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There is a close relationship between physical bodily tension and the sensation of mental tension. When we are worried over something we feel tense in our body; relax our body very completely we soon begin to feel relaxed in our mind. It is a common experience among psychiatrists to find that the patient who is losing his mental tension as a result of psychotherapy is physically more relaxed to his body. A basic principle of the relaxing mend exercises is the use of physical relaxation as a key to menta relaxation. This takes place in two stages. First we must learn complete physical relaxation, and second we must learn how to use this physical relaxation to promote calm and ease of our mind. Our mind relaxes following the relaxation our body and this mental relaxation tends to persist after we have ceased to relax our body. As the process is
repeated the persistence of the mental relaxation becomes progressively greater and more prolonged until the stage is reached when it stays with us in all the tasks of our everyday living.
There is another fundamental factor. There are different kinds of relaxation. The kind of relaxation which leads us to calm and ease of mind is quite different from the relaxation which occurs when we lie down comfortably and doze off perhaps even going to sleep. The type of relaxation which we want is essentially mental relaxation. This is independent of physical comfort. In fact it is more difficult to attain real mental relaxation if we are physically too comfortable because we then achieve our feeling of relaxation through the physical comfort of our body and not by activity of our mind.
The type of relaxation which is most effective is different from the relaxation which leads to sleep. Of course, sleep itself is effective in relieving nervous tension. This is the first line of treatment which every doctor knows. He gives the nervous patient a sedative so as to ensure a good night’s rest. Sleep eases the tension; but it is not nearly as effective in doing so as the profound mental relaxation in which the mind is deeply calm and at ease, yet at the same time fully awake.
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