The Magic Triangle Relaxation Method

Magic Circle Relaxation 01by Terence T. Gorski, Author

Developed By Terence T. Gorski for use in Relapse Prevention Therapy (RPT) in 1995

Most relapse prone people have serious problems with stress that can lead to relapse. It is important to teach relaxation techniques that can be used to turn off or significantly reduce the immediate stress response when it occurs. Mindfulness mediation has become a popular evidence-based relaxation method, but there are other relaxation techniques that are also effective.

The Smorgasbord Approach To Relaxation Training

Relaxation training has been consistently integrated into the CENAPS® Model of Relapse Prevention since about 1985. Another blog with cover the seven core approaches to relaxation training and meditation used Certified Relapse Prevention Specialist (CRPS) and found to be helpful in their work.

The Magic Triangle Relaxation Technique is one specific application that integrates one application that has been used in the Relapse Prevention Certification School for many decades. It is not the only method that works, it is one of the methods.

Patients seem to do better when given a choice of relaxation techniques, and opportunity to experiment with the different core techniques, and the ability to choose what work best for them. Many Relapse Prevention Specialists have found that they can easily develop a personal relaxation exercise by combining the core approaches in a personalize script.

The Magic Triangle Relaxation Technique is one of the best techniques for teaching immediate relaxation response training because it involves a combination of deep breathing, guided imagery, and autosuggestion. The technique is called the Magic Triangle Relaxation Technique because it uses the focal image of a triangle to induce relaxation.

Self-Monitoring of Effectiveness

Self-monitoring is an evidence-based practice that is based upon the principle that regular self-evaluation of the effectiveness of a therapy technique tends to increase it’s effectiveness. Cognitive behavior therapists have found that using a simple subjective ten-point scale increases the effectiveness of self-monitoring.

The Stress Thermometer is simple stress scale for measuring the intensity of stress from patients on a self-report basis. The scale ranges from 1 -10 and allows easy measurement of four levels of stress:

  • Incapacitating Stress (Level 10),
  • High stress (Level 7-9),
  • Moderate stress (3-5) and
  • Low stress (1-3)

Before beginning and the end of each relaxation session ask the patient self-evaluate their current level of stress. At the end of the session, the therapist and patient compare the two scores and discuss which part of the relaxation training was most helpful. By keeping track of the scores and the technique used across sessions, patients can more accurately evaluate what works best for them as individuals. If patients do not perceive their stress level is decreased by the relaxation technique they are using, or if the technique actually raised their perceived stress, they rapidly lose the motivation build relaxation training into their recovery and healthy lifestyle plan.

The Magic Triangle Technique

Here is a detailed description of how to use the technique.

  1. Give a General Relaxation suggestion

“Take a deep breath and sit back in your chair. I am going to teach you an immediate relaxation response exercise called the Magic Triangle Relaxation Technique. Once you learn it, you will be able to use this technique to help you to turn off or significantly reduce stress whenever you become tense or agitated.”

  1. Give the Suggestion of Total Control and Safety

“You will be in total control of this relaxation process. If at any time you feel uncomfortable or frightened, all you need to do is to open your eyes, sit up, and look around the room and you will come back to the present.”

  1. Change Your Body Posture

“Change your body posture in the chair. Sit up straight, put your feet flat on the floor and look straight ahead. Find a spot on the wall or a spot in space in front of you. You can allow your eyes to close if it is comfortable, but you can also leave your eyes open and stare blankly in front of you as you let your mind relax and wander. You can do what feels best for you to do.”

  1. Body-awareness and Relaxation

“Notice your feet. Notice the pressure of your feet on the floor. Notice the feeling in your feet. Now say to yourself: ‘My feet are warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my feet.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

“Now notice your legs. Notice the feelings in your lower and upper legs. Now say to yourself: ‘My legs are warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my legs.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

“Now notice your lower body. Notice the feelings in your buttocks, lower back, and lower stomach. Feel the weight of your body pressing into your chair. As you are feeling the weight of your body say to yourself: ‘My lower body is warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my lower body.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

“Now notice your upper body. Notice the feelings in your chest and upper back. Feel the weight of your body pressing into your chair. As you are feeling the weight of your body say to yourself: ‘My upper body is warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my upper body.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

“Now notice your arms and shoulders. Notice the feelings in your arms and shoulders. Feel the weight of your arms as they rest comfortably on your lap. Notice the feeling of your arms gently pulling down on your shoulders. Notice any tension in your arms and shoulders and, if it is comfortable to do so, adjust your arms and shoulders to release the tension and become more relaxed.”

“As you are feeling the feelings in your arms and shoulders, say to yourself: ‘My arms and shoulders are warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my arms and shoulders.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

“Now notice your neck. Notice the feelings in your neck. Notice any tension in your neck and, if it is comfortable to do so, adjust your neck by rotating it gently to release the tension and become more relaxed.”

