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Relaxation Exercises for the Face

The Power of a Face

          When you look into a person’s face, you can tell a lot about their state of mind. Whether we're aware of it or not, our facial muscles naturally express our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our fears.  And when we’re stressed out, the muscles of our face look tense.  

          Because there’s such a close connection between our mental-emotional state and the muscles of our face, if you’re feeling down or depressed, simply smiling can send a message to your brain telling it to lighten your mood.  Similarly, learning to relax your face can be a powerful way of relaxing your mind, your emotions, and your whole body.

          If you’re new to relaxation exercises, or if you know that you carry a lot of tension in your face, learning to relax your face can be a good place to start learning the skill of relaxation.

Exercise 1:
Tense-Release for the Face

          If you’re new to relaxation techniques, we recommend you begin with this exercise before going on to the second one.  It will help you get more familiar with what a tense muscle and a relaxed muscle feel like.  That may sound like a no-brainer, but many of us are so used to carrying around tension that we’ve come to experience our tense muscles as normal. 

Overview

          In this exercise you’ll be bringing your attention to different parts of your face, gently tensing up each part as you inhale, holding the tension for a brief moment, and then slowly releasing the tension as you exhale.

Preparation

          Choose a place where you’re not likely to be disturbed and get into a comfortable position – either sitting up with your back straight but relaxed, or lying down.   

          Once you’ve settled in, bring your attention to your breath.  Check to see that you're breathing abdominally and let your breath gradually become slower, gentler, and a little deeper. With each exhalation, as best you can, let go of whatever you were doing, thinking, or feeling before.  Let your attention on the breath help you to settle into the present moment.

Please Note:  As you go through tensing and releasing the different parts of your face, be sure that when you tense up, to do it very gently, without strain. If you feel any pain at all, decrease the amount of tension to a level that’s comfortable for you. 

Instructions

          Bring your attention sequentially to the following parts of your face:

  1. forehead
  2. eyes
  3. cheek
  4. mouth and tongue
  5. jaw
  6. whole face

          and for each part, do the following:

  1. Keeping the rest of your face and body relaxed, take a deep breath in and gently tense up that part of your face.

  2. Hold your breath briefly and feel the tension.

  3. Exhale slowly, releasing the tension. While you exhale, focus on what your muscles feel like as they relax.

  4. Without tensing, take another deep breath in, and as you slowly exhale fully, continue to release tension from that part of your face.  As you do, imagine that part of your face softening and letting go.

  5. Let your breath return to normal and notice the sensations in that part of your face.

  6. Move on to the next part.

Transition

          After completing the exercise for your whole face, take a moment to notice any changes in your body, your mind, or your emotions.  There’s no need to think about, analyze, or judge what you observe.  Just notice and be gently and compassionately present with whatever you're experiencing.  

         Remain in this relaxed state as long as you like.  When you’re ready, slowly get up and go on to your next activity, carrying the feeling of relaxation with you.

Exercise 2: 
Mindful Relaxation for the Face

Overview

          After practicing the Tense-Release exercise for a while, you may find that you’re able to release tension from your face without first having to tense up.   In this Mindful Relaxation exercise, you simply bring a calm, mindful awareness to the area of tension and use your breath to “breathe it out.”

Preparation

         Begin by getting into a comfortable position and then take a few slow, gentle ocean breaths.  With each exhalation, let go, as best you can, of whatever you were doing, thinking or feeling before.  And just be gently present with your breath.

Instructions

          Bring your attention sequentially to the following parts of your face:

  1. forehead
  2. eyes
  3. cheeks
  4. mouth and tongue
  5. jaw
  6. whole face

and for each part, do the following:

  1. Observe the sensations there.  Notice any areas of tension without attempting to change them.  Just let yourself observe them closely without judging or manipulating them in any way. 

  2. Now, take a slow, deep ocean breath, and as you exhale, gently invite any tension in that part of your face to release and let go. 

  3. Take a second slow, deep ocean breath, and this time as you exhale, invite any remaining tension to let go.  As you do this, observe what happens without being concerned about the result. 

  4. Let your breath return to normal and notice the sensations in that part of your face.

  5. Shift your attention to the next part of your face.

Transition

          Before going on to your next activity, take a moment to notice any changes in your body or state of mind – gently, compassionately, and without judgment.   When you’re ready to move on, see if you can carry the feeling of relaxation with you.


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          If you would prefer to be guided through this exercise, you can find an audio version of both face relaxation exercises in our store.