The ultra-hectic pace and pressures of modern everyday life can make you feel tired, weak, and overwhelmed. Chronic physical, mental, and emotional stress can lead to everything from depression to excess inflammation.
Ongoing stress stimulates cortisol production (the stress hormone) and sends a message to your entire body that you need to prepare for a fight. Too much cortisol suppresses your immune function and causes atrophy of muscle and bone.
Learning a few mind/body techniques can change the way you think about the stress in your daily life and improve how you feel from the inside out.
- A focused mind, free of brain fog
- A sense of peace and overall well-being
- Greater confidence in yourself and your goals
- Improved energy levels
- The ability to cope more calmly with stressors
- Deeper, quality sleep
Yes, you can think your way to better health.
The right mind/body techniques offer positive self-reinforcement and empowerment. They open a promising new direction to help you find the inherent wisdom and sanity we all have – you just need to know how to access it.The right mind/body techniques offer positive self-reinforcement and empowerment.Click To Tweet
Mindfulness can guide you through almost any challenge life throws at you. Tap into your innate awareness and sensitivity and you’ll find most of your stress (even horrible moods) melt away, seem smaller, and take up less of your time and attention.
You can practice mind/body techniques alone or in a group. I always suggest starting the habit alone, finding what works for you, before joining a group or including family and friends.
It changes your health and your state of mind.
The word mindfulness is the English translation of the Pali word Sati, which means to be conscious, aware, or observant. It’s a state where you are psychologically present and engaged in the world around you, without reacting in any way.
The practice enables you to respond consciously and reflectively, rather than react instantly (and possibly poorly) to internal or external events or circumstances.
Mind Body Techniques for the Busy Life
To keep the outside world from invading your head space, you need to find the mindfulness style that works for you.
Don’t get too caught up in the details! No matter what skills you use to achieve mindfulness, it should fit your daily routine, personal space, and make you feel incredible.
As I explain to friends and family, mind/body techniques are…
- Absolutely free (unless you join a class)
- Take ten minutes or less
- Require no “props” or equipment
Sit or stand. Focus. Breathe. That’s easy, right?
Interesting Fact: Riding the Alpha Wave
All your thoughts – negative or positive, calm or stressed – are communicated within your brain through a series of electrical impulses. They travel through an incredible network of neurons and synapses and can be measured by an electroencephalograph (EEG).
You see the result on a monitor as brain wave patterns.
The speed of these brain waves are measured by their speed, or frequency, and expressed in hertz or cycles per second.
The frequency of your brain waves determines your state of mind and how you react to the situation around you. It can mean the difference between feeling stressed and alone or calm and centered.
- During day-to-day activities, your brain waves are in the beta range (14 to 32 Hz). The higher on this scale you go, the more stressed you become. You start to feel pain and anxiety as your physical responses shift into overdrive.
- When you’re relaxed and focused (but awake), you move into the alpha range (7 to 14 Hz).
- As you fall asleep, your brain waves slow down and enter the theta range (3.5 to 7 Hz). When you’re awake, theta ranges are places of deep meditation and spiritual insight.
- Slowing down even further takes you into the deepest, delta range (0.1 to 3.5 Hz). Most people cannot stay awake during this state. It’s usually associated with dreamless sleep.
Meditation helps you alter the frequency of your brain waves and move them into the calmer, lower ranges of speed so you can stay calm, happy, and healthy.Meditation helps you alter the frequency of your brain waves so you can stay calm, happy, and healthy.Click To Tweet
Ancient Civilizations Understood
Before you shake your head and say meditation is only for hipsters and vegetarians, you should know that breathing techniques have been used for thousands of years, beginning with those who practiced Ayurveda (the oldest system of healing in the world).
In fact, all ancient systems of healing use the practice of breathing (what we now refer to as mind/body techniques) for healing.
Western medicine has a long way to go before they fully understand (or accept) what ancient practices such as meditation do to protect your mind and body. However, every year, they slip a little closer to embracing natural modalities that have worked for millennia.
There’s much left to learn but meditation, yoga, and acupuncture are increasingly used to aid in easing the suffering caused by major diseases and conditions such as cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, and severe depression.
There’s a great deal we do know…
- During meditation, your oxygen consumption drops by 10 to 20 percent. This drop gives the entire physical body a rest. This contributes to the increased physical energy you feel after meditating.
- Meditation also causes a drop in blood lactate. Lactate is a toxic substance that builds up in your muscles. Its accumulation causes pain and fatigue.
- Other physiological responses include a decrease in heart and respiration rates.
- Meditation increases melatonin and decreases cortisol. Melatonin is the hormone that helps you sleep.
- One study found that participants who meditated over the course of the five-year period were measured as physiologically 12 years younger than their chronological age.
The reason for this is due to elevated telomerase levels. This is an enzyme that helps rebuild your telomeres – the tiny caps at the ends of your DNA that control your biological clock and tell every cell in your body how old to act. Keep your telomeres longer and your body stays biologically much younger than your actual years.All ancient systems of healing use the practice of breathing for healing.Click To Tweet
Breathe…Grow Younger and Healthier
The word Vipassana in the Pali language means to see or observe in a special way and comes from two words: Vi (which means special) and passana (which means to see or observe). It’s simple, fast, and incredibly effective as a mind/body technique in your busy daily life.
- Sit comfortably (anywhere you like).
- Rest the fingers of your left hand on top of the fingers of your right hand and bring your thumbs together. This is one of the classic mudras or hand positions for meditation.
- Sit with your spine upright and slightly tuck in your chin.
- Think about a specific place on your head and concentrate on it.
- Then simply breathe. Count each inhalation and exhalation and be acutely aware of the action of breathing. Inhale to a count of one, but exhale for a count of two.
- Remain still, breathing, and focused for 10 minutes.
You might find your mind wandering. It’s perfectly normal. Simply re-focus on your breathing each time it happens. Your mind will race and thoughts and feelings will flood your mind.
Don’t hold on to them. Just let them go.
The more you practice this mind/body technique, the better you’re going to get at controlling your thoughts when you aren’t meditating.
Over time, you’ll begin to notice you have less stress, more focus, and a younger, healthier, and stronger body.
Releasing yourself from chronic stress begins with the first breath.