Exercises for Inner Strength, Marilyn F. Clark
1. Find a comfortable and quiet place where you will be undisturbed for 15 minutes.
2. Sit or lie down. Make yourself comfortable by taking off your glasses, shoes, loosening your belt, putting on a warm sweater...
3. Review the steps you are about to take to help your mind focus.
4. Take some deep breaths (2 or 3). With each breath, feel the air move in and out of your body. Imagine you can follow it -- moving in and out of your body. Now let your breath return to its natural rhythm. Take a survey of your body now. Start at your head and notice how your head feels. If you become aware of tension, give the tension permission to let go. Now move your focus to your neck and shoulders. Gradually let your focus go to each part of your body. Note any tension and then let the tension go.
You may find that sometimes the tension moves easily away; other times it doesn't. Don't work at making the tension go. Simply practice and note the differences.
5. Now turn your focus from your body to your imagination. Let a scene come to your mind. You may want to decide ahead of time what scene you wish to create. This is your time, your exercise so you have permission to create something just for yourself. Here are some ideas:
- your favorite room or place in nature
- an attic treasure chest
- a gift to yourself from yourself, your inner child, your best friend, a loving relative
- a sacred place where you feel God's presence
As you let the scene come into your mind, awaken each one of your senses to the scene so that it becomes more vibrant and real. Once you have established the scene in your mind, let it unfold for you. Let yourself be involved with it. You need not judge what's going on. If you don't like how you feel, then you can choose to stop the experience or to change it.
6. As the image begins to develop, you may want to add music to your experience. Music can help the imagery flow if it matches well with you and with what you need. You may need to spend some listening time to find music that will help you with this exercise. Here are some suggestions:
- Bach: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring; Sheep May Safely Graze
- Vaughan Williams: Variation on the theme of Greensleeves; Lark Ascending; Oboe Concerto
- Holst: Planets Suite -- Venus and Neptune
- Elgar: Enigma Variations #8 and 9
- Rampal and Laskine: Japanese Flute Melodies
- Deuter: Land of Enchantment
- Lynch: Sky of Mind
- Nakai: Sundance Season
- Kelly: Seapeace
Popular music and music with understandable lyrics may already have images attached to them.
7. You may wish to go directly from the relaxation exercise to the music listening. There are many ways to use music, just as there are many ways to use images. When you listen to music, notice how it effects you and notice what you like to listen to when. Music can
- help you relax / and can make you tense
- can touch your emotions -- happy, sad, joyful, grieving
- can make you feel scattered / and make you feel whole.
8. In taking on this exercise program, be patient with yourself. It takes awhile to learn how to concentrate on an internal process. It takes awhile to see results.
9. These exercises take some effort. It's subtle, but it's effort. It will pay off for you if you choose to believe in it.
10. Look for opportunities to practice and to use these exercises. It will take discipline and self-awareness. And it's fun, too.