HELP FOR STRESS DISORDERS

By Eleanor Eggers, Ph.D., LP, BCB, (Senior Fellow)

Lesson 2   


You can move on to Lesson 2 whenever you notice a relaxation response of any kind in your dominant arm.  It may take a week or two or more for this to happen.  A relaxation response would be a feeling of heaviness, lightness, warmth, softness, tingling, or numbness.


It does not matter whether you experience any of these or not. You can be sure that your body is responding with relaxation in some way even though you do not perceive it.  You may feel a relaxation response in another part of your body, particularly the other arm or one or both of your legs.  This would indicate the beginning of “generalization” of the heaviness formula.  This would also mean that you are making progress.  In any case, after two weeks of diligent practice, it is okay to move on to Lesson 2.  A sensation of heaviness may occur at some later time, even after you experience the sensation of warmth.


Physiological changes actually do take place in your arms and legs when you relax deeply.  As the muscles relax, they become heavier; and, as the peripheral blood vessels dilate as the result of relaxation, they hold more blood, causing an increase in temperature and a sensation of warmth.  You may perceive warmth before you perceive heaviness.


Please begin by reviewing the information given under “Basic Information” and in Lesson 1.  


To simplify the instructions, instead of saying “right (left)” to refer to your dominant arm, I will say “right”.  You can interpret “right” as meaning your dominant arm and “left” as meaning your non-dominant arm.  I will also use this same terminology in referring to your legs.


We begin to use the background formulas in this lesson.  You may use the ones which are given, or you may use similar statements of your own choosing.  Also, you may use the ones as given, or you may use portions of them.  You may want to use only one word, such as “calm”, “peace”, or “quiet”.  In addition, you may insert them any place which feels right to you.


Lie down on your bed or recliner chair and focus your attention in a very passive way on your dominant arm.           


Say to yourself (think) once:

  • My right arm is heavy.   
  • I am completely calm.         


Switch your focus of attention to your other arm and say to yourself three times:                 

  • My left arm is heavy.           


Switch your focus of attention to both arms at the same time      and say to yourself three times:                   

  • Both arms are heavy.           


Switch your focus of attention to your right leg and say to yourself three times:                   

  • My right leg is heavy.           


Switch your focus of attention to your left leg and say to yourself three times:                   

  • My left leg is heavy.             


Switch your focus of attention to both legs at the same time and say to yourself three times:                   

  • Both legs are heavy.           


Switch your focus of attention to your arms and legs and say to yourself three times:                     

  • My arms and legs are heavy.


Do this exercise three times, canceling after the first and second times, as you did in Lesson 1.  Do not spend more than one minute saying the formulas each time. 


After the third time, you can stop saying the formulas and just enjoy staying in this state of deep relaxation for the remainder of the twenty minutes.  Follow the directions given in Lesson 1 on how to maintain a completely passive state.              


At the end of the twenty minutes, be sure to cancel by making two fists, bending and tensing your arms, taking a deep breath, and then opening your eyes.