The ’61 point relaxation technique’ comes from the book Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming by Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold. They adapted this technique from Swami Rama’s Exercise Without Movement.
It is a very simple and easy relaxation technique, and it is something you can do anywhere.
Whether you’re lying in bed, sitting at your desk at work or waiting in line at the store, you can use this technique to help you relax and meditate.
Many of us go through the day governed by the future.
We race from one thing to the next hoping to find fulfilment. This search is endless and futile. We never stop to explore our inner worlds, and if we do, it’s only for a brief moment. When then slip back into trying to find our joy in the next moment.
Our minds often convince us that we need to constantly be on the go, filling our time with external stimulation. Thankfully, there are certain methods which bring us into a meditative state.
When we take attention away from our racing minds, appreciation of life as it is in this moment becomes our reality. This is known as acceptance.
Using the 61 point relaxation method is a great way to focus your attention inward. By being aware of the various points of the body, your mind becomes tranquil and still. By following the instructions in this post, rest assured that you can experience all of the benefits of this technique.
In this post, we will cover:
- What is the 61 point relaxation method?
- How to do the 61 point relaxation method, step by step
- How does this technique help with lucid dreaming?
- What are the other benefits of the 61 point relaxation method?
- What if my mind wanders?
What is the 61 point relaxation method?
The 61 point relaxation method is a practice which originated in Himalayan tradition. It is used to relax the body and mind, restoring energy. The method gently brings your attention inward, by focusing attention on 61 internal points which are linked to energy filled parts of the body.
How to do the 61 point relaxation method step by step
- Step 1: Preparation
- Step 2: Memorise the 61 points
- Step 3: Slowly feel each part mentally
- Step 4: Repeat and practice doing it without losing your place
- Step 5: Reflect
Here is a step by step guide with instructions on how to do the method.
Step 1: Preparation
You can perform the 61 point relaxation technique in most locations and situations. However, it is most effective when you are in a quiet environment, preferably laid down comfortably. This will make it easier to focus completely on the sensations inside your body, without the potential for distractions.
Traditionally, the name for the 61 point method is shavayatra, which translates as “travelling through the corpse.”
Although that may sound slightly morbid, it makes sense that your body should be still and laid down in order to get the full effects.
Before looking at the 61 points and beginning the memorisation process, it is a good idea for you to bring the mind into a state of relaxation. The more relaxed you are before starting the method; the more likely you are to remain present throughout.
Try to avoid looking at screens for at least half an hour before attempting the technique. Blue lights can be especially detrimental to relaxation as I’ve explained before.
The constant influx of information is likely to increase the speed and weight of your thoughts.
Also, it is best to try the method either on an empty stomach or after your last meal has digested.
The sensations in the body appear much stronger when the system is relaxed. Digestion is a process which requires a lot of energy, and will make it more difficult to feel the 61 points of the body.
Step 2: Memorise the 61 points!
This relaxation technique states that the human body has 61 points. In order for you to be able to do this technique, you need to memorise all the points of the body and their sequence, which are all listed at the later in this post.
This may sound like a daunting task. Don’t worry; it is not a difficult thing to do, mainly because all of the points on the body are arranged in a very logical pattern.
It all begins with the forehead. Then, they travel down and up the right arm, moving across the left arm, following the length of the torso, along both legs, back up through the torso up to the forehead.
You will find that after a few practices, your body starts to remember the 61 points based on its sensations. It is often thought that our memory is a faculty exclusive to the mind. In fact, the body has memory too.
The stronger you feel the sensations as you move through the various stages of the technique, the quicker your body will remember them.
I’ve provided a detailed list of the 61 points later in the post.
It’s important to pay attention and memorise each and every point in the body, because this is the first step to mastering this relaxation technique.
How do I practice this relaxation technique?
You need to pay attention to one point at a time, beginning at the forehead.
Start by focusing solely on the point between your eyebrows and think of the number one.
Once you feel that you are aware of this point and its location is a distinct spot in your mind, you need to think of yourself being located in that exact point. And before you move on to the next one, you need to start feeling warm and heavy at this spot.
