This relaxation exercise consists simply in following with your attention a trail of 61 distinct points throughout the body. That is to say, you focus your attention on each of 61 distinct points in turn. At each point, notice any tension you might feel and let it go. Then go on to the next point.
You can do this practice sitting up or lying down. If you are able to do it lying down without falling asleep, it will serve very well as a deep relaxation exercise. Done sitting up it serves more as a kind of calming concentration exercise.
There are a number of options in regards to what you do at each point and how much time you spend there. In regards to what you do at each point, you have the choice of either
– silently counting the point
– imagining a small blue star (blue because it is the most calming color)
– noting the sensation at each point
– doing all of the above – or any combination thereof
So, if you choose to count the points, you start at the first point which is at the center of the forehead and you say silently to yourself, “One.” You then move to the next point at the center of the neck and count, “Two,” and so forth until you reach the 61st point. On the other hand, if you choose to imagine a blue star, you simply focus your attention on the point and imagine a blue star occupying that point and so on with each point, without counting or doing anything else.
In regards to how much time to spend, you can either time the movement of your attention with your breath, so that with each inhalation you move to the next point and with each exhalation you focus your attention there. (Exhalation is inherently more relaxing than inhalation, so it’s best to use the exhalation for the time spent at the point which you are relaxing.) Alternatively, you can completely ignore the breath and just move according to a set amount of time at a pace which you find relaxing, usually with between 2 to 5 seconds spent at each point.
Each time you focus your attention on a point, whether you are counting it, imaging the star or feeling the sensation at that point, try to feel the point and the area that surrounds it melting into a deep relaxation. If it already feels relaxed, just imagine it relaxing even more.
Expect to spend a number of sessions at the beginning just learning the proper progression of the points. Once you have them memorized and they follow effortlessly one after the other, you will begin to be able to experience the deep relaxation possible with this exercise. Alternatively, you can have someone read to you the points out loud.
The points to focus on are as follows (download the chart):