overload

Dramatic shifts in our state of consciousness become possible at either end of the spectrum. At the beginning of this book, we share ways to unload stress by unloading stimuli. Near the end, we explore ways to escape tension by overloading your senses, perhaps by going whitewater rafting or dancing in a packed concert hall.

unload overload

Change Your Patterns

Physical Activities

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1. Close your eyes 2. Use your breath to remind you to be “present” 3. Three-step breathing 4. Breathe into tension 5. Walking meditation 6. Write down what kind of person you want to be 7. Look at each human from a positive angle 8. Progressive awareness 9. Progressive relaxation 10. Toe tensing 11. Imaginary mini-vacation 12. Look at this 13. Perceive interconnections


14. Listen to crickets, waves or rain 15. Make a circle with your eyes 16. Eye see what you think 17. Reach out to an… animal 18. Convey affection 19. Drop your jaw (and relax your eyes) 20. Up against the wall 21. Just stretch 22. Be mobile 23. Juggle 24. Let the rhythm take “you” away 25. And now for something completely different

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In 1908, an Austrian Psychiatrist named Hans Berger discovered Alpha brain waves. Today we know that people who have more Alpha brain waves experience less stress and anxiety. In 1929 Berger demonstrated that closing the eyes decreases sensory input and increases alpha power. From an intuitive perspective, we know that your eyes collect vast amounts of information, all of which your brain must process. Thus, simply closing your eyes is one of the easiest and fastest ways to give yourself a refreshing break.

Close your eyes

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It is all too easy to race around worrying about the past or being obsessed with some future goal. But being relaxed depends on your ability to focus your attention here and now. Since you breathe every moment of every day, your breath is a wonderful anchor to pull you back to the present. All you have to do is pay attention to the feeling of air coming into your body and then being exhaled. That is it.

Use your breath to remind you to be “present”

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1.) Sit in a relaxed position for a few minutes, and notice how you normally breathe. 2.) Inhale deeply and slowly, filling up as much of your lungs as possible. Pause for a moment at the top of the breath, then slowly exhale. 3.) Take a moment to observe how you feel. This is the most important part. Look for any physical signs that your body is relaxing. Do not force anything… just observe, and then take another deep breath. Keep going in this simple pattern of deep breathing and observation for as long as you like. The longer you do it, the better you will feel.

Three-step breathing

Try this in a setting that makes you feel safe, such as indoors where there are no eagles or hawks flying above.

If you crave slightly more structure than “just be present” provides, this simple breathing exercise may perfect for you:

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Breathe into tension

Pick just one of your tense areas, and breathe into that. When you feel some relaxation, you can pick another area, if you like.

Wherever and whenever you recognize tension in a portion of your body, breathe into it. No, we do not mean blow on it… visualize your breath moving through the tense area. With each inhalation, visualize the fresh breath bringing healing energy that loosens your tension. With each exhalation, imagine the tension leaving your body.

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“Walking meditation means to enjoy walking without any intention to arrive,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the most widely read advocates of mindfulness. (This essentially means to devote your full attention to one and only one thing.) He explains that during walking meditation, you abandon any intention of arriving anywhere. You just walk. “Walking is only for walking. You enjoy every step you take. So this is a kind of revolution in walking. You allow yourself to enjoy every step you take.”

Walking meditation

Source: “Resting in the River,” Thich Nhat Hanh

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Although you may have spent years appearing to be a hard-charging professional or a conservative suburban parent, that may not be who you truly are. Write down some aspirations in a private journal or notebook. There is no pressure to get all your thoughts down on the first page. Feel free to take page after page to explore possibilities. Cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers, or print out images from online, and paste them into your notebook – all to better help you visualize the person you want to be. Keep at it. This may take many weeks, months, or even years. But the process itself feels good. Enjoy the journey.

Write down what kind of person you want to be

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In an interview, the Dalai Lama was asked whether he ever feels lonely. He surprised the interviewer by answering flatly, “No.” He explained that one reason for this was that he tries to “look at any human being from a more positive angle; I try to look for their positive aspects.” Become more aware of how you look at others, and yourself as well.

Look at each human from a positive angle

Source: “The Art of Happiness” by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

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Once you become accustomed to paying attention to your breath, take the next step: become aware of your body. Start with one of the simple breathing exercises, then when you are calm turn your awareness in turn to each major part of your body. Do nothing more than be aware whether that part is relaxed or tense, or something in between. Do not try to change, just be aware. Move from your head and face to your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, chest, stomach, pelvis and butt, thighs, legs, ankles, feet and toes. Pause at any point for as long as you like.

Progressive awareness

Your goal is to feel your body become increasingly relaxed. To feel, you need to stay awake.

