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Sport Psych

Martial Arts


Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions

The Secret of Happiness: Let It Find You (But Make the Effort)

Promoting Healthy Behavior Change

10 Common Errors in CBT

Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

What to Do When Your Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Marriage

Rejection Sensitivity, Irrational Jealousy and Impact on Relationships

When You Have Been Betrayed

Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

For Women Only: How to Have the Relationship of Your Dreams

What to Do When Your Partner's Jealousy Threatens to Destroy Your Relationship

Making Attributions for a Healthier Attitude

Happiness is An Attitude

Conflict in the Workplace

Motivation: Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Guide to How to Set Achieveable Goals

Excellence vs. Perfection

Depression is Not Sadness

Feedback, Self-Efficacy and the Development of Motor skills

The Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

Performance Enhancement in the Martial Arts: A Review

Catastrophe? Or Inconvenience?


Panic Assistance

Motivational Audios

Mindfulness Training

Rational Thinking

Relaxation for Children

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

Loving Kindness Meditation

Self-Esteem Exercise

Meadow Relaxation

Rainy Autumn Morning

Energizing Audios

Quick Stress Relief

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Choosing Happiness

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles

Kindle Books by Dr. Monica Frank

The Mindful Attitude: Understanding Mindfulness and the Steps to Developing Emotional Tolerance

Crazy-makers and Mean People: Handling Passive-Aggressive People

Stop Panic and Anxiety: 50 Tools

The Cognitive Diary Method to Changing Your Life

Happy Habits: 50 Suggestions


20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem

7 Rules and 8 Methods for Responding to Passive-aggressive People

5 Common Microaggressions Against Those With Mental Illness

What to Expect from Mindfulness-based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (MCBT) When You Have Depression and Anxiety

Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Lack Compassion? It Depends Upon the Therapist

When Needs Come Into Conflict

What to Do When Anger Hurts Those You Love

A Brief Primer On the Biology of Stress and How CBT Can Help

50 Tools for Panic and Anxiety

Coping With Change: Psychological Flexibility

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ending a Bad Relationship

I'm Depressed. I'm Overwhelmed. Where Do I Start?

Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Co-Dependency: An Issue of Control

The Pillars of the Self-Concept: Self-Esteem and Self-Efficacy


Hot Springs Relaxation

5 Methods to Managing Anger

Panic Assistance While Driving

Autogenic Relaxation Training

Rainbow Sandbox Mindfulness

Mindfulness Training

Riding a Horse Across the Plains

Cityscape Mindfulness

Change Yourself--Don't Wait for the World to Change

The Great Desert Mindfulness

Tropical Garden Mindfulness

Thinking Your Way to a Healthy Weight

Lies You Were Told

Probability and OCD

Choosing Happiness

Magic Bubbles for Children

Lotus Flower Relaxation

Cloud Castles for Children

Hot Air Balloon Motivation

Day of Fishing Mindfulness

Audio Version of Article: Struggling to Forgive: An Inability to Grieve

Audio Version of Article: Crazy-Makers: Passive-Aggressive People

Audio Version of Article: Why Are People Mean? Don't Take It Personally!

Audio Version of Article: Happiness Is An Attitude

All Audio Articles


by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.
Tap to Listen to Article
"When you are in a state of mindfulness you are actually more aware and able to engage in tasks..."
How Do I Do Deep Meditative Relaxation?

There are numerous methods that can help individuals achieve the same outcome. Below are several common methods and ways that you can begin your practice.

1) Deep Relaxation. The best way learn deep relaxation is to listen to a recorded exercise. You may download two different free exercises from this site to begin your practice. The exercises are about 20-25 minutes long and all you need to do is find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and follow the instructions. When you are first learning deep relaxation, a common error is to try too hard to relax which leads to increased tension rather than relaxation. So, don't try torelax but just listen to the exercise. Don't worry if your mind wanders—just allow yourself to refocus on the exercise.

Over time, the more you practice the relaxation, the better you will be able to experience the deep relaxation. If you should find yourself becoming bored with the same exercise, you can vary the imagery by just allowing yourself to create your own imagery. For instance, if you download from this site, the imagery describes seeing two doors at the bottom of the staircase and you walk through one door and find yourself in a meadow in one exercise or in a mountain cabin in the other exercise. Many people ask me what's behind the second door. The answer is that I don't know because the second door is there if you want to go through it and create your own pleasant scene.

2) Mindfulness Practice. The best way to describe mindfulness is when the brain is focused on the immediate experience rather than on distracting thoughts that are either irrelevant such as “What am I cooking for dinner tonight?” or may be future-oriented worries such as “What if I blow it in the presentation tomorrow?” or past-oriented critiques such as “That was stupid. Why did I say that?” In fact, mindfulness takes us away from these types of demands or criticisms. The present-oriented focus tends to be more attractive to the brain even if the present moment isn't particularly pleasant. Therefore, as we practice mindfulness the brain will choose to be in the state of mindfulness more frequently.

For example, if I'm running late in the morning I can try to speed up my morning routine and focus on demanding thoughts “I'm late! I've got to hurry!.” However, I've found that this approach not only doesn't seem to make me any faster, but it stresses me and is likely to slow me down because the lack of focus causes me to misplace things or drop things and I end up spinning in circles. However, a mindful approach is to acknowledge the demanding thoughts without getting caught up in them. Instead, I can tell myself “Just focus on what you're doing. Don't worry about the time.” As a result, I'm less stressed and probably got ready as quickly as I was able.

