Close your eyes and trace around the outline of your features with your fingertips. What do the contours of your face feel like? What about the face of your skin? Smooth beneath your touch or rough and weathered?
What do the lobes of your ears, the shape of your nose, your chin, forehead and hair feel like? Trace your fingers around your lips – are they full or narrow, dry or moist?
Exercise Six: Developing Your Kinaesthetic Sense
Of special interest and importance to anyone who takes part in a sport and wants to improve their performance or give themselves a competitive advantage.
Kinaesthetic sense, which elite athletes, gymnasts, acrobats, dancers, actors and mime artists possess to a very high degree, refers to a sense of what is going on inside your body. By turning your focus inward and noticing what happens when sitting, lying, standing or moving you will build up a much better picture of your biodynamics, that is how you are use the more than two hundred bones and six hundred muscles of which your body is constructed.
You will also be able to pick up needless tensions, especially in the muscles of the face? Check now – is your forehead wrinkled or smoothed out? Are your back teeth clenched? Is your tongue resting loosely in your mouth? How are you sitting, what is happening inside the muscles of your lower back and shoulders? When moving around try and observe which groups of muscles are contracting and which are relaxing. Remember muscles cannot “push” only “pull” to make a movement.
When “slicing” the lemon in the exercise above, for instance, your biceps contracted and your triceps, at the back of your upper arm, relaxed as you raised the blade. Then, as you brought it down to slide the lemon, the triceps contracted while the biceps relaxed.
Not only is such bodily awareness essential when constructing a Sensualisation concerning a sporting activity or similar activity in which movement is all important, but it will also help you become more aware of any barriers you may unintentionally be erecting that prevent effective breathing.
When carrying out these training exercises, bear the following points in mind.
1: Don’t be surprised or disappointed if, at first, you find it difficult to concentrate on any single sensation since it is quite likely that unwanted thoughts will intrude. Should this happen simply notice you were distracted before calmly returning to the exercise. After a while these intrusive ideas will gradually decrease until you are able to focus all your attention to the sense being trained.
2: Try not to categorise or label any of the sights, sounds, smells and so on as you attend to them. Merely notice them in as neutral a manner as possible.
3: Do not evaluate the information, at this stage, as pleasant or unpleasant, attractive or unattractive and so on. Just experience the sensation as objectively as you are able.
4: At first you can practice focusing on different sensations in various locations. Once you have gained some experience, the next task is to take just one scene – preferably somewhere you find relaxing and agreeable – and explore it thoroughly using each of the six senses in turn. Then, during Relaxation training (See Understanding Your Anxiety) you can, if you wish, use that scene rather than the one I provide. You may find this helps you relax even better than my “off the peg” Sensualisation since it contains memories that are personal and therefore very special.
5: It is important not be become part of a Sensualisation in the sense of watching yourself as if you were acting in a movie. Always see events through your own eyes, hear them through your ears, touch, smell and taste it via your senses just as you would if you were really there.
6: If you had difficulty conjuring certain features, then return to the real life scene as soon as possible to enhance your memory. Focus mainly on those sensations which, although they formed an important part of the original scene, were poorly recalled during the Sensualisation.