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The Flow of Serenity in Our Being & Becoming

Disclaimer: This exercise is a mindfulness practice, including components or techniques associated with grounding, breath, body scan, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery. Please be informed that if you have an underlying health condition (i.e., asthma, or physical injury) that may be impaired by practicing this exercise, please consult with a physician for authorization prior to participating in this exercise.

Mindfulness is an intentional, focused, and experiential practice. It involves nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance of our emerging thoughts, feelings, and somatic experiences in real-time, as is, in the present moment. Mindfulness may serve to heighten our awareness of our inner truths in our being and becoming in the present moment, suspending our preoccupation with the past and/or the future. Mindfulness may serve to support our physical and mental health.

It may reduce stress and anxiety, induce relaxation, and enhance our sleep quality, energy, motivation, attention/concentration, memory and our emotional regulation. Mindfulness may be a peaceful and revitalizing activity to engage in at the start or end of our day, or even both for that matter.

By designating a relatively brief time in our day to engage in mindfulness, we commit and permit ourselves to slow down from the business and distraction of our daily existence and to experience self-connection and a sense of centeredness.

This particular mindfulness exercise incorporates a combination of activities:

1) The 4-7-8 breathing technique, a form of pranayama, is a practice of breath regulation to influence relaxation. It involves taking slow deep breaths through the nose (for a count of 4 seconds) - influencing the rise in the abdomen - holding breath for 7 seconds and exhaling through the mouth (for 8 seconds) - influencing the fall of the abdomen.

2) Body scan. This involves systematically scanning for sensations experienced in numerous parts or muscle groups in our body.

3) Progressive muscle relaxation. This involves systematically tensing and releasing/relaxing different muscle groups in our body, one muscle group at a time, to release stress/tension and induce relaxation.

4) Guided imagery. This involves creating a relaxing mental image in our mind.

5) Grounding. This involves noting multiple sensory experiences, one at a time, such as auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), tactile (touch), olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste) experiences.

Preparation for this activity:

1) Wear loose and/or comfortable clothing.

2) Use a particular space in your home that may offer a sense of safety, comfort, and aloneness/privacy as well as a non-distracting rich sensory environment - i.e., whereby you may be exposed to sounds (i.e., indoor or outdoor calming sounds), sights (i.e., plants, relaxing items), diverse tangible items, relaxing scents (i.e., frankincense, lavender) and tastes (i.e., savory, sweet, sour).

3) Consider and choose a color that you experience as soothing and healing (i.e., blue, green, purple) and a color that you perceive as representing stress (i.e., red, grey).

Scents and colors influence us psychologically, emotionally, and physically, and, as such, choose a scent that influences calm for you, select a color that influences calm for you, and pick a color that you associate with stress, as these will be used in the guided imagery component.

1. Lie down on a comfortable surface (i.e., on a mat on the ground, a bed/mattress) or sit with your back straight yet relaxed in a comfortable chair, either way with arms relaxed on your sides and palms resting beside you or on your lap (if choosing sitting position) and facing upward and feet on the ground (if choosing sitting position). You may choose to close your eyes or to keep them open.

2. Become aware of the contact of your body with the item - flat surface, chair - progressively surrendering the weight of your body to be supported by the flat surface or chair.

3. Notice sensory experiences - what you see (if eyes open), hear, smell, touch (body contact) - one sensory focus at a time - and eventually shift attention or awareness from external experiencing to here and now internal experiencing, your breathing, allowing sensory experiences to fade in the background.

4. Breathing: Focusing on your breath, inhale breath deeply (count of 4), feeling the sensation of the air entering your nose and descending and filling your lungs/abdomen making your abdomen rise/expand, hold your breath for 7 seconds (noting the inner experience), and exhale breath (count of 8 seconds), noting the sensation of the air leaving your lungs/abdomen (and abdomen contracting) and mouth. Practice 4 cycles. If thoughts enter your mind and/or feelings arise, simply note/observe them, accept them without judgment, and, without attaching to them, gently free them, bringing your focus back to your breath.

