How can relaxation exercises help in coping with anxiety disorders or depression?

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An interesting written request to me, which I publish here.

Relaxation exercises do not help in coping with mental disorders because ...

Relaxation exercises, as they are generally understood and practised, usually look like this: The person tries to relax with some guided relaxation technique or a fantasy journey / meditation. In most cases he actually succeeds very reliably. Why? Because the exercises distract him in the most pleasant way from his problematic life issues.

A guided relaxation exercise is nothing more than a guided distraction with a maximum relaxation-promoting content. Nothing more. It is not uncommon for the person with the problem to fall asleep from relaxation after a short time during an exercise session. Of course he feels this is a blessing. Unfortunately, nothing has changed at the core of his mental disorder. The disorder of his soul, completely untouched by such exercises, continues to exist.

This kind of relaxation has the same effect on a person's state of mind as relaxation while watching TV or listening to an audio book. This is not changed by whispering courage and a positive attitude to life into the person during the relaxation exercises. More than very short-term effects are not to be expected from this.

Some people find it very difficult or impossible to relax, even during guided relaxation exercises, because they develop an inner restlessness and their "head cinema" starts. This has to do with the processing activities of the soul. You can find more information on this topic in my blogs and podcasts.

A thought in between

Every human being can relax. All living beings come into the world with this basic natural disposition. There is nothing we have to practise or learn. However, a certain inner (mental and physical) order is necessary for relaxation. This makes perfect sense from an evolutionary point of view. If our body is in an inner imbalance, such as hunger or thirst, we will naturally find it difficult to relax. If we succeed with all kinds of techniques, this does not change the deficiency state of the body. If our soul is in an imbalance, i.e. its inner order is disturbed, a relaxation exercise will also not be able to change the disturbance. Here too, the inner order must first be restored.

What helps with anxiety and depression?

First of all, a basic piece of information (shortened for reasons of space). In mental disorders of all kinds, a different disturbance of the mental equilibrium becomes apparent in each case. The natural inner order is disturbed, i.e. there is disorder. Is it possible to overcome a disorder? Or fight it? No, you have to create order. Or provide the conditions for order to re-establish itself.

A distracting relaxation exercise does not create the necessary conditions for a cure of the mental disorder - a distraction-free outer stillness, on the other hand, does. If external calm prevails, then inner processes of order reliably set in. The person feels an inner restlessness, his "head cinema" starts, i.e. thoughts, images, memories and feelings start to move. Previously unprocessed things are processed; what is missing in life is sought.

Conclusion

Relaxation exercises provide people with a beneficial break and therefore there is nothing wrong with them. However, they do not help to resolve anxiety or depression. Putting down a heavy suitcase in between is good and restful, but it does not change one's weight. There are reliable ways to heal the soul, but relaxation exercises are not one of them.

But once the soul has regained its balance, relaxation (in the sense of letting go) and meditation are the means of choice to reach into the deeper realms of life and to experience oneself and the world in a completely new way.

All the best to you!