I came across this awesome relaxation technique from the University of Chicago’s counseling services (of all places).
That’s it. There’s no further instruction or dissecting of this technique. I found similar descriptions online, but nothing about how this is supposed to affect the mind or help you.
Close your eyes. Touch your thumb to your index finger. As you do so, go back in time when your body felt healthy fatigue, when you had just engaged in an exhilarating physical activity. You might imagine that you had just played tennis, jogged, etc.
Touch your thumb to your middle finger. As you do so, go back to a time when you had a loving experience. It may be sexual, it may be a warm embrace, or an intimate conversation.
Touch your thumb to your ring finger. As you do so, go back to the nicest compliment you have ever received. Try to really accept it now. By accepting it, you are showing your high regard for the person who said it. You are really paying him or her a compliment.
Touch your thumb to your little finger. As you do so, go back to the most beautiful place you have ever been. Dwell there for a while.
So I’ll add my two cents:
This is a great technique, and I love it. I’ll tell you why. As I’ve talked about before, visualizations are extremely powerful. They can help rewire the neural activity in the brain. They can reinforce, destroy, replace, or contradict the theories and beliefs we hold about the world around us.
In addition to that, many of these activities, if not all in some way, help build self-confidence and self-love. It’s extremely powerful to learn to love yourself and be confident in who you are and what you’ve done. If I’m feeling jealous or hateful toward someone who is otherwise not a giant douche, I point to my own inadequacies and lack of self-love that needs to be repaired.
Recalling these feelings helps you remember the good that has happened. You use the tangible evidence of a past experience to strengthen your understanding of your present world, and more specifically, yourself!
Since we are such visual creatures, activating the memories in your head helps you “see” yourself as successful or beautiful or loved or happy. The link between memories and state of mind is powerful. Use it to your advantage!
And just like any muscle, the brain needs this regular exercise to get in better mental shape.** So let’s get to it! I need all the heavy lifting I can get. Provided there’s plenty of water breaks.
**I’d like to point out I am not advocating visualizations or any type of mental activity like this to replace medication or therapy. Visualizations and other resources like this are helpful tools, but I am in no way trying to say that they will magically cure your depression, bipolar, or other chemical imbalance. It is a really awesome tool, but you still need all the other help you can get! I can, too.