The following is an excellent way of achieving some degree of control over muscle tone and/or circulation, and therefore over pain. Every day, ideally twice a day, for 10 minutes at a time, do the following:
- Lie on the floor or bed in a comfortable position, small cushion under the head, knees bent if that makes the back feel easier, eyes closed. Perform the anti-arousal breathing exercise for five cycles (one cycle equals an inhalation and an exhalation), then let breathing resume its normal rhythm.
- When you feel calm and still, focus attention on your right hand/arm and silently say to yourself: ‘My right arm (or hand) feels heavy.’ Try to sense the arm relaxed and heavy, its weight sinking into the surface it is resting on. Feel its weight. Over a period of about a minute repeat the affirmation as to its heaviness several times and try to stay focused on its weight and heaviness. You will almost certainly lose focus as your attention wanders from time to time. This is part of the training in the exercise – to stay focused – so do not feel angry; just go back to the arm and its heaviness. You may or may not be able to sense the heaviness – it does not matter too much at first. If you do, stay with it and enjoy the sense of release – of letting go – that comes with it.
- Next, focus on your left hand/arm and do exactly the same thing for about a minute.
- Move to the left leg and then the right leg, for about a minute each, with the same messages and focused attention.
- Go back to your right hand/arm and this time affirm a message which tells you that you sense a greater degree of warmth there: ‘My hand is feeling warm (or hot).’
- After a minute or so, go to the left hand/arm, the left leg and then finally the right leg, each time with the ‘warming’ message and focused attention. If warmth is sensed, stay with it for a while and feel it spread. Enjoy it.
- Finally, focus on your forehead and affirm that it feels cool and refreshed. Stay with this cool and calm thought for a minute before completing the exercise.
By repeating the whole exercise at least once a day (10–15 minutes) you will gradually find you can stay focused on each region and sensation. ‘Heaviness’ represents what you feel when muscles relax and ‘warmth’ is what you feel when your circulation to an area is increased, while ‘coolness’ is the opposite, a reduction in circulation for a short while – usually followed by an increase due to the overall relaxation of the muscles. Measurable changes occur in circulation and temperature in the regions being focused on during these training sessions and the benefits of this technique to people with Raynaud’s phenomenon and to anyone with pain problems is proved by years of research. Success requires persistence – daily use for at least 6 weeks – before benefits are noticed, notably a sense of relaxation and better sleep.
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