Stress Reduction Techniques
If you asked me 15 years ago if this was important, I would have had a different answer. With that said, stress reduction is more important today for some people to start with than exercise. In 2016, more people spend their day in perpetual motion burning through their stress and sex hormones only to find themselves on long term disability or with a serious illness. I see it every day in my practice and it is a major catalyst for writing this book. One of the more practical ways to heal the body is through stress reduction techniques. This includes meditation, yoga, prayer, spiritual guidance, quiet time and the like. It is a time where you start to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and regenerate the body. It is also an important time to connect with your soul and listen to your real purpose and calling in life. As I have said many times, my quiet time is in the evening when the kids are asleep and I run a nice warm bath with Epsom salts. The magnesium calms me and I put on some theta state music to slow my brain waves down so I can listen to the quiet voice that directs my life. It is very important for everyone to do this and especially relevant for people with children, careers, etc.
What exactly is meditation and how can it help you? In simplistic terms, meditation is a way of transforming the mind. To me, meditation is a way of connecting your mind to your soul and being one with your entire body. You can do this through quiet time, breathing techniques, listening to music and deep concentration. This is a time when you let your mind go and bring into your world what you desire and aspire to be. Focus on positivity, bliss, peace, harmony, congruency, calm, love and any other form of awakening that will progress you forward in this material world. You are a spiritual being having a material existence. By being still and silent, you start to understand what your mind and soul require. You start to manifest what is truly important in life and what will bring you closer to peace. Meditation has been around for thousands of years and dates back to ancient times. Many people associate meditation with the Buddha and they are one of the biggest proponents of meditation. Buddhists have been practicing as early back as 500 Before Christ (BC) and we can all learn from their techniques and wisdom.
Prayer is another fundamental technique you should use when practicing stress reduction. It is much more involved and deeper than meditation and it is direct relationship with God. There are many religions around the world and they all have their own form of prayer. It is done with sincerity, openness and humility. You are professing your dependence on God and exercising your faith and hope in Him. As a family, we reserve our prayer time for Sunday mornings and each night before our family goes to bed. We talk with God and show love and praise for that day and forthcoming events. We thank Him for what we have in our life and ask Him to bless the people around us with His glory. Personally, it is a very quiet connection like no other. Your Saviour is literally the only one who can change your life in an instant. I was born and raised in a Catholic Church and we practice our values each and every day. Not every day will be perfect but we were all born imperfect but with the potential to improve every day.
Most of my patients and clients already engage in some form of yoga as they realize the benefits that are derived from mindful movements and calculated physical presence. It is about being still and knowing and trusting your body. ” Yoga is a simple process of reversing the ordinary outward flow of energy and consciousness so that the mind becomes a dynamic center of direct perception no longer dependent upon the fallible senses but capable of actually experiencing Truth.” 23 As I have discussed, many people look outward for approval and affirmation rather than looking from within to develop that inner guidance. Yoga is all about harmonizing the body by concentrating on mind and breathing techniques. When you let go and let God in, your body and physiology become loose and open for growth. I have seen yoga help spinal problems, digestive issues, liver function, degenerative disease and so many other serious health issues. I cannot express enough how valuable it is.
We could literally write an entire book on stress reduction techniques because they are critical to your longevity and overall health. Most people are so focused on getting ahead in their career and financial aspirations that they neglect the inner peace that is vital to everything. The research and literature also validate the anecdotal evidence. “A recent Norwegian study found that yoga practice results in changes in gene expression that boost immunity at a cellular level. And it doesn’t take long: The researchers believe the changes occurred while participants were still on the mat, and they were significantly greater than a control group who went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music.” 24 Blood flow is one of the many benefits stress reduction improves. If there is one thing you can take away from this chapter, it is to slow down and take some time for yourself. I have seen dozens of patients who get poor medical reports due to their hectic and busy lifestyle. Unfortunately, it is only at that point that they see the benefit of practicing mindfulness and spirituality.