HOW TO RELAX INTO PROBLEM SOLVING
By David Major
As we head towards summer our thoughts turn towards our annual holidays and we look forward with anticipation to taking a break from our hectic schedules and having the time to relax and put aside all our problems. Relaxation is something that we can practise at any time, not just when we are on holiday.
One of my clients is a retired gentleman who, apart from his hobby of being a private pilot, takes a great pride in his garden, especially the lawn which he describes as being ‘as near to perfection as I can make it’. After a few days away from home he was horrified to find a large dandelion growing in the centre of his beloved turf, along with significant scars and dents made by squirrels. I leave you to imagine his state of mind when he phoned me later that day. He was certainly not relaxed.
I had just thinking about booking a holiday so my mind was on aircraft. I led him gently through a simple relaxation technique based on the Top Ten Tips that follow, and then asked him to briefly feel again what he felt when he saw his lawn, to feel the emotions when he bent to inspect the damage in lurid close-up.
Then I asked him to visualise the same scene as it might be observed by a bird sitting high in one of his oak trees. Immediately his ‘problem’ diminished in intensity and size. Then I invited him to imagine that he was in his light aircraft, looking down on his home. He could not even see the offending weed and squirrel tracks. Finally I took him high in a holiday jet and he described how he could not even distinguish his garden from the thousands of others, let alone to see that it was better maintained.
As we ‘returned to earth’ from this little eyes-closed and relaxed visualisation, he had the problem in better perspective. All that he had to do was let his anger go and take positive action to repair the damage. I set him the goal of making the lawn even better than before, so that there would be no trace of the scar and to send me before and after photographs. This was a challenge that he accepted with enthusiasm.
The point of this story is that, in reality, nothing had changed, except his attitude and reaction to the problem. As a pilot he was already susceptible to the concept of ‘attitude correction’ and he could readily accept the old adage that ‘distance lends enchantment to the view’. The problem would, of course, remain until he took remedial action, but he would do so within a broader framework of understanding.
The next time you are faced with a problem of whatever magnitude, allow your concerns, worry or anger to subside. Relax into a calmer frame of mind. See its resolution as a challenge rather than a problem. Then, and this is an important step, distance yourself from the immediate situation [take a walk or drive, see a movie, grab a coffee at a pavement cafe ... whatever] to see the situation in wide angle context. Then, from a place of relaxed calm, take the necessary small actions that will lead towards the result that you desire.
Remind yourself that there has never yet been a problem that has not been resolved and that there is neither success nor failure from your actions – only results. If you are not happy with the results that you create, then change your actions.
Do not react, just act. We attract that which we focus on. Focus on problems and they will multiply. In a relaxed state, focus on results, solutions and outcomes and they will inspire you take the necessary actions.
TOP TEN TIPS FOR RELAXATION
So think that you are pretty good at relaxation? If your idea of it is to be a couch potato in front of your television, then have I got news for you! That isn’t relaxation, it is vegetation!
Use the following tips to ensure that your life remains green and growing instead of becoming ripe and rotten.
1. Whatever you do, in the same way, in the same place, at the same time for seven consecutive days will become a habit that is hard to break.
2. To create a relaxation habit, identify your time and place now*
3. Go to this place. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and become aware of your breathing
4. Consciously make your breathing slower and deeper for a count of five breaths but do not strain.
5. Thoughts will intrude, that is OK, just return to awareness of your breathing
6. Say inwardly and silently ‘I am now relaxing for ten minutes’ [trust me – and it - your subconscious will tell you when time is up]
7. When time is up, open your eyes and take another minute to return to your ‘real’ world
8. As soon as you can, visit a bookshop and look for books about meditation**
9. Write a list of the ten people, places, activities or events that create stress in your life
10. Ask yourself why they have this effect on you and how you could change your attitude to one of relaxed acceptance – write whatever comes to mind, no matter how far-fetched it may seem, then act upon the best option
* The ideal time is soon after awaking or just before going to bed. The ideal place is alone and free from distractions and reminders of work – no phones, television, radio, pets or doorbells.
** Meditation is an easily learned process. It does not require you to alter or embrace any religious beliefs and you do not have to pay anyone to teach you. At your book shop, leaf through a few titles on the subject and pick the one that appeals to you. Buy it, read it, learn and practise.
This article was posted by David Major