It will most likely be easier if you have some experience in meditation practices. If not, don’t be discouraged, there are techniques which can bring you into a meditative state within minutes.
Inner body awareness is a skill that can take time to develop.
Once you experience the sensations associated with this technique, it will become easy to quickly access them. It is important not to judge your attempts at first. After a lifetime of being encouraged to look outwards for stimulation, directing your attention to internal sensations can be tricky initially.
It is important to be patient with yourself at first.
A good way to ensure that you master this technique is by performing it twice per day, one time straight after the other. This act of repetition will embed the points into your memory.
If you find that a certain point of the body provides you with strong sensations, you can hold your attention on it. There’s no rush to get through the technique, and they key is in the feeling. It may be that some points of your body are more energy-rich than others. If this is the case, focus on them for as long as it feels good.
Step 3: Slowly feel each part mentally
Start out slow, and try imagining yourself as being placed at each of the points as you are reaching them. Make sure that you feel a sense of warmth and heaviness before you move to the next one.
Please note that you shouldn’t allow your mind to wander away and be completely focused.
This may be difficult at the beginning and you might find yourself forgetting what you had been doing at times or daydreaming away or even thinking about something completely different.
But be patient. If you happen to lose your place, simply return to the beginning, or, if you remember, return to the last point that you focused on, and then continue from there.
The breath is a very useful tool for redirecting your focus and dissociating from the stream of thinking. When you lose focus, taking deep, conscious breaths and following the sensation of the air entering your body is a great way to get back into this method.
Detaching from the end result is the key.
All of the benefits will come, but you have to become present in order to enjoy them.
Step 4: Repeat and practice doing it without losing your place
In the same way that you did the first step, you need to do it with each point on your body in succession. You need to practice doing this with the first thirty-one points until you can focus on all of them in a sequence without losing your spot or having your mind wander away.
Finally, once you’re able to attend to each of the thirty-one points in a sequence without getting distracted in any way, you can now repeat the steps with all of the sixty-one points.
This is when you need to start practising going through each of the sixty-one points without letting your mind drift away.
The 61 point relaxation technique encourages you to enter a deep state of concentration.
It requires INTENSE focus.
It is therefore to be expected that you may struggle to complete the whole method when you are starting out. Even if you get halfway through the 61 points then your mind begins to wander and you lose focus, you have still received the benefits of your efforts so far.
Practice makes perfect with this technique. However it is important to notice when you have reached your limits. If you are struggling to focus, it may be time to leave it for a while and pick up where you left off later. The technique should be a challenge, but it should also be enjoyable.
How does this technique help with lucid dreaming?
It’s very simple. The intense internal focus that you are going to practice is going to induce hypnagogia, where you’ll find that you’ll start seeing some dream scenes. This is especially true if you try practising when you wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning.
A state of relaxation is required for lucid dreaming. The body must be tranquil, while the mind is alert. By practising the 61 point relaxation technique you induce a state of deep, alert presence which can only be beneficial to the practice of lucid dreaming.
The same technique is used as a launch pad into wake induced lucid dreaming (WILD) where you surrender your awareness of your physically waking state straight into a sleeping lucid dream state.
The 61 Points
- 1— Point between the eyebrows
- 2—Hollow of the throat
- 3—Right shoulder joint
- 4—Right elbow joint
- 5—Middle of the right wrist
- 6—Tip of the right thumb
- 7—Tip of the index finger
- 8—Tip of the middle finger
9—Tip of the fourth finger (ring finger)
- 10—Tip of the small finger
- 11—Right wrist joint
- 12—Right elbow joint
- 13—Right shoulder joint
- 14—Hollow of the throat
- 15-26—Repeat points 3-14 on the left
- 27—Heart centre
- 28—Right nipple
- 29—Heart centre
- 30—Left nipple
- 31—Heart centre
- 32—Solar plexus (just below the bottom of the breast bone)
- 33—Navel centre (2 inches below the physical navel)
- 34—Right hip joint
- 35—Right knee joint
- 36—Right ankle joint
- 37—Right big toe
- 38—Tip of the second toe
- 39—Tip of the third toe
- 40—Tip of the fourth toe
- 41—Tip of the small toe
- 42—Right ankle joint
- 43—Right knee joint
- 44—Right hip joint
- 45—Navel centre (2 inches below physical navel)
- 46-56—Repeat points 34-45 on the left side
- 57—Navel centre (2 inches below the physical navel)
- 58—Solar plexus
- 59—Heart centre
- 60—Hollow of the throat
- 61—Centre between the eyebrows
What are the other benefits of the 61 Point relaxation method?
