Top tips for relaxation
When we are anxious we may hold our breath or breathe fast and shallow. This type of breathing alters the brain chemistry, sending ‘fight or flight’ messages to the system. For quick and easy relaxation notice how you are breathing and aim to breathe long and slow from the belly, rather than from the chest.
When breathing aim to make your inhale and exhale even. Breathe in for the count of 6 and out for the count of 6. Do this a few times and then increase the number to 7, 8 and so on.
The only moment is now
Human beings have the gift of mental time travel. This means we are often in the future (‘what am I having for dinner’, ‘what if I don’t get the job’) or in the past (‘I shouldn’t have acted that way’, ‘she could have treated me differently’). When we project into the future we often are trying to answer questions that we cannot possibly know – we go through all the ‘what if’s’. Because we cannot know the answer this causes anxiety. When we are in the past usually we have feelings of regret or anger. Neither of these are helpful because the only true moment is now. When you are aware you are thinking unhelpful thought patterns bring yourself back to the moment. What am I doing now? Talk yourself through everything you are doing slowly. ‘I am standing, my shoulders are relaxed, I am breathing slowly in and out’, and so on.
Personal rituals are important for relaxation because they focus your attention and intention, making something special. For deep relaxation take as much care and attention as you can and create a wonderful experience. For a relaxing bath ritual you will probably want to pour yourself a glass of something special, light some candles, put on some relaxing music, unplug the phone etc. Give yourself plenty of time and space – be selfish. If you do this fairly regularly the mere thought of your ritual will have a relaxing effect on you!
Singing for health
Studies have shown that twenty minutes of singing reduces a stress hormone known as Cortisol in the bloodstream. There is more to singing in the bath or shower than meets the ears!
For the perfect morning pick me up try some sonic caffeine! During your morning shower try singing – or better still ‘toning’, a technique which is singing one prolonged tone, rather like Buddhist monks tone ‘OM’, but you can use any sound. Sing in a high pitch as this faster soundwave stimulates the energy system. After several minutes stop and feel the buzz!
After a busy day how about some sonic hot chocolate? Low pitches stimulate the energy system (It is no accident that Monks chant OM in a low pitch during their meditations). Spend a few moments toning a low pitch Ahh sound for optimum relaxation.
Holding on to ‘stuff’ is not good for us. When you have an unpleasant experience such as being shouted at by someone or being cut-up by a car on the motorway, rather than bottle it up try this vocal release exercise. First, make sure you are in an appropriate place to do this! Then draw on the emotion you experienced. Imagine you are a pressure cooker and you have all of this ‘stuff’ waiting to come out. Then take a breath and imagine getting hold of the feeling on the inhale. You now have the choice to either use Ahh in a tone or to use ‘sss’ like a tyre going down. Take as long as you need and imagine all of the pent up emotion coming out as you exhale. You can also use this technique to release old emotional pain.
What is the Lyz Cooper method of sound therapy and how can it help you?
Sound has been used as a powerful and effective tool for helping to improve health and wellbeing for thousands of years. More recently, the advancement of new science has provided valuable support and insight into the use of this ancient practice.
Lyz Cooper helped herself recover from a life-limiting illness by developing effective techniques using sound. Fifteen years later Lyz has a growing collection of testimonials from hundreds of people who have received benefit from receiving sound therapy.
Studies undertaken by Radox Spa indicated that 86% of us feel stressed at some point every day. When we are stressed we release hormones and chemicals such as Cortisol which, over time, can suppress the immune system and may lead to disease.
According to O’Leary (1990) ‘Chronic stress has been associated with suppression of immune function, and there is evidence that the immune system may not adapt over time.’
Sound used in a therapeutic way can reduce heart-rate, calm the brainwave frequencies, lower blood pressure and therefore reduce stress. This helps support the immune system and may help improve a wide range of stress-related illnesses.
A good sound therapist will take a full case study and then create a sonic prescription to suit each individual’s needs. They will choose appropriate instruments to play, concentrating on certain pitches as well as musical intervals to create a therapeutic space appropriate for their clients’ needs. These sounds will be played around the client, gently bathing the body, soothing the emotions and relaxing the mind.
They may give homework, such as a breathing exercise, to support them between sessions. Singing is also really beneficial for health and a technique known as ‘toning’ may also be given as homework or used as part of a treatment. According to Beck et., al (1990) ‘Mean levels of secretory Immunoglobulin A increased by 240% during a choral performance and Cortisol reduced by up to 37%’.
How Can it Help?
You can receive benefit from this wonderful modality in the following ways
- 1-2-1 treatments – for individually tailored treatments, general relaxation
- Listening to therapeutic music – for stress and relaxation
- Attending workshops – for a wide range of self-help techniques and sonic fun!
- Reading Lyz’s book – for self help and explanation of sound therapy in an easy to digest format
Or make a difference by training to be a sound therapist, practitioner or community sound-worker
For more information contact Lyz
O’Leary, A (1990) Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 108(3), Nov 1990, 363-382. doi:
Beck, R. J, Cesario, T.C, Yousefi, A, Enamoto, H (1999), Choral Singing, Performance Perception and Immune System Changes in Salivary Immunoglobulin A and Cortisol. Music Perception, Vol 18, No 1 87-106