Body and Mind Against Daily Stress
The power of relaxation was first
brought to the forefront of medicine in 1974 by Herbert
Benson, M.D. It was at that time that Dr. Benson and his
colleagues announced their discovery that conscious relaxation
causes several healthy changes in the body. In the book,
"The American Holistic Health Association Complete Guide
To Alternative Medicine," by William Coolinge, M.P.H.,
Ph.D., these healthy changes are noted. They include:
--Reduced blood pressure.
--Reduced respiratory rate.
--Reduced heart rate.
--Reduced oxygen consumption.
--Reduced blood flow to skeletal muscles.
--Reduced muscle tension.
Mentally and emotionally, you can also expect daily relaxation
practices to give you a greater sense of calm, optimism, inner
strength, and balance. Here are a couple time-tested,
proven meditative techniques that produce the kind of
relaxation that will contribute to your overall physical,
mental, emotional, even spiritual wellness.
Do your best to practice this technique everyday.
Experts say it's best to practice relaxation for at least
twenty minutes per day. At first, practicing the
following relaxation technique may seem awkward. In
time, and with practice, you'll feel more comfortable with the
practice and the results.
Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Make
sure you're sitting comfortably with your back straight or
lying comfortably with your arms along your sides. Close
your eyes and begin focusing on your body. Slowly
breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
When thoughts and images arise in your mind, acknowledge them,
then let them go away as you bring your focus back to your
breathing. Fully experience each exhale. Practice
this for about five minutes or so.
Shift your focus to your body. Start with your feet.
Tighten the muscles in your feet and toes, hold them tense for
a couple seconds, then release the tension and let your feet
relax. Next, focus on your calves. Tighten the
muscles in your calves, hold them tense for a couple seconds,
then release the tension and let your calves relax.
Repeat this through all of your major muscle groups as you
move your attention up your body. Tense your thighs,
hold, then relax. Move to your chest, hands, arms,
shoulders, and finally your face.
After you have relaxed all of your muscle groups, mentally
check over your body from head to toe and feel for any muscles
that are still tense. If you notice a part of you that
is not totally relaxed, tense it up a little, hold, then
relax. Sit, or lay, in silence with your eyes closed for
twenty minutes or for as long as is comfortable.
Touching Silence: A Meditation
Here is another way to reach a sense of deep relaxation.
This practice is perfect for the spring and summer seasons
because it can be practiced outdoors quite easily. This
is a meditation I first introduced in my newest book,
"The Secret Nature Within You". It's called
Touching Silence. A great time to practice this particular
meditation is in the hours just before sunrise - say 3:00 AM
to 6:00 AM. Find a comfortable, fairly private place
outside to sit. Your back porch, your yard, or even a
nearby park might do.
Sit with your eyes closed and begin listening to the breeze as
it flows through the trees. No need to tense up any
muscle groups. This exercise is one of simply listening
very deeply. Let yourself become aware of the sounds in
the wind. Let yourself become aware of the feeling of
moving air around your body. When thoughts or emotions
arise spontaneously in your awareness, acknowledge them for a
moment, then gently let them go. Get back to listening
to the breeze. As you feel yourself breathe in deeply,
realize the relationship between the breeze rushing around
your body and the breath rushing into your lungs. Enjoy
this meditation for twenty minutes or for as long as you feel