“As you are feeling the feelings in your neck, say to yourself: ‘My neck is warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my neck.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

“Now notice your head and scalp. Notice the feelings in your head and scalp. Imaging your scalp tingling with a warm sense of relaxation.”

“As you are feeling the feelings in your head and scalp, say to yourself: ‘My head
and scalp is warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my head and scalp.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

“Notice your face. Notice any tension in your face. Notice your jaw and allow it to relax. Feel how heavy your jaw is becoming and allow your jaw to relax. If it is comfortable to do so, adjust your jaw by rotating it gently to release the tension and become more relaxed. Notice the feelings around your eyes. If it is comfortable to do so, move the muscles around your eyes to release any tension.”

“As you are experiencing the feelings in your face, jaws, and eyes, say to yourself: ‘My face, jaws, and eyes are warm and comfortable. I feel a tingling sense of relaxation in my face, jaws, and eyes.’” (Repeat this suggestion three to five times)

  1. Deep Breathing

“Notice your breathing. Notice how your breath flows in and out of your body. Notice that you can regulate how quickly or slowly you breath. Take a deep breath, hold it for a moment until your lungs feel tense, then slowly exhale. Take another deep breath, hold it for a moment until your lungs feel tense, then slowly exhale. One more time. Take another deep breath, hold it for a moment, slowly exhale.”

“Notice if you are breathing from high in your chest or low in the stomach. As you notice your breathing, lower the breathing deep into your stomach. Imagine your lower stomach going in and out with each breath you take.”

  1. Rhythmic Breathing

“Now, as you are listening to my voice and noticing yourself relax, slowly breath in to the count of four and out to the count of four. As you breath in allow your breathing to fill the lower part of your stomach. As you breath out feel the lower part of your stomach relax. Inhale … one, two, three, four .— exhale … one, two, three, four …hold it a moment.” (Repeat this for five to ten breaths)

  1. Visualizing the Triangle and Ball

“Now, visualize a black background before your eyes. See a bright red triangle, pointing up, with equal sides appearing on this deep black background. See the deepness of the red color within the triangle.”

“Now imagine a bright yellow ball at the bottom right hand side of the triangle. Imagine the ball rolling slowly up to the top of the triangle as you count slowly to four. Bring the ball up … one, two, three, four. Balance the ball at the top of the triangle. Bring the ball down … one, two, three, four.” (Practice this five to ten times).

  1. Combining Breathing and the Triangle and Ball

“Now, as you see the ball rising to the top of the triangle take a very slow and deep breath. As your lungs fill with air, imagine the ball balancing at the top of the triangle. As you slowly exhale, imagine the ball slowly moving down the other side of the triangle.”

Inhale … raise the ball to the top of the triangle … hold it for moment—exhale … lower the ball to the bottom of the triangle.” (Practice this five to ten times)

  1. Adding Relaxation Suggestions

“As you breath in and imagine the ball rolling to the top of the pyramid say to
yourself: ‘I am …’ as the ball rolls down the other side of the triangle say to yourself, ‘relaxing …’ ‘I am …’ Ball to the top. ‘Relaxing’ Ball to the bottom.” (Repeat five to ten times)

10. Waking Up From Relaxation

“Imagine that you are waking up in the morning from a deep and peaceful sleep. As you awaken you feel an urge to stretch and try to yawn. Take a deep, deep breath. Slowly come awake feeling the urge to stretch and yawn. Open your eyes, stretch your arms over your head. Come back fully awake feeling rested and alert.”

Macintosh HD:Users:tgorski:Documents:docs:0-Blogs:0-terrygorski_blog:TTG_Blog_Relaxation_Magic_Triangle_Method.doc

4 Responses to The Magic Triangle Relaxation Method

  1. stuartcline says:

    Reblogged this on Tools to live an Inspired Life- Stuart Cline and commented:
    I heard T Gorski talk about this at a conference in Florida. De-stressing a key to metal health. Give it a try.

    • Terry Gorski says:

      Chronic high stress causes brain damage and impairs neurocognitive functioning. Yet the world continues to be a stressful place to live and children receive no instruction in school in how to effectively manage stress. Sometimes you just have to say Tango Wilko Foxtrot. Laughing in the face of tragedy is a time tested way tub reduce stress. When the face of death grins at us, the only thing we an do to manage it is to grin back or perhaps break out laughing. Be of good cheer and stress levels seem to go down. Check out this article.
      This is an amazing book but currently out of print. Brennan, Does Stress Damage The Brain

  2. Thanks Terry, I’ve been using this for many years and most people really get into it. Some need to change the visuals to make it work for them but as you said you need to use what works for the person. Thanks for this great tool. Onward & Upward, Steve G.

  3. […] I also used a meditation technique called The Magic Triangle Relaxation. It is described here: https://terrygorski.com/2014/05/08/magic-triangle-relaxation-method/ […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: