61-Point Relaxation

The following relaxation exercise comes from Stephen LaBerge and Howard Rheingold’s Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming (1990), which they adapted from Swami Rama’s Exercise Without Movement (1984). It’s one of my favourite meditations—one that I can do in bed, waiting in line at the bank, or while riding in a taxi. Anywhere I can be still, really. I need more practice, though, because I rarely succeed in ending on the number 61. I’m often off by one or two.

I believe I like this meditation because it is methodical, with clearly laid out steps to take. Plus each step gives me feedback that feels good, and also serves to tell me when to move on to the next step. Aside from keeping track of the number I’m on, I rarely get lost.

Please try it. You’ll need to experience it for yourself to see if this method suits you.

1. Study the figure

The figure below illustrates 61 points on the body. To do this exercise, you need to memorize the sequence of points. (This is not difficult, because the points are arranged in a simple pattern.) They begin at the forehead, travel down and up your right arm, then across to your left arm, down your torso, down and up your right and left legs, then back up your torso to the forehead.

[61-point relaxation diagram]

2. Focus your attention on one point at a time

Begin at your forehead. Focus your attention between your eyebrows and think of the number one. Keep your attention fixed at Point 1 for several seconds until you feel that your awareness of the location is clear and distinct. Think of your self being located at this point. Before moving on to the next point, you should feel a sense of warmth and heaviness at this spot.

3. Move through each point in sequence

In the same manner, successively focus your attention on each of the first thirty-one points. Proceed slowly, and imagine your self being located at each point as you reach it. Feel the sense of warmth and heaviness before moving on. Do not allow your mind to wander. At first you may find this difficult to do; you will discover that at times you suddenly will forget that you are doing the exercise and start daydreaming or thinking about something else. If you lose your place, return to the beginning or the last numbered point you attended to, and continue. Practice with thirty-one points until you can attend to them all in sequence without daydreaming or losing track.

4. Extend your practice to include all sixty-one points

When you can attend to thirty-one points in sequence, repeat Steps 1 and 2 with all sixty-one points. Practice this until you can do all points without losing your focus. Now you are ready to use this exercise with lucid dream induction techniques.

11 thoughts on “61-Point Relaxation

  1. Flytende

    There are some additional points witch would be extreemly healpful to include. bacouse this wil no just help the lucid dreaming, it will help the owerall chi flow of the body.

    to help L.D. even more, include a point at the back of the neck, right where the spine meets the head. often called “medulla” point or chakra. It’s a powerfull place for dreaming.

    for the chi flow, start at a point at the top of the head, and end there, that wil give you a sence of overlook of all the other points.

    and if you include a point at the base of the spine, it wil give you a sence of grounding, of stability..

    Now, if you do this on autopilot, you wil stop improving, attention is key.
    so if you can, always end the whole thing, by trying to feel every point simultaniusly, as one whole.

    there are actually millions of points, to many to ever track down, but when doing the whole thing as one pattern, this other points will emerge anyway.

    there is no end to the pontential improvment of this, the trick is to awoid doing it unconsiously, autopilot like. (like trying to feel the points, as if you have never don so, even though you have millions of times. As if what the point feels like now, is something new, somthing diffrent is happening now, it’s not exactly the same.)

    (and please excuse the weard spelling, english in not my first language)

    love and play
    Erik

  2. Darren Post author

    Thank you everyone for the discussion!

    Lyds and Staarlyte: Hmm. Thanks for pointing me in this direction. I’ve done some research and discovered that the Silva Method appears to use a similar “body scanning” relaxation such as this one, but instead of the relaxation being the end goal, the Silva Method uses the state of relaxation (the Alpha Level) as a platform from which to program the subconscious mind (and to program the rest of the Universe, for that matter) to effect positive change in one’s life. From my perspective, it looks like a combination of self-hypnosis and creative visualization. I’ve begun working through the free lessons given at http://www.silvaultramindsystem.com, and I’m looking forward to getting better at reaching the Alpha state each time. (“Every day and in every way, I’m getting better and better!”)

    Robert: Wonderful! A meditation podcast. I’m glad you found me, so now I’ve found you. 🙂

    Erik: Good information, and don’t worry about the spelling. I appreciate your effort and your ideas. Thanks!

  3. Yo

    Breathe in and out at every point and give thanks for each point. Think how each point on the drawing helps you get through life. Learned this when I was 13. A foundation of sorts.

  4. Bill Perry

    Darren,
    Great post, and love the accompanying diagram. I loaned my copy of LaBerge’s book to a friend back in the 90’s while still in the Navy and never got it back. I’ll have to give this a shot, although I’d really love to give the Silva thing a shot too!

  5. matt

    “I just stumbled upon this blog. What could be disadvantages of excessive lucid dreaming?”

    Probably nothing, I could see you maybe not getting as restful sleep without going into deeper states of sleep, but I don’t think that should happen. If anything Lucid Dreaming would work like a sleep excersize to improve restfulness as well as the mental benefits of sleep and dreaming.

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