Introduction

This course comprises three lessons. You should allow a week's training between two lessons, so the course will take you three weeks. In the end you will know and be able to practice the basics of the Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) technique. I also provide some more hints as to how to integrate this technique into everyday life.
Lesson 1 is the complete method, lesson 2 handles the shortened routine for more experienced users and lesson 3 is de four minute compact routine.

You cannot learn this technique by reading this - you will have to practice! Which will take you about 20 minutes each day!

After practicing PMR for about six or eight weeks you will notice that you become more composed and recover from strains and stresses more quickly. Also this technique will make it easier for you to learn other relaxation techniques like Mantra Meditation or visualization techniques in case you ever should want to. I consider Mantra Meditation the most effective method, it is taught by Yoga teachers or some clinical psychologists (do not try to learn this technique by yourself).

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Lesson 1

The Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique was invented by Edmund Jacobson. The basic idea is to systematically train tensing and relaxing groups of muscles. During the first training sessions each group of muscles (forearm, upper arm and so on) is exercised separately. Later these exercises are combined so that at the end you should be able to relax the whole body at once.

Relaxation Program: complete form

This first lesson will take about one hour (your daily training and the following two lessons will take less than half this time). In this first session you learn to tense and relax muscle groups in a given order. First you simply go through the complete sequence. Next you actually do your first training.

Sit on a chair or on whatever you can sit upright with both feet flat on the ground. Now just do the following exercises in a quick order to learn the sequence and how to do it.

1. Right hand and forearm make a fist
release
2. Right upper arm bend the arm and "show off your muscles"
release
3. Left hand and forearm make a fist
release
4. Left upper arm bend the arm and tighten the muscles
release
5. Forehead raise your eyebrows
relax your face
6. Eyes and cheeks squeeze the eyes
relax
7. Mouth and jaw clench your teeth and pull the corners of the mouth back
relax
8. Shoulder and neck a little pre-training first: lock your hands behind the neck and push back the head against this resistance (the head does not alter its position) - got the idea? That's how this should feel: pull up your shoulders and press your head back against their resistance (horizontally - not like when you look up)
let your shoulders hang, relax
9. Chest and back breathe in deeply and hold your breath pressing the shoulders together at the back at the same time
let your shoulders hang, breathe normally
10. Belly tighten the abdominal muscles (or draw in the belly)
release
11. Right hand thigh shovel the right foot forward against resistance (while it keeps its position)
release
12. Right hand calf lift up the right heel (be careful not to cramp)
release
13. Right foot crook the toes
release
14. Left hand thigh shovel your left food forward
relax
15. Left hand calf lift up the left heel
release
16. Left foot crook the toes
okay: done

Repeat these exercises once in a quick succession so maybe you can do them by heart next.

Relaxation Program: first training

Got it? Here is a short checklist. Preferably you should do the exercises with eyes closed. But if you print out the checklist and lay it somewhere near you, you might glimpse at it from time to time.

Tighten each group of muscles and hold the tension for about 5 seconds, then relax for about 30 seconds. While focusing your inner perception on the muscles just exercised you will sense that the process of relaxation progresses a little after releasing the muscles. Let it happen that way and enjoy it. Repeat each exercise once.

At the end keep your eyes closed for a short while and enjoy the rest a little longer. Breathe in deeply and move your fingers and toes playfully. Breathe in deeply again and stretch yourself. Breathe in deeply and open your eyes. Do this at the end of each session. This breathing and stretching shall make sure that your circulation is reactivated. Usually you will feel quite refreshed afterwards.

Before you now actually start, close your eyes and enjoy the rest for a minute or so. Accept any perceptions or emerging thoughts but let them pass by like leaves floating on a creek. Do not ponder or brood, try not to start daydreaming. If some important idea comes up you can come back to it later, when your exercise is finished. Okay? Now start tensing and relaxing the muscle groups in the order you just have trained.

Relaxation Program: practice

Within the next week you should repeat this training at least three times. Then you proceed to lesson 2 which will teach you a shortened version of the PMR training.

© Material on this page provided by Bernd Harmsen 1996-1999.