Did you relax at the weekend?
Did you relax yesterday after work?
The power of the relaxation response is a healing state and in this state, your inherent tendencies towards balance and harmony are given the opportunity to express themselves. The relaxation response has been the province of study of Mystics and Spiritual Seekers for thousands of years. They all discovered that the mind was the primary obstacle to full relaxation, spiritual growth and insight. As a result, hundreds of traditions have evolved on how to calm your mind, because full relaxation of the body begins with relaxation of the mind.
Thousands of mind/body programs have been developed as a means to reduce stress and create the relaxation response. We generally tend to associate relaxation with chilling out in front of the t.v., catching up on our favourite programs or box set; taking a nap; talking with friends or family; or going to the movies. It is generally not doing anything that is physically challenging.
But is that actually relaxation? While those activities may be resting the body, your mind is busily engaged, and you are reacting to feelings, thoughts and images passing through your mind. If you were to look up the definition of relaxation, a dictionary would define it as ‘a state of being free from tension and anxiety’ or perhaps ‘the act of relaxing the mind and the body
The type of relaxation I am interested in, is the one that you can experience as you go about your daily business, and that will bring you positive benefits. We all know that stress is a ‘silent killer’ but let’s look at the effects it’s having on your body.
When you experience stress your body releases a surge of hormones including adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine. Cortisol is a steroid hormone and if you are continually stressed, your body will continue to release it. For those wanting to lose weight, Cortisol is Public Enemy No. 1 because it stimulates fat. Continual release of this hormone increases the appetite, stimulates glucose production and this excess glucose is typically converted into fat, ending up as stored fat.
If that wasn’t enough, continued stress (1) suppresses the immune system (2) increases your heart rate (3) elevates your blood pressure (4) decreases the libido (5) increases fluid retention and (6) also can also cause acne.
But, and there is always a but, it is possible to develop a relationship with your mind, bring it under control if you like, so that you can not only enjoy the benefits but also exit any chaotic activity in your life.
The benefits include (1) decreased muscle tension (2) decreased blood pressure (3) the mind calms (4) your oxygen consumption alters (5) decreased heart rate (6) no excess production of cortisol, which means on excess fat being stored.
There are many ways you can develop a new relationship with your mind and here are a few that I recommend:-
A brisk walk
Stress Reduction Techniques – Meditation / Yoga / Mindfulness or Breathing Techniques
How you perceive stress is important and you can learn new ways to react to perceived stressful situations. Mindfulness will enable you to look at situations from a new vantage point.
When you chose a new technique, make a commitment to practice it. Persevere with it, despite any resistance that may present itself. You may think to yourself sometimes, ‘I’m not getting anywhere with this’, ‘I’m not doing it right’, ‘It’s just not working for me” or even ‘this is boring’ but commit to the practice and the results will be forthcoming.
Set a time and create a space to practice your technique and, your body and mind will learn to expect relaxation at this time, in this place. Be sure to close off all possible distractions, phones, ipads, ipods, etc.,
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