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Anxiety, Emotions and Performing Well

by Neil Sharpe
Part 2- Relaxation and Concentration

Is performing sometimes like jumping from an emotional fry pan into the fire? Welcome to the club.

How we respond to distractions, to the constant onrush of expectations, worries, and setbacks is a key factor in how we perform. If you are having trouble with pressure, you may have a hard time sleeping. Fatigue breeds anxiety. Anxiety triggers physical problems like headaches, muscles stiffness and soreness (especially in the lower back, neck, and shoulders), an upset stomach, and difficulty in swallowing.

Learning how to physically relax can make a big difference.

Physical Relaxation

1. Chee Gung

Find a quiet place, a different environment. Begin with the Write It Down technique described in Part One.

Let your arms hand loosely at your sides while keeping your back and neck straight. Close your eyes, inhale gently, and raise your arms, palms facing skyward moving upward in a large circle, until they reach full extension about your head. While inhaling, imagine that you are breathing in a cool, relaxing, blue mist. Next, slowly lower your arms, palms facing downwards, to hang loosely at your sides. As you do so, let your breath flow out, and imagine that a hot, orange stream of tension is flowing out of your body. Repeat four times or as many times as you find comfortable. Add the following.

2. Waves
  • Sit quietly in a chair. Slowly take in a deep breath, then gently let it flow out. Repeat three or four times (this exercise also can be done following the technique Counting To Ten). With your eyes closed, imagine a tap has been placed on each of your fingers and each of your toes one at a time. Feel the taps being opened one at a time. This imagery may be sketchy at first, but if you keep at it, the image will become clearer. A precise image isn't necessary; a general impression works fine.
  • Imagine your body is filled with a liquid that begins to slowly flow out when the taps are opened. Start with the top of your head and feel the liquid flowing out of the taps, opening a clear, empty space at the top of your head, then your forehead, the back of your head, your eyes, cheeks, throat, and neck leaving them relaxed, quiet, and peaceful.
  • Imagine the liquid is slowly flowing out of your shoulders, your arms, your hands, and each of your fingers. Continue this for each part of your body down to the toes.
  • Starting at the top of your head, mentally sail through your body to see whether there is any tension remaining. Feel the tension, feel through the tension, feel the tension breaking down, gradually flowing away.
  • Slowly take a deep breath, count silently to five, and then exhale slowly. Do this several times, each time feeling a wave of relaxation flowing downward from the top of your head throughout your entire body, like waves gently washing to shore, leaving your body relaxed, calm, and at peace.
Close your eyes and beginning with the top of your head, mentally trace down through your entire body, moving various muscles, while slowing counting to the number ten, then open your eyes.

With practice, this exercise can be done quickly and effectively.

In The Groove

Now that you are familiar with the basic techniques, you are ready to develop a daily routine. With practice, these integrated exercises can be done quickly and effectively.

  1. Write it Down
  2. Chee Gung
  3. Counting To Ten
  4. Clouds and Rivers (wherever required)
  5. Waves
When you are comfortable with the above routine, it's time to begin the single most critical technique, Performance Rehearsal. However, if you like, the following exercise can be added to the above routine to enhance concentration skills.
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