Cue-Controlled Deep Muscle Relaxation (CC-DMR)

31/08/2016 - Captain Bunn
Cue-Controlled Deep Muscle Relaxation (CC-DMR)

CC-DMR trains your body’s large muscles to respond to the cues you give. Your task is to consciously notice what muscle tension feels like in specific areas of your body and to consciously release that tension.

First, please note that most fear of flying programs consist ONLY of this – or a similar – exercise plus some educational material on aviation.

The SOAR Program (the SOAR Video Course on DVD plus two hours of one-to-one counseling) is much, much more than education and relaxation.


If education and relaxation is enough to help you through fear of flying, we are happy to provide that to you free.

But SOAR was founded to deal with the really difficult cases of fear of flying, the cases no other program or therapist able to deal effectively with.

If you need more help that we provide free (which other programs charge for) please give us a call or enroll online.

Practice the exercise twice a day, every day, for one week, then once a day, every day, for four weeks.

At certain intervals during the exercise, you repeat a cue word, such as “loosen” or “relax.” It seems to take about five weeks of practice before the physical loosening of the muscles becomes associated with that cue word. Once that learning has taken place, the muscles will be prepared to release their tensions rapidly when that cue word is spoken.

There are three stages to this twenty-minute exercise:

Stage 1: Tense and then relax each muscle group. You will be instructed to tense a particular muscle group for a few seconds, then release the muscles and allow them to loosen. (ten minutes)

Stage 2: Allow all the muscle groups to loosen and relax. (five minutes)

Stage 3: Support and reinforce the muscle relaxation through imagery. (five minutes)

How to do it

Each day, find a comfortable and quiet place to practice.

Begin by sitting comfortably in a chair; take off your shoes and loosen any tight clothing. Close your eyes and take three deep breaths, exhaling slowly. On each exhale, say the word “relax” silently. Or you may select a word that produces more comfort for you, such as “loosen,” “quiet,” “peace,” or “calm.”

First, you tense and relax each muscle group once (Stage 1). During each relaxation phase, you repeat the word “relax” (or your selected word) with every exhale.

Next follow in your mind a visual image of the sun warming and loosening all the muscles of your body (Stage 2). You needn’t feel frustrated if you don’t feel the sensations of loosening or warming. It is essential, however, that you maintain your attention on each muscle group as it is mentioned and imagine the possibility of warmth and loosening of the muscles. Just open your mind to the possibility of change.

During the last few minutes of the exercise “go to your safe place” in your mind’s eye (Stage 3). Take a moment now to picture a scene that symbolizes comfort, relaxation, safety, warmth, and the absence of outside pressures. You might imagine yourself in some location where you were relaxed in the past, or you could choose to create a fantasy.

Spend a few minutes developing your senses within that scene. See the colors of the scene. Hear any sounds. You may even develop an aroma, such as honeysuckle or flowers, perhaps the salt air or the fresh scent that follows a rain shower.

At the end of the exercise, open your eyes, stretch your body, and slowly rise from the chair. Several guidelines will help you as you begin:

1. The more you practice a skill, the greater your ability. So, be dedicated to this project and practice, practice, practice.

2. During the ten seconds of tensing, tense only the muscle groups described. Let the rest of your body be relaxed and loose.

3. Always continue breathing while you are tensing a muscle group. Never hold your breath while tensing.

4. During each fifteen-second relaxation phase, focus on your breathing and mentally say your cue word — “relax” or “loosen” — with each exhalation.

5. Don’t evaluate or judge how well or how poorly you do during each practice. This is not a test.

6. Some days you will find it quite hard to concentrate. Your mind will tend to wander to a variety of thoughts. As soon as you notice that you have drifted off course, let go of those distracting thoughts and return to your task. Stay with it.

7. Do not expect immediate and magical relief from the practice. This process, repeated over time, trains your muscle groups to respond to a cue.

Some people will notice changes from the practice. You may find that you are more alert and rested, have an improved appetite and sleep better, are in a more positive mood and feel less overall tension. If any of these take place, consider them “icing on the cake.” Your primary task is to practice every day for five weeks.

(This text courtesy of Reid Wilson. You might enjoy his book, “Don’t Panic.”)

Image Credit:  flare–