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The Path to Relaxation: Five Steps by LivingWell fitness/yoga instructor, Sheri Minnick, MS, ERYT, GFI

The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms. — Thich Nhat Hanh

All photos taken by LivingWell art instructor, Cheri Hunt, while walking on a path outside of her home.

STEP 1: STILLNESS

Select a comfortable way to allow your body to become completely still. This may be sitting or reclined. Remove any distractions and address any areas of discomfort by adding extra layers of support. Settle into that stillness and let it support you.

STEP 2: DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING

Close your eyes and feel the flow of your breathing, allowing the breath to flow without pause. The exhalation is cleansing, the inhalation is nourishing. Let the belly expand with each breath. You can imagine a balloon inflating (inhale) and deflating (exhale).

STEP 3: SYSTEMIC RELAXATION

Use any method of the systematic relaxation that you like to release tension in the body. Three methods can be found on LivingWell's YouTube Channel.

STEP 4: BREATH AWARENESS

Now begin to focus on your attention on the feel of the breath in the nostrils. Cool air enters the nostrils, and warm air flows out. Maintain your awareness through each change in direction. Let thoughts come and go without judging or criticizing them. Simply rest your attention on the breath and relax.

STEP 5: MENTAL FOCUS

Continue feeling the breath and at the same time begin to focus on a mantra, if you have one. Or focus on ‘so-ham’, the natural sound of the breath in your mind. Think ‘so’ on the inhalation, and ‘ham’ (hum) on the exhalation. If the mind begins to wander, gently bringing yourself back to your focal point. Dismiss stray thoughts by not giving them any attention. Practice for five minutes.

Body, Breath, Mind—all three relaxed.

p.s. Take the five-step "Path of Relaxation" technique one step further: Use the key words as journal prompts for self reflection.

LivingWell art instructor Cheri Hunt, turned the artwork (above) made by LivingWell participant Linda Johansen into a table of contents for a journal. Want to know what that means? Check out the practice of Journaling and Altered Art and find a new path to unlock your thoughts, feelings and creativity.