That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the mind-body connection. Using your thoughts and memories to positively influence some of your body’s physical responses can decrease stress and elevate your mood. Recalling or imagining an experience can often generate similar mental and physical responses to those you have during the actual event.
There are a host of empowering mind-body exercises that have been proven to help people decrease anxiety, pain, and the use of medication; enhance sleep and recovery time from injury or illness; strengthen the immune system and one’s sense of control and well being.
The goal of calming and relaxation exercises is to help change the way you perceive a situation and react to it: to help you feel more in control, more confident or secure, and also to activate healing processes within the body. Practicing these exercises for 10-15 minutes a day will help you achieve a quiet mind more quickly when a stressful situation arises, and as Carole Tessier points out in Happiness, the Best Medicine, could be the single most important thing we do for our health.
One Breath At A Time
Easily the most portable tool in your possession, your breathing practice can make for a world of difference anywhere, anytime. Oxygen is the source of all energy in the body, so everyone should be paying closer attention to breathing correctly. Proper breathing eliminates toxins in the body, purifies your blood, improves sexuality, and enables you to assimilate food better.
Once again, Carole Tessier comes to the rescue with The Healing Breath, sharing calming exercises that will help get you on the right track. After you’ve become comfortable with mindful breathing, try incorporating visualization of a happy event or memory. Talk about getting more bang for your breath! Happiness, the Best Medicine, could be the single most important thing we do for our health.
Leave No Muscle Unturned
Progressive muscle relaxation involves sequentially tensing, and then relaxing, specific muscle groups in the body. By isolating and addressing one area at a time, and progressing through the entire body, you can ensure that nothing is missed, and bring the benefit of relaxation to your entire body.
The key to this exercise is to tighten a specific muscle group for at least 5 seconds until you feel the tension, and then release the muscles for 10 seconds. Start by relaxing the muscles in your feet, then your legs, up through your torso, and work up through each muscle group to your neck shoulders and scalp. With each group, keep awareness in your mind of how the muscles feel while being tensed and then after being relaxed.
Staying Sharp Without Stress
Sometimes it seems like an impossible task to avoid stress in the modern world. We intensely feel the pressures of work, raising a family, keeping up socially, and maintaining our homes, We almost feel that juggling all of theses demands requires a hyper-alert consciousness, and that we’re falling short that’s not what we’re bringing. Here’s the problem: this near constant state of “fight or flight” causes stress on our minds and bodies that will, sooner or later, take a toll on our health.
If only there was a way to be alert, aware and productive without the stress....well, there is. Kristin Shaw explains it all here in Meditation for Clarity. You can have it all.
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