Most of us experience the state of mindfulness naturally at times. For instance, if you've ever watched a beautiful sunset for 10-15 minutes and noticed the changing colors and felt connected to the world around you without distracting thoughts, you were probably in a mindful state. Or, for some people, they may find themselves being very focused or mindful when engaged in certain types of work or activities. In fact, in sports, when they describe being in “the zone” they are referring to a mindful state in which the athlete is focused only on the activity itself and responds automatically.

So if we can experience this state naturally, why is it important to cultivate mindfulness through practice. The first reason is that many people do not experience enough mindfulness in their day to make a difference. The second reason is that for those who do experience plenty of mindfulness, the mindfulness may be contained in such a way that it's not useful to them throughout the day. What I mean is someone who may be mindful while fishing but as soon as they are away from the lake, they become agitated and irritable with others because they don't take the mindfulness state with them.

Therefore, the practice of mindfulness allows us to experience mindfulness throughout our daily routine and can be especially important during tasks that we may dislike. For instance, I've never liked doing dishes and would usually be thinking about how much I hated doing dishes and being rushed so I could get away from them which made the experience more unpleasant. One day I found myself spontaneously in a mindful state while doing dishes. I was focused on the act of wiping the dishes, feeling the water run over my hands, and the movement of my muscles has I lifted each plate. At the end I thought “Wow, that was really pleasant.” This was before I had ever learned about mindfulness as a practice, but I discovered that my mental state had more impact upon my experience than the actual task that I needed to do.

A simple method I like to use to help people get started with mindfulness practice is to tell yourself “For the next couple of minutes I'm going to focus on being mindful.” The nice thing about this exercise is that you can do it anytime, anywhere so the common excuse of “I don't have time to relax” isn't applicable. When you are in a state of mindfulness you are actually more aware and able to engage in tasks so you can do this while driving, while having a conversation, while waiting in line, while working, or anything else you do in the course of your day. All you do is take a couple of minutes and focus completely on your immediate experience, what you see, hear, taste, smell, or feel.

The reason I tell people to start with a couple minutes is because the practice of mindfulness can be quite difficult at first. Within 5-10 seconds of starting the exercise you are likely to be distracted by your usual future-oriented demands/ worries or your past-oriented critiques. That's okay. In fact, that's even desired because it gives you the opportunity to practice the second (and I think, the most important) part of mindfulness which is learning how to acknowledge your thoughts but refocus on your immediate experience. It's sort of saying to yourself although you don't have to actually use words, “That's okay, but right now I'm focusing on this.” Initially, you may have to do that many times during a two minute practice. That's okay and normal. Try not to get frustrated because frustration interferes with mindfulness since you are now thinking of you frustration rather than the object of your focus. Instead, very gently refocus your mind.

Although you only do this for a couple of minutes at a time, I encourage people to practice the technique many times throughout the day. The more you practice, the more your brain will become receptive and accustomed to mindfulness and you will notice your brain returning to a mindful state on its own. Therefore, the idea is not about achieving mindfulness, but just practicing it and then letting your brain do the rest on its own.

3) Qi Gong. I have found that many people do well with a more active form of relaxation. The ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi assists people in achieving a deep state of relaxation through movement combined with breathing and focus. However, it takes many years for people to become sufficiently skilled at Tai Chi to begin to obtain benefits. Therefore, I encourage beginners to practice Qi Gong (many different spellings: Qi Chong, Qigong, Chi Kung) which is using simple Tai Chi movements to enter a state of deep relaxation. You may watch examples of these movements and then practice each day or you may follow along with the instructions for a deep meditative Qi Gong exercise that I present on my site.

Do I Have to Practice Everyday?

To obtain the most benefit from deep meditative relaxation daily practice is ideal. However, any practice that you do will benefit you. I often recommend that people do some of all the different styles of relaxation, especially at first, to find what works best for you and what fits best into your lifestyle. The nice thing about these methods is that you obtain immediate rewards in the form of relaxation, calmness, a sense of well-being. However, the long-term rewards of practice as described above are even more beneficial.

Arias, A.J., Steinberg, K., Banga, A., Trestman, R.L. (2006). Systematic review of the efficacy of meditation techniques as treatments for medical illness. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicince, 12, 817-32.

Biegler, K.A., Chaoul, M.A., Cohen, L. (2009). Cancer, cognitive impairment, and meditation. Acta Oncologica, 48, 18-26.

Chiesa, A. (2009), Zen meditation: an integration of current evidence. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicince, 15, 585-92.

Chiesa, A., Serretti, A. (2009). A systematic review of neurobiological and clinical features of mindfulness meditations. Psychological Medicince, 27, 1-14.

Epel, E., Daubenmier, J., Moskowitz, J.T., Folkman, S., Blackburn, E. (2009). Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1172, 34-53.

Grant, J.A., Rainville, P. (2009). Pain sensitivity and analgesic effects of mindful states in Zen meditators: a cross-sectional study. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71, 106-14.

Lagopoulos, J., Xu, J., Rasmussen, I., Vik, A., Malhi, G.S., Eliassen, C.F., Arntsen, I.E., Saether, J.G., Hollup, S., Holen, A., Davanger, S., Ellingsen, O. (2009). Increased theta and alpha EEG activity during nondirective meditation. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11, 1187-92.

Manzoni, G.M., Pagnini, F., Castelnuovo, G., Molinari, E. (2008). Relaxation training for anxiety: a ten-years systematic review with meta-analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 2, 8-41.

Moore, A., Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Conscious Cognition, 18, 176-86.

Stoelb, B.L., Molton, I.R., Jensen, M.P., & Patterson, D.R. (2009). The efficacy of hypnotic analgesia in adults: a review of the literature. Contemporary Hypnosis, 26, 24-39.

Intro to Meditative Relaxation--page 1