Guided relaxations & the subconscious mind
If you are like most of us, there are things about yourself, about your life that you would like to change. Maybe it is a bad habit that you have or a health issue that can not seem to be resolved. Maybe you are having trouble sleeping or are plagued with overwhelming emotions popping up out of nowhere. Or maybe you have trouble relaxing, are stressed all the time, and feel out of control of yourself.
Sometimes life can feel really overwhelming. There is not an instruction manual after all. It can feel like things are happening to us or around us, like we do not get a say in the way we live our life from the way we feel or think, to how our body responds. That someone else is pulling the strings when it comes to even the most basic of our bodies systems.
It is true that there is someone in control, and that someone can be us. Our subconscious controls so much of how we think and feel, and what we believe. This is all programmed into our subconscious similar to how we program a computer and tell it how to behave. The programming to our subconscious happens throughout our life from the time we are born.
The subconscious mind records all the information that our senses take in and can absorb vast amounts of data at a time, things that your conscious mind has to filter out or may not even take notice of. Think about how much information that really is! Tens of thousands of bits of information every moment, and it is categorizing and interpreting all this data all the time. The subconscious mind processes very quickly, trying to glean whatever conclusions and lessons it can off of the information so it sometimes makes broad generalizations based on one or two experiences. These generalizations sometimes turn into rules about how you are going to think or operate especially if it has to do with keeping you safe and protected.
This part of your mind does not really think in words, it uses pictures and images as well as feelings. The subconscious mind is also very literal and does not understand negatives. So when you are trying to change a bad habit and keep telling yourself, “don’t do that, don’t do that”, your subconscious just hears, “do that, do that”. Words are also not the best way to communicate with the subconscious pictures, images, and stories are much better. It also needs clear instructions especially when a change is being made to the way it operates.
Once you understand how the subconscious mind works and the important role it is playing in your life, you can take control, giving it the commands in the way it understands to work together in creating the life that you want to live. Just like with a computer it will keep running on the default setting, with whatever programs it has received until you go in and make specific changes using the language that it understands.
So, at this point, you are probably asking what is the language that it understands? There are many different ways to communicate with the subconscious mind. Remember that it likes images, pictures, stories, metaphors, and feelings. Tuning into your emotions is one way to receive information from your subconscious as is automatic writing, and interpreting your dreams. Ways to communicate back to the subconscious are meditating, going into trance, mind mapping, vision boards, and guided relaxation.
Guided relaxation is called many different things by different people. You may hear it called guided imagery, guided meditation, guided relaxation, and possibly other names as well. All these names are correct in that they are trying to describe what exactly guided relaxation is. It is a way of helping you to reach a relaxed and focused state of mind and, in this state, access the subconscious. It helps to relax the body and relax the mind, to slow both down, and let them rest without falling asleep or, sometimes, to help you fall asleep.
The goal of relaxation and focus are achieved by using imagery, metaphor, controlled breathing, and bringing in the five senses. A mental experience is created using the imagination and also guiding body processes that are often automatic such as breathing and muscle tension in order to help bring the body and mind into a different state.
Guided relaxation has an untold number of benefits physically, emotionally, and mentally because in this state we can work directly with the subconscious mind to make changes on a deep level. Using this technique can help make changes to the physical body by helping with sleep, heart rate, blood pressure, and pain. It can help you to fall asleep, stay asleep, or to sleep more deeply. This method has many emotional benefits as well by reducing immediate and overall stress levels, reducing the intensity of negative emotions, and helping you to manage and process emotions in new ways. The mental benefits include slowing down thoughts, creating new thoughts and beliefs, building confidence and self-esteem, and setting new goals for yourself.
Guided relaxation is helping you to access the subconscious mind directly and change the settings to your mind-body system. The brain does not actually know the difference between what we create with our imaginations, living out in our mind, and what we live in our external world. The stories and images that you imagine while you are led through guided relaxation and communicating directly with your subconscious mind to reprogram old default settings, and set a new course for your life. So, when we create a soothing peaceful scene in our mind our body and brain will respond accordingly. Just think about how when you remember a fun time in your life or a fond memory you feel wonderful all over again. This is the same concept.
When we are in an altered, more relaxed state of mind we make changes more rapidly and intensely. Without the distraction of the external world, we can give direct suggestions to the body and mind to relax and develop relaxation cues. We all have the power to control our mind, body, and our experience in the world. We can harness the power of our minds to effect change in our bodies. Even 10 minutes of conscious rest can reduce pain, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, lower glucose levels, and raise immunity.
With guided relaxation, we are giving new instructions to our subconscious mind on how we want it to maintain and direct our body going forward. These instructions are then carried out by the subconscious without our conscious direction. We give the instruction and suggestions and then we go on with our day-to-day lives, trusting the subconscious to carry out our instructions in the background just as it has done our whole lives. The difference is that now it is operating with a new set of instructions that we have chosen based on what we want for our life right now. Sounds great, right?
There are several different ways to bring guided relaxation into your life. There are practitioners: counselors, therapists, hypnotherapists, and others that you can visit in person. This is a good option if you want a personal experience with scripts picked or written specifically for you. There are also a lot of apps and practitioners online that have guided relaxations for purchase or even for free! Apps like Calm, Insight Timer, Headspace, YouTube, and many more or finding a practitioner that you like that has a website or YouTube channel. Guided relaxations that you pay for whether online or in-person are probably going to feel more personal and may be more specific for the changes or goals that you would like to reach.
If you are interested in giving guided relaxation a try, listen to the Body Awareness relaxation I have available on my website for free. If you like it, there are other recordings that I have available for purchase!