Meditation is a hugely beneficial practice. The positive effects it has on stress levels has been well documented in recent years. At the same time, it is a practice which can take a long to perfect.
For many people, sitting stationary and observing thoughts is a difficult task. It can cause them to feel restless and frustrated at their incompetence, which is the opposite of its desired effect.
Thankfully, techniques such as the 61 point relaxation method act as a pathway into the state of meditation. The act of guiding your conscious attention through the energetic pathways of the body causes thoughts to slow down. Eventually, the mental commentary can be controlled.
This detachment from the stream of thinking allows you to be completely present.
When presence arises, stress, anxiety and worry all lose their weight over you.
By the time you have finished the 61 point relaxation method, you should feel peaceful and in a state of relaxation. When you practice the method frequently, the act of looking inward can transform your experience of life.
When you become well practised at shifting your attention inward, you are no longer at the mercy of your thoughts. Things will happen in life, and you might catch yourself before you react. Many of our reactions are automatic. We perform them unconsciously.
As you practice the 61 point method, it teaches you to observe your thoughts and feelings instead of being completely invested in them. The result is that you feel a deep sense of inner peace that is accessible whenever you choose to focus upon it.
Although detaching from your thoughts and feelings may sound like you are turning to stone, it actually makes your thinking more effective.
The paradox is that when you are able to take breaks from thinking, and from the external distractions, your mind becomes refreshed. Your thoughts are renewed.
Ideas flow, because you have created a gap in the stream which allows inspiration to enter.
What if my mind wanders during the relaxation?
If you try the 61-point relaxation technique and find that your thoughts don’t slow down, it’s important not to get disheartened. The nature of the mind is to scan our environment for danger or opportunity.
We have been told since birth to search for external fulfilment. This method is your gateway into peace, and to the eternal present moment which resides inside all of us.
A common method for quieting the mind, is ‘conscious listening’.
A lot of the time, we don’t notice the various sounds which surround us due to our attention being in the mind. If you find it hard to focus on the 61 points due to your mind being too active, try the practice of deep, conscious listening. It’s one of the simplest methods of stilling the mind and you can do it anytime, anyplace.
Simply close your eyes, and ask yourself the question “what can I hear?”.
Listen attentively to every sound as they move and transform into new sounds. There’s no need to label the sounds, just witness them and allow them into your conscious attention.
You will likely find that there are many sounds which you weren’t aware of.
Maybe there is a barking dog in the far distance, the quiet hum of traffic on a nearby road, people talking down the street. This practice will bring you back into the present, and you can start the 61 point technique again in a relaxed state.
It takes patience, time and acceptance to quiet your thoughts. If you are unfamiliar with meditation and breathing exercises, there is a simple diaphragmatic breathing exercise called the Wim Hof method which is a great introduction.
Experience is the greatest teacher
Now that you are aware of how to practice the 61-point relaxation technique, the only thing left to do is experience it for yourself. Remember, the aim of the method is to direct our attention inward and create a state of inner peace. It is not a competition; there is no external goal to be achieved. If done correctly, the technique should remove stress and anxiety from your mind.
The beauty of meditation practices is that every person has their own unique experience from them.
When we explore the depths of our inner worlds, we learn so much about ourselves which we weren’t aware of before.
Are you ready to go on a journey of inner self discovery? The 61 point relaxation technique is a great place to start.