Relaxing the Mind: Deep Breathing and Mindfulness Meditations

Mindfulness is a State of Being

Mindfulness is a state of only being aware of things in the present state.  Science has proven that a meditation practice can alleviate stress, decrease anxiety, reduce chronic pain, reduce insomnia, and possibly combat heart disease. But if you spend your life anticipating a bunch of stressful situations, you cannot relax your mind.  If you worry about things outside of your control, such as your past or your future can put your body in a stress response.

Meditation-Mindfulness
Meditation-Mindfulness

With that in mind, today we will go over how to make a habit of mindfulness and develop a new behavior into your life.  It’s simple:  When you start with a specific outcome, the easiest way to get there is to build a new habit to help you achieve your goal.  Here are some guidelines.

Relax the Mind

When you want to relax your mind, breathe deeply and fully.  Do not “think” about anything.  Just focus on your breathing; deep, full breaths.  You will allow nothing but your present state of being.  There are wonderful apps, (one of my favorites is CALM) MP3’s, CD’s and downloads for purchase to help you reach this relaxed state.

You can use controlled breathing to de-stress, improve mental health and improve your circulatory system.  Being in a state of stress seems to get you stuck in an energy that does not serve you well.  This effects your circulation, as stress restricts your blood flow.  This is the root of some blood pressure and heart issues.

Observe the way you breathe

Focus on how you breathe in and breathe out.  Monitoring this unconscious process helps you to focus on what is your true present moment.  When doing this process, you temporarily set yourself free from worries and fears.

Inhale deeply, using a count of four.  Take a full four count to breathe in through your nose, then breathe out for the same four count, again through the nose.  This technique can be used anytime and anywhere, and it is great to practice right before bed to help you fall asleep.

Get also benefits from abdominal breathing.  With one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.  Breathe in deeply through your nose, stretching your lungs.  Breathe deep into your abdomen.  Aim for six to eight breaths per minute, ten minutes a day, and see how clear and stress-free your mind becomes.

Progressive Body Scan

The are multiple relaxation body scan techniques.  Dr Herbert Benson revealed a technique that allows you to use stress and anxiety as triggers that promote mental health.  Yes, you can use stress to make yourself think more clearly and feel better.

The concept is that you can act as your own internal x-ray machine and scan your body.  You move your attention into different parts of your body and sense any tension or discomfort.  With practice you can learn to recognize the difference between relaxed muscles and tense muscles.  Letting go of physical tension promotes a calming effect.

The Relaxation Response

In his book The Relaxation Response Dr. Benson introduced the approach to relieving stress, his book became an instant national bestseller. Since that time, millions of people have learned the secret — without high-priced lectures or prescription medicines. Dr. Benson is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and author of twelve books that have sold over 5 million copies, proclaims that by focusing on using the power of the mind to deliver marvelous results. The Relaxation Response has become the classic reference recommended by most health care professionals and authorities to treat the harmful effects of stress and high blood pressure.

Get in Touch with Your Senses

Practice connecting with all your senses.  Try to be mindful of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell.  When your thoughts drift away you are not connecting all of your bodily sensations.  Make an intention to focus on the present moment.

Stop being Judgmental

When practicing mindfulness, you may find yourself having difficulty overcoming any anger, sadness, anxiety or frustration.  It is best to acknowledge these emotions and not be judgmental.  Acknowledge them, accept them and then let them go.

Mindfulness improves attention span and memory

People who regularly practice mindfulness experience an expansion of working memory.  This is because mindfulness helps to avoid intrusive and unhelpful thoughts and focus more on the task at hand.  It also improves the ability to focus for longer by keeping the brain simulated and engaged.

HEALTH IS A CHOICE-LEARN HOW TO USE IT!

Shirley Noah

Watch for my new book-Understanding the Stress Connection: Break the Power of Chronic Stress with Healthy Eating and Healthy Habits

Is Your Body Toxic Due to Stress?

Detoxification and Stress
Detoxification and Stress

Stress and Detoxification

Are you toxic because of stress?  It seems like everyone has stress today.  But did you know that it affects every cell and tissue in our bodies?  It robs you of important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, breaks down your major organs and lowers your immune system.  Over time, unrelieved stress causes severe acid build-up that hinders your digestion of nutrients.  It interferes with your body’s cleansing processes and contributes to toxic buildup.

Reducing stress is critical to your health.  You can eat a perfect diet, cleanse your body inside and out, and exercise regularly, but if you are in constant state of stress, your physical problems won’t go away.

Is Your Body Toxic Due to Your Thoughts and Feelings?

Positive thought and emotions contribute to good health.  Negative thoughts and feelings are damaging.  They literally “eat at you”.  Positive, optimistic thoughts are more nurturing while boosting your digestion.

The Institute of HeartMath (IHM), a nonprofit organization specializing in stress reduction has done studies on the relationship between feelings, emotional balance, cardiovascular function and hormone and immune system health.

