"When I was young there was a favourite spot to which I would regularly go in order to think things through and look towards the future. Mine was a bridge that overlooked water below. Sometimes I would convince myself that if I looked hard enough towards the horizon, somehow I would be able to see what lay in store for me during the years ahead, the places I would travel to and the things I might achieve. This bridge was located at the bottom of William Street, at the entrance to the village of Portlaw in County Waterford, Ireland where I was born. It is an image that I have often used in a few of the many published books I've written since 1990.
By the time I'd reached the age of twelve, I found myself unable to walk for three years following a bad accident that resulted in me being run over by a lorry and having my body entangled with the drive shaft. In a matter of moments, dreams of a glorious football career vanished before my eyes and none of my previous future expectations seemed remotely possible of ever materialising.
I readily accepted that I would never be able to look into the future with any degree of certainty again, but in later years I did discover the great advantage to one's well-being of being able to live life in the present and look into the past and reflect upon and learn from some of the things we have seen and done. Without seeing past mistakes we could never learn to do things correctly. Without recognising past wrongs, how could we ever hope to put things right once more? In short, without the past, there can be no future for any of us.
This wonderful photo which my Facebook friend, Shirley Robson, gave me her permission to reproduce a number of years ago reminded me of the bridge of my youth. As my life progressed, favourite places where I would go to relax changed with my advancement of years.
Between the ages of 14 and 17 years of age, my secret haven to which I travelled daily was 'Bluebell Wood', down Green Lane in Hightown. Each day as I started to walk better following three years of being unable to walk, I would select a big oak tree in the centre of the wood and lay down and close my eyes. As I lay there, the only sights, sounds and smells I encountered were the tweets of birds, the occasional scurry of a hare or squirrel, the water of a nearby stream flowing over some boulders, the freshness of the breeze, the warmth of the air, the aroma of the woodland fern and the rays of sunlight breaking through the high branches of the oak tree up above.
As I lay beneath the large oak tree, my body would effortlessly sink into the ground beneath and my thoughts would float into the sky above as my whole being became synchronised with the peaceful surroundings of woodland life. I would achieve a state of total relaxation.
Over the fifty years that followed, I was to become one of the foremost Relaxation Trainers in Great Britain and I went on to teach literally thousands of people how to relax; occasionally with assembled groups of over one hundred participants, but more usually, a few dozen at a time. This magical woodland place would form the image of a 'Relaxation Tape' that I would professionally produce at the age of 32 years, of which 10,000 were freely given to highly anxious and tense people:
When my children were growing up, we would take weekly walks in Hopton Woods, Mirfield. My love of nature never left me and never will. In more recent years, especially since I was diagnosed with a terminal blood cancer that has destroyed any effective immune system, I have found refuge in a new place where I daily relax; our allotment that is situated fifty yards away from where Sheila and I live. Being in the allotment is safe for me as it keeps me away from the risk of mixing with infected humans, and my companions, the birds, squirrels, flowers and vegetables will never make me feel worse for their presence in my life. Incidentally, the book I like better than all others I have ever had published from my 67 to date is 'Tales from the Allotment' which can be purchased in either e-book format or hard copy from :
Amazon or www.lulu.com
I believe that everyone should have a special place where they can go to that they feel safe, to think things out, get away from the stress of life and to simply relax. Each one of us needs to find that special person or thing that provides the necessary moments for calm, for stress reduction, for motivation and for inspiration. Your time to find that special vehicle is now; you never know when you'll need a little bit of comfort and relaxation.
For some, it is home where they feel more relaxed and others require to get away from home for a while as they need to break all association with their daily routine before they seem able to wind down.
I have now practised and taught Relaxation skills for over sixty years and I tell you that there are physically only four stages a person needs to negotiate to reduce tension 'wherever they are':
(1) Breath calmly and slowly extend the depth of your breathing. Then change your breathing pattern to the 'abdominal breathing pattern'. This is the pattern one automatically uses when asleep. As you breathe in your tummy goes out and as you breathe out your tummy goes in.
(2) Make your body muscles as floppy as possible by first tensing them up as strenuously as you can and then releasing the tension in a burst of energy. It helps if you hold your breath while tensing up muscles and breathe out forcefully upon releasing your muscle tension. AREAS OF THE BODY TO TENSE UP AND RELAX INCLUDE HANDS, FEET, LEGS, AND FACE. You can also shake yourself to release excess muscle tension.
(3) Find yourself a comfortable place to sit down or lie down, where you will not be interrupted and which is safe. Then close your eyes and open your hands and spread your legs. No body part should be touching another ( space fingers, legs, feet etc). Then imagine any scene that you find pleasing, safe and relaxing.
(4) Put all (1)(2)(3) together. A mere ten minutes daily is sufficient to relax you. The more you daily practise a part of this process, or better still, all of the four stages I have outlined above, the easier you will find it to relax.
Do you have your favourite thinking place?"
Love and peace Bill xxx