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Progressive relaxation

Source: American Lung Association

Move in turn through each of the following muscle groups, tensing one group and holding it for about ten seconds, then releasing the tension and relaxing while you enjoy the relief from tension. Do these in turn: •  Raise your eyebrows, then release •  Open your mouth wide, stretching your jaw, then release •  Scrunch up your face, then release •  Bring your chin towards your chest, then release •  Tense your right hand and arm, then release

- Do the same for your left arm •  Tighten your stomach, then release •  Raise your right leg and tense it, then release

- Do the same for your left leg •  Take a few minutes to be aware of how all the muscles in your body feel. Just observe.

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Toe tensing

Source: University of Maryland Medical Center, Sleep Disorders Center

It may sound silly that tensing one little part of your body can help you relax, but this exercise actually can pull tension out of the rest of your body. (It’s a simpler version of Progressive Muscle Relaxation.)

1. Lie on your back and then close your eyes.

2. Become aware of your toes.

3. Pull your toes upwards towards your face, and hold the stretch to a count of ten.

4. Relax your toes. Ten seconds later, repeat the stretch. Do this a total of ten times. You can choose other single parts of your body and use this approach specifically in that area.

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Imaginary mini-vacation If you imagine a pleasant scene, you tend to relax. If you imagine a pressurized situation, your body starts to tighten. In both cases, you are stimulating the nerve cells in your brain that react to similar real life situations. To relax, imagine a setting or experience you consider inviting. It could be a favorite beach, a special time with a loved one, a walk down the winding paths of a small village, or simply the experience of lying on your back in a field of grass and watching the clouds drift by. Once you are comfortably within this imaginary experience, start touching things and pay attention to how they feel. Sniff around… are there any distinctive scents? The more you engage your senses, the more real - and relaxing – this imaginary escape will be.

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Watch a free a river flow, or gaze into a campfire. Lie on your back and stare at the clouds as they float by. Pick something you find both entrancing and reassuring, and give yourself permission to do nothing but gaze peacefully at it.

Look at this

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Many of the suggestions in this book identify a source at the bottom of the page. This one does not, because we wish to share a personal observation that may or may not be a scientific fact. The longer we practice the sort of relaxation techniques described in this book, the more we perceive a connection between everyone and everything. It is impossible to describe

this perception adequately in words (no, it does not look like a dotted line or a piece of string.) You just have to experience it for yourself.

To do this, you need to open your mind completely. You temporarily set aside all your thoughts hopes, fears, and preconceptions. Be patient… it takes a great deal of gentle practice.

Perceive interconnections

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The vast majority of people relax when they listen to the sound of crickets, gentle rain, or crashing waves. The same is true for the sound of a babbling brook. Whether you listen to the real thing, buy a recording, or simply imagine one of these sounds, focusing on these soothing sounds is likely to calm your mind and body.

Listen to crickets, waves or rain

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Ever notice that when people try to remember a detail, they look up and away? This is because our eyes are literally connected to our brains. Knowing this, you can use deliberate eye movements to dislodge from your mind an image or thought that is causing you stress. Just look down and to the right, without moving your head. Then look down and to the left, keeping your head still. Then circle your eyes around three times in a clockwise direction. Finally repeat the whole process, but at the end circle your eyes in a counterclockwise direction. The effect will not keep bad thoughts away forever, but it does give you enough of a break to find positive thoughts and images to replace the bad ones.

Make a circle with your eyes

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Your eyes often reveal how you are thinking. Neuro Linguistic Programming suggests that people use three types of thinking, each of which influences your eyes to focus differently: •  Visual thinking - you look up, to either side •  Auditory - you look to one side or the other •  Kinesthetic - you look down, to either side So, when we talk about our feelings, most of us look down. When we recall what we heard, we tend to look right down the middle. And when we are visualizing something, we tend to look up. Once you understand this, you can wipe a negative image out of your mind simply by moving your eyes up and down; this accesses multiple levels of thinking and essentially clears your head.

Eye see what you think

Source: “Reading Eye Movement in Communication” by Ron Kurtus; school-for-champions.com

Try keeping this ridiculous image of Flip in mind while you move your eyes up and down. Our bet is you can’t do it!

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The Delta Society is one of many organizations now devoted to using animals to provide therapeutic benefits to people. Their web site has dozens of references to research studies documenting such benefits. For example, animals pull our attention outward; this is especially useful when stress or worries cause us to focus inwardly. Animals also provide a non-threatening, emotionally safe relationship. They offer unqualified acceptance. Finally, for most people the touch of an animal is a safe and reassuring event. Besides, they just make us smile.

Reach out to an… animal

Learn more at deltasociety.org

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Arizona State University associate professor Kory Floyd studies the therapeutic benefits of expressing affection. “Being affectionate is good for you,” he reports. “Affection can be a simple, non-pharmaceutical, cheap way to reduce stress.” Floyd’s research reveals that thinking affectionate thoughts about another person is not sufficient to reduce your own stress levels. “It is conveying your feelings that produces” the positive result. So write someone you love an affectionate letter, tell them how you feel about them, or simply put your arm around them. Where you take it from there is none of our business.

