Monday, November 5, 2007

Music for the Heart: Instructions for self-guided relaxation

I have developed a program that I call, Music for the Heart. This program is centered around helping people who have had heart trouble or other cardiac related problems. The participants learn to use music as one of the tools to change their lifestyle in order to avoid future medical problems.

There is much new research about the role of mood and stress as it relates to recurrent heart attacks. Music is one tool that may help heart patients to manage stress and elevate their mood. I use a very simple set of instructions that I send home with clients after practicing relaxation techniques. There are many ways to use music to facilitate relaxation and this is just one example:

1. Find a place free of distraction from family, phones, etc.

2. Lie in bed or sit in a comfortable chair

3. Dim the lights and turn off the television

4. Turn on your preferred, soothing music

As you lie or sit quietly, begin to focus on your breathing. Naturally, your breath will slow down as you begin to focus on your exhales. As your breath slows down, let the weight of your body sink into the chair or bed. As you begin to feel more relaxed, imagine that you are riding down an escalator. At the bottom of the escalator is one of your favorite places in nature.

Imagine that you are walking around in this favorite place and notice all of the colors, sounds, and smells of your surroundings. Enjoy this place and the feelings of relaxation it brings you. You are moving freely and breathing easy in this place. Continue to relax and enjoy the music for a time. It is okay if you fall asleep. In fact, you may use this technique to help you fall asleep. When you are ready to return from this imagined place, slowly move your fingers and toes and return to an upright position.

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