Chronic stress is hazardous to your health. Life (the primary source of stress) can be hard, but the cumulative effect of it on our health can make it even harder. Stress wears down the body and brains functional centers that we would otherwise use to cope with challenging events. Yet we all have access to simple techniques that are antidotes to the harm of chronic stress. These tools require no equipment, no gym membership or fancy trainers. Using a combination of breath and awareness at a minimum, we can recover our emotional and physical balance on a moment by moment basis. Our well being is at within our reach and the tools to access it are hidden in plain sight. Just breathe.
So for those of you who have heard me talk about this at length, here’s the same information, delivered in a very helpful and easily digestible way. But beware – if you are or have been under intense pressure and you are struggling, be sure to watch all the way to the end. That is when you learn that its not all bad news and what one can do to overcome the harmful effects of chronic stress.
In good health.
Dr. Rick Hanson’s “Just One Thing” newsletter has a fabulous commentary this week on the notion of grasping. In Yoga Philosophy, we learn that grasping for something (pleasure, material things, relationships) contributes to suffering. By bringing awareness to your heartfelt desires – comfort, connection, deeper meaning – and observing them without bonding yourself to them allows for greater emotional freedom. But in truth, Rick says it best, so read for yourself. Click the link below for more.
Cling less, love more – Just One Thing.
After you’ve had the wisdom and clarity to take a few breaths with some attention to the process and to your body, you should be feeling a little more grounded and ‘in the moment’. If not, try to remain relaxed and trust that you are o.k. As I tell me clients, no one has spontaneously combusted or evaporated from a rapid breath or feelings of agitation. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But it is not fatal. So stay with the process until you feel your body and mind following your lead and coming into the present…continue to follow your breath.
Now you notice that your body is settling down and feeling more at ease. Once there, begin Continue reading
By now, you’ve probably heard the command ‘just breathe’ at least a dozen times in your recent life. It has become ubiquitous, carved on stones, painted over doorways, screened onto t-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers. So after seeing the word ‘breathe’ posted in so many places, are you starting to wonder if these hippy-yogi-bohemians might just have a point? Answer: they do.
Medical research institutions have conducted innumerable studies on stress management and associated health factors to deconstruct the path to achieving health and well being or to solve problems of chronic illness and stress. Leave it to human kind to complicate life so much that we distract ourselves with our own intellect, thereby disregarding a simple and exquisite wisdom that has been with us since the beginning of life – that if all else fails, in a moment of crisis, all we need to do is pay attention to the breath and our situation will immediately begin to improve. If you have ever tried it, you most likely know it to be true as well.
So why is this? Well the reason is that our breath and our central nervous system are deeply intertwined. The fact is that you don’t need to do anything in order to breath. Your body does it for you, whether you like it or not. However, when you focus on and pay attention to your breath, the quality and depth of your breath immediately improves. This quickly settles your nervous system, kicking your parasympathetic nervous system into gear (low that is). And when the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is active, you have ready access to your rest and relaxation state. The more settled and relaxed you are, the lower the stress hormones and the higher the quality of your state of being. And since we are, after all, human beings, the more our body is in being mode and not stressed out doing mode, the better.
The answer was inside us all along.