In 1970, when Wally Minto started doing workshops about the connection between relaxation and health, the medical community wasn't exactly convinced.

But that was nearly 20 years ago, before stress became the multimillion-dollar industry it is today. These days Minto speaks at medical conventions.That doesn't mean that Wally Minto doesn't have some ideas that still might be considered unconventional. His Alpha Awareness Training takes the powers of the mind quite a few steps further than just stress-reduction.

"You can literally change your environment by changing your thinking," he says. "If you want to change your income, change your thinking."

Although that may sound like old-fashioned positive thinking, the kind that Minto himself grew up on, his techniques go beyond just that, he says.

Alpha Awareness Training utilizes relaxation techniques to help adults function more in their subconscious minds, as children do naturally, says Minto, who will present his ideas in Salt Lake City May 1 through 5.

The training session will be at Salt Lake Community College, Room 203 of the Rampton Building. The session is free. For more information call 967-4214.

Children heal more rapidly, learn more rapidly and fall asleep more rapidly than adults, says Minto, because of their ability to utilize their subconscious minds. But it's an ability that we educate children out of, he notes. "We tell them make-believe is wrong. We teach them to focus on a conscious state of mind."

Through relaxation and creative imagery - essentially by letting the mind wander - adults can get back to that calmer state, says Minto.

"In a state of calmness," he explains, "the mind can function more creatively. So thoughts can get into the long-term memory."

Minto says he receives 15 to 20 letters a day from people who have used his techniques to rid themselves of phobias, from claustrophobia to fear of public speaking.

Alpha Awareness techniques can also lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and help the body heal, he says. "It's amazing the number of health problems that dissipate."

Minto, who lives in northern California, has taught Alpha Awareness Training to an estimated quarter of a million people since 1970, including about 5,000 Utahns.

Jerry Hayes, co-owner of Hayes Brothers Buick-Jeep, attended his first Alpha Awareness course in 1974. Since then he has attended Minto's post-graduate training course dozens of times.

"Most people think you have to have something in order to do something in order to be something," notes Hayes. "But the universe works the opposite way." Through Alpha Awareness, he says, he has learned to change his attitudes and thereby change his behavior and his relationships.

Larry Christensen, a psychology professor at Salt Lake Community College, took Minto's course last February and has been practicing the relaxation techniques since. "The unconscious mind has lots of knowledge," he says "If we can tap into it it has the answers to life."