This exercise will occupy your mind so that, as stress hormones caused by disturbing thoughts are being burned off, they are not replaced, after which you will again be able to focus your thoughts on something more useful or pleasurable. Be vigilant – as soon as you notice bad thoughts immediately use this exercise!
Ensuring you are safe to do so, sit comfortably - maybe you are waiting in Departures for that flight, or waiting for your turn to be interviewed?. Focus on some object in front of you.
Say to yourself “I see” and then name something in your peripheral vision. Then say “I see” and name something else in your peripheral vision. Continue until you have made five statements. For example: “I see the table, I see the lamp on the table, I see the lamp shade, I see a photo under the lamp, I see a book next to the photo”.
Maintaining the same visual focus, say the words “I hear” and name something you hear. Then say “I hear” and name something else you hear. Continue until you have made five statements.
Maintaining focus, say the words “I feel” and name something you are touching or sensing physically. Then say “I feel” and name something else you are feeling. Continue until you have made five statements. Note that the focus is on external objects in physical contact, not internal feelings. For example: “I feel the chair beneath me”, “I feel a draught of cold air on my face”.
That completes one cycle. It takes deep concentration, which is the object of the exercise. As you concentrate on non-threatening things, the “fight or flight” hormones that were in your body when you started the exercise get burned off. As they get used up, you get more relaxed.
On the next cycle, to keep the concentration intense, we make one change: instead of doing five statements again, do four statements. Then, in the next cycle, do three statements. Then, in the next cycle, do two statements. Then, in the next cycle, do one statement. Then, in the next cycle, we go back to five, etc.
Remember the same order: seeing, hearing, feeling and keep track of the order and the count. When you lose count or can’t remember what comes next it means you are getting relaxed. If you are relaxed as you want to be then stop; if you want to be even more relaxed, start the cycles again.
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