Results of mind and emotions

Our mental and emotional attitude triggers responses for every situation.  The response causes electrical changes in the heart, nervous system and brain. This affects your state of health and well-being.  Our perception and emotional reactions are transmitted between the heart and brain through the nervous systems and can be seen in the pattern of our heart rhythms.

But there is More…….

When your body is under stress, your nervous system increases sympathetic activity, creating reactions like nervous restlessness, hyperactivity, anxiety, muscle tension, heart arrhythmia’s and stomach issues.  If stress is prolonged, your adrenal and pituitary glands produce stress-fighting hormones for emergency relief.  This process can create chemical waste, which degenerates nerve damage and causes free radical damage in the body.  Your body will use up vital nutrients to neutralize and expel cellular toxins, as well as defend against internal threats or stressors.  Unfortunately, over time, the function of our detoxification and stress response mechanisms decline or become dysregulated due to internal and external influences.

Solutions

There are many mechanisms in the body that influence detoxification and stress.  Just as a garden hose is under constant pressure, our blood vessels being constricted will increase blood pressure.  Too much constriction can have negative health consequences.  The good news is that even when we are exposed to stressors and they can’t be eliminated, there are powerful lifestyle changes that can help to improve this.  One such technique is:

HartMath’s Freeze-Frame.  It is a simple, powerful technique for mental and emotional poise.  It focuses on pausing the take a deeper look before making a decision, giving you a better chance to act from a point of balance.   Feelings of fear and anger results in erratic heart beat rhythms.  Focusing on something pleasant results in a smoother even pattern.

This technique documents the effects of stress-busting exercises.  The study tracks levels of the hormones DHEA in people practicing this technique.  Low DHEA levels are linked to fatigue, exhaustion, muscle weakness, immune disorders, PMS, obesity, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.  Some patients tripled their DHEA levels even though no other lifestyle changes were made.

Today, HeartMath techniques are used successfully in hospitals, schools, and are being formally applied in corporations to increase productivity and reduce stress.  Check out their website at www.hearthmath.org.

HEALTH IS A CHOICE-LEARN HOW TO USE IT!

Shirley Noah

Watch for my new book-Understanding the Stress Connection: Break the Power of Chronic Stress with Healthy Eating and Healthy Habits

 

Stress Is not All Just In Your Head

Stress Is Not All Just In Your Head

Everyone experiences  the effects of stress at some time.  Anxiety over a relationship….financial…frustration at work…the list is endless.  But, wherever it is coming from it is not “all in your head!

Do you wake up with the worst “what if’s”?  Worry about it all day, weeks?  Soon it is anxiety.   If your problem is ongoing, it can become a new normal…extra stress hormones floating around, then inflammation.

Adrenalin can be helpful in danger situations, such as survival in the event of an attack.  But over time it is very damaging.

Effects of Chronic Stress

Effects of Stress
Effects of Stress

Chronic stress interferes with your immune system, causes inflammation and then leading to chronic diseases.  Before long you may trigger high blood pressure, asthma and keep getting everything that is going around.

Stress gains momentum, growing until suddenly it crashes.  This could be at the expense of your health. You have trouble sleeping and and on emotional level you feel like burn-out.

Psychological stress is misleading, because no stress is only psychological…it’s not just all in your head.

When stress is chronic, your immune system becomes desensitized to cortisol, and inflammation is partly regulated by this hormone,  this decreased sensitivity raises the inflammatory response and allows inflammation to get out of control.  Chronic inflammation is the root of heart disease and many chronic diseases.

Prolonged stress can damage you brain cells and make you unable to remember simple things.  It can trigger a degenerative process in your brain that can result in Alzheimer’s disease.   Stress can induce weight gain and belly fat, which increases your cardiovascular risk.

Digestive problems can be increased because  of disrupted gut microbes.  Causing decreased nutrient absorption, and four times less blood flow to your digestive system, which leads to decreased metabolism.

Stress is also implicated in cancer,  not so much as a cause of cancer but it seems to fuel it’s growth.  In the case of excess cortisol, some cell receptors become muted, including receptors on immune cells.  This is one reason why people under stress are about twice as likely to develop a cold after exposure to a cold virus.

Positive Emotions

On the brighter side, positive emotions like happiness, hope, and optimism also signal changes in your body’s cells, even producing the release of feel-good brain chemicals.  You can artificially produce happiness by taking drugs or drinking alcohol, but the same dopamine and endorphin high can be achieved by healthy habits like exercise, laughter, hugging or bonding.  A 10 second hug can lead to a biochemical reaction in your body that can improve your health.

Regular stress management is important for everyone.  This might be turning off the daily news, restraining from social media, or staying away from negative people.  There are also stress management tools such as having a good cry, meditation, or practicing Heart Map. Also helpful is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique by a simple tapping with the fingertips to specific points on your head and chest while you think about a specific problem. This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the emotional block from your body’s bio-energy system.  This helps to balance your mind and body, which is essential for optimal health of chronic stress.

I’m Shirley Noah, I teach the 9 pillars for health.  A step-by-step approach to good health.  Let’s connect to see how I may best serve you in the near future.