Convey affection

Source: “The Effects of Affection” by Diane Boudreau; Arizona State University Research Publications - Winter 2006

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For their size, the muscles in your jaw are the strongest in your body. In most people, they tend to be far too tense. You can relax them by simply rubbing the side of your jaw with your fingers, and then opening your mouth as wide as possible. Alternate these two several times. Likewise, the muscles around your eye sockets and on either side of the bridge of your nose - you know the spot, people pinch it when they are tense - relax beautifully when you gently rub these spots.

Drop your jaw (and relax your eyes)

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Find a rubber ball or tennis ball; the rubber ball is generally softer, so be careful if you use a tennis ball. Stand with your back against a wall, with one foot forward and both knees bent. Place the ball between your back and the wall, and lean against the ball, firmly. Now move slowly side to side or up and down, so that the ball massages your back. Many people enjoy focusing on their upper back, shoulders, and the area around their spine… but far be it from us to exert peer pressure on you. If you find an area that feels especially tight, lean into the ball and hold it for 5-10 seconds. When you release the pressure, enjoy the feeling of relaxation in that area. At first, you may drop the ball. But with a little practice, you will get the hang of it. Just remember to move slowly and gently. Of course, if you have back problems of any sort, please skip this exercise.

Up against the wall

Source: Smith College Information Technology Services, Ergonomics Program

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Many people stretch because they want to exercise. So they rush through the stretch. But stretching is one of the most relaxing activities you can do, especially if you take your time. Set aside 25 minutes for stretching. This may seem like a lot, but it will give you the luxury to be patient with each stretch. Take the first ten minutes and do a cardio activity to warm up. When you stretch, remember to keep breathing. Only stretch to the point where you feel a slight tightness; never bounce or allow a stretch to hurt. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. Do every stretch at least twice; you will often see improvement the second time.

Just stretch

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Move. Take a long walk. Go for a swim. Ski all day. Hike up a mountain. Ride a bike. To enjoy significant benefits, do it for at least 30 minutes and go fast enough that both your heart and breathing rates increase noticeably. (As always – do not overdo it.) Be as mobile as you possibly can. In addition to the physical benefits of exercise, by changing the manner and speed with which you move through our physical world, you alter your perspective and literally change the way your brain is functioning. On an anecdotal basis, we notice that the most relaxed people we meet generally tend to be the most mobile ones, too. If you are feeling down, getting out and moving can often be the best strategy for shifting your system into a more positive state.

Be mobile

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From personal experience, we have always found juggling to be an excellent way to reduce stress and put a smile on our faces. But now a medical study in Japan has formally documented this effect. The study involved women with a broad range of anxiety disorders. Half of the women taught themselves to juggle with both hands, using beanbags. After six months, the group that juggled had significantly lower anxiety levels than the control group that did not juggle. From our perspective, juggling requires concentration and focus; it also causes your eyes to move in a pattern that tends to clear your mind of any pre-existing images. Both help you to relax.


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You are in a packed concert hall. 18,000 people are on their feet, swaying as one to the rhythm of one of the world’s greatest bands. The lights, the music, the energy of the crowd as it reacts to each new song and nuance… they all combine to create an utterly memorable and uplifting experience. It is pretty unlikely you are in the crowd thinking about submitting your taxes. If you are one of many people drawn to music, when possible give yourself up completely to it. Allow your body to move unconsciously to the music, even if you do it in the privacy of your shower.

Let the rhythm take “you” away

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When all else fails, try an utterly new experience. Go to fantasy baseball camp. Volunteer to build a house with Habitat for Humanity, especially if You have never before held a hammer. Take a “singing for tone-deaf people” class. If you are a senior citizen, volunteer at an elementary school; if you are young, volunteer at a home for the elderly. Whitewater raft. Learn to drive a tractor trailer. Take up knitting, taekwondo, or the ancient game of juego de pelota (but be careful, it can be extremely violent.) Each time you change your physical situation and your set of experiences, you alter your perspective. The result is a more interesting and satisfying life.

And now for something completely different

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Jim George and Bruce Kasanoff created this guide.

Jim is the author of Time to Make It STOP: The How of Now. It will help you relax just as fast as you can say “stop.”

You can find it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615690742

If you are near Los Angeles, Jim works one-on-one with clients to help them figure out and get what they really want. You can

schedule an appointment by calling (310) 306-2217.

Bruce writes on LinkedIn about career and getting what you want from life. You can find many of his free guides here:


While the entire contents are “copyright 2013 Jim George and Bruce Kasanoff,” you are welcome to share it with others.