Friday July 6, 2012
Relaxing is hard to do
A DIFFERENT SPIN by JO JO STRUYS
IN THE second year of my Bachelor of Business degree at Curtin University in Western Australia, I started taking up additional units in psychology. I found psychology fascinating because it studies the human mind.
The more I delved into this complex topic, the more I felt we were only scraping the surface of truly understanding what we are really capable of. I found it intriguing learning about perception, emotion, cognition and human behaviour.
When I was 18, I attended my first guided relaxation class conducted by an Austrian psychologist who I fondly called “Mrs Ewen”. She was able to make me feel so mentally positive with just one, simple visualisation exercise.
I remember saying to her, “How did you do that? Wow! I feel so good about myself and I’m way more relaxed than when I walked in.”
She modestly said she didn’t actually do anything. She just pointed me in the right direction.
Mrs Ewen wisely remarked, “I only facilitated the guided exercise and asked the right questions. Your mind did all the work, you see, so everyone is capable of becoming calmer and more in control, if they chose it.”
Though I was merely listening to her soothing voice and following her very simple instructions over calming music being played in the background, it had a profound effect on me.
In fact, according to the American Society of Hypertension, relaxing music alone can already reduce one’s blood pressure and slow down your heart rate.
I can’t articulate in words what this simple guided exercise did for me but something shifted in my perception. Something really positive! When I walked through that door, I know I was not in a very good space.
I had a lot on my plate and I was coming out of an unpleasant break-up at the time. However, I don’t think I was aware of how heavy it was weighing on my mind.
That is the thing about emotional baggage. It is like toxins in your system that you need to flush out so that you can start a fresh, clean slate.
It is really tiring to be carrying negativity around because it’s such a draining energy. Positivity makes us feel light and energised. It recharges us and problems never look too big to solve when you’re in a positive space.
I was so inspired by my positive session, that by the time I turned 19, I asked friends on campus if they wanted to be my first guinea pigs in guided relaxation to help them de-stress.
Interestingly, I had several insomniacs come forward saying they would gladly co-operate if I could help them sleep.
When I first walked them through the guided relaxation, some of them were snoring mid-way through the exercise.
I encouraged them to do the exercise on their own every night because they were obviously capable of falling asleep but they said it was hard without the guided instruction so I agreed to come over now and then to help them memorise all the steps.
I never would have imagined that I was going to launch my very own Guided Relaxation CD so many years later!
I then started taking a course in Reiki healing and eventually became an accredited Reiki master.
I never did it for a living but I have been practising it for more than 14 years.
I helped out friends of friends and family members who had various ailments of all kinds from disrupted sleep to bad backs, athiritis, low self-esteem, you name it!
I also used to ride an Argentinian horse who had problems with her back foot so I would sit in the stables with her at night just giving her Reiki to accelerate the healing process.
I then started learning different kinds of breathing exercises from different disciplines.
I was once told by a Tai Chi master that doing just 15 minutes of a breathing exercise can be equivalent to two hours of sleep!
It is amazing how easily we can calm down if we simply made that conscious choice and the right music can really help you get into the mood.
Interestingly, hospitals round the world have started using music therapy to deal with anxiety, pain and distress in patients, especially for women about to deliver.
According to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, music has the potential to impact positively on families and their children.
This was why I wanted to put together a Guided Relaxation CD to help people de-stress and relax.
For those of you who could do with more inner strength and confidence, there is a track dedicated to becoming more mentally positive because it is full of empowering affirmations.
All you need is some quality “me-time” and a pair of headphones to really get into the zone.
> Jojo Struys is a TV host/health enthusiast who’s Guided Audio Relaxation CD called “Letting Go with Jojo Struys” is now available in Starbucks outlets nationwide. Jojo’s positive messages can also be heard daily on Lite FM. If you wanted to catch up with more of Jojo’s thoughts, you could find her @jojo_struys on Twitter or www.jojostruys.com