Relaxation is both an art and a science. The art of relaxation is like a craft that you hone over time, armed with the knowledge of how the mind and body work. Consciously relaxing is a key technique to managing stress and feeling empowered long-term, making it an important part of the healing or self-discovery journey.
There’s a little stumbling block, though: it seems that we humans are not very good at relaxing (of course there are exceptions!) and this is mostly to do with the fact that working days are getting longer. Many now work from home, or if not we often take work home and keep replying to emails in the evening and at weekends. Then we are glued to our phone screens to check our social media, or stay up late to catch up on “unmissable” TV series. We are also very good at worrying about the future or reminiscing about the past, all mental activities that create unnecessary stress, keep our minds busy and often keep us awake at night.
Sophrology – How To Relax Your Mind & Body
If you are looking for an effective way to create balance in your life without disrupting your daily routine, then you really can’t go wrong with Sophrology.
Sophrology is a unique blend of Eastern practices like Zen Buddhism and Yoga, and Western science such as psychology, neurology and phenomenology. It provides you with a toolkit for modern life that you can use whenever you feel stressed or too tired to tap into a sense of calm. Sophrology, also called dynamic relaxation, is the art of relaxation with intention and purpose, engaging both body and mind.
Talking about the dynamic element of Sophrology, one way to connect with mind and body is to walk in nature: it can be as little as a 10-minute walk at lunchtime in your local park if you don’t have much spare time. You can use some Sophrology exercises to start building a connection with your body and its inner wisdom, synchronising your breathing with your walking speed. Walking meditation is an ancient practice that still has many useful applications in today’s hectic pace of life. It allows us to have a sense of wonder for the environment around us: the trees, the flowers, the wildlife, and the ever-changing sky.
The Power of Breathing
Conscious breathing has many physical and mental benefits. Studies have confirmed that deep breathing can have a beneficial effect, notably in reducing blood pressure. Hypertension is related to many degenerative diseases so being able to normalise blood pressure may add years to your life.
Knowing how to breathe mindfully is one of the best techniques to relax your mind and body. Breathing exercises in Sophrology encourage deep conscious breaths using the tummy breath, where you allow your tummy to expand when you breathe in and deflate when you breathe out. It helps you take each breath slowly and mindfully, focusing on the inner workings of your body.
As we breathe mindfully and focus on how our body feels, we are able to tune into our specific intentions for the Sophrology practice, like clearing tensions or tuning into positive sensations in specific parts of the body. We use the breath to let go of tension in body and mind or couple the breath with a positive intention, for instance building a feeling of confidence, vitality and joy or simply inviting calm and relaxation into body and mind. It makes the breath a very dynamic tool to transform how we feel in our daily lives and help us focus on the positive.
When we think of relaxation, we assume it requires staying still and silent. However, gentle movement may also guide you into a state of relaxation. Most especially for those who struggle to stay still for a period of time or have difficulty slowing down their thoughts, Sophrology’s gentle arm, neck, and leg movements allow a more accessible way to settle into a relaxed state of mind and body.
You can learn some simple 10-min Sophrology exercises to help you de-stress and relax.
For simple yet effective breathing techniques, check out my book The Life-Changing Power of Sophrology and the BeSophro Relax, Reset, and Overcome Stress online course.