5. Body Scan & Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Breathe naturally and comfortably, slowly bringing awareness to your body. Starting from your forehead/brow area and muscle group and ending with the muscles in the soles of your feet 1) simply note any sensation - i.e., neutrality, tingling, tightness, pressure, temperature - that you may have in the particular targeted area/muscle group (i.e., forehead/brows), inhale, hold breath and tense the target muscle group (5 seconds) and note the tension and then release the tension in the muscle group with exhale (and note the release) before systematically proceeding to the next muscle group (i.e., eyes). Target muscle groups may include the following: Forehead/brows (raise brows to tense), eyes (squint eyes to tense), cheeks (smile wide to tense), nose (twitch to tense), mouth (tense lips to tense), neck (stretch by gently turning head to the right, left, backward, forward), back (squeeze shoulder blades), shoulders (lifting shoulders up to tense), arms (squeeze fists), hands (stretch and clench to tense), fingers (place hands together and gently press fingers together), abdomen (contracting to tense), buttocks (squeeze buttocks), thighs (squeeze thighs together to tense), calves (point or flex your feet), ankles (up and down to tense), toes (curing toes to tense), and sole of your feet (tense toes upward to tense).

6. Shift attention back to 4-7-8 breathing for 4 cycles.

7. Visualization: Now the mind is relaxed, awakened, and receptive to the imagination. Imagine yourself safe, comfortable, and peaceful, sitting or lying down in a comfortable spot amidst the surrounding serenity of a captivating forest. Its openings surrender to the forest’s mesmerizing, spirited ambiance and the vast infinite sky above. You are encircled by the soothing and restorative energy of beautiful, vibrant evergreen trees, and the tranquil sound of calm water gently drifting away from a waterfall lake nearby. Breathing in fresh air and the fragrance of pine and of brilliant wildflowers. Listening to the sound of rustling leaves as touched by the warm breeze and the sound of occasional bird calling. While sitting or lying down, you feel your body’s contact and firm anchored connection with the dry and warm earth. Above you, high in the sky, so high that you cannot see its source, you see a pure, vibrant (color of your choosing) energy, glowing and radiating its restorative/curative properties downward, like gentle rain. Concentrate on the most intense part of the glow of energy, slowly imagining alignment with this vibrant energy, and visualizing it slowly descending downward. Consider accepting and surrendering to its transformative healing properties to rest your body, quiet the mind, and soothe your mind-body-spirit. If permitting to its source, sense it softly radiating through the crown of your head and progressively evaluate how this feels - i.e., considering the representation of that feeling, be it visual (glow), kinesthetic, tactile (heat) - as it slowly and progressively branches out, disseminating soothing, revitalizing and healing energy systematically to each part of your body (from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet). As you imagine/view this healing energy - with concentrated attention - slowly, systematically and thoroughly flowing through each and every part of your body, imagine it disintegrating and absorbing any lingering remnants or blocks along the way associated with stress, tension and/or unresolved energy balances (i.e., perhaps from inner psychological and/or emotional unrest). (You may include your selected color for stress for the stress, tension and unresolved energy balances you view in your body.) Focus attention, deep concentration on the areas of viewed blocking - one area at a time - and imagine the healing energy in that area saturating, disintegrating and absorbing the block and flowing through it. Upon reaching the soles of your feet, imagine this energy leaving from the soles of your feet and entering and grounding into the ground to be neutralized. Imagine the gradual sensation of release, cleansing and restoration of mind-body-spirit balance and harmony and firm self-connection with all aspects of your being.

8. While keeping your eyes closed, start to slowly shift attention from the visualization to nurturing breath, deeply feeling the sensation of breath naturally flowing in, the sensation of other non-permanence physical sensations in your body, and the sensation as you exhale. Slowly, begin to note the contact of your body to the surface or chair, the scents you may be able to smell, the sounds you may be able to hear, and, as you slowly open your eyes, look around the room to notice what you see. Take in a deep breath and exhale fully – feeling free to make noise on the exhaling. If you have a delicious snack close at hand, take a bite and slowly savor the flavor of each mouthful! You may choose to reflect on the possible influence of this practice on the various spheres (i.e., personal, and social) of your functioning for the remainder of your day!

As well, you may choose to reflect by journaling these experiences daily for a week, and note any influence from daily practice!

Step by step directions for Breathing, Body Scan and Progressive Muscle Relaxation among others may be found in the following book: Davis, M., Eshelman, E. R. & McKay M. (2019). The relaxation & stress reduction workbook (7th ed.). Oakland: CA. New Harbinger Publications, Inc..

Revekka Kakoullis M.Sc., Registered Psychologist Resilience Awakening, Revekka Kakoullis E-Mail: Website:


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