Monday, August 29, 2011

Nothing Will Disturb You

Meditation: Nothing Will Disturb You and Nothing Will Bother You

While comfortably supported, take a deep breath. As you breathe out, notice the feeling of relaxation that exhaling brings. Mentally move this feeling of relaxation into your shoulders and upper arms, then through your elbows, forearms, wrists and hands. Next move the feeling of relaxation into your chest, stomach, hips and upper legs – through your knees, into your lower legs, ankles and feet.

Move the feeling of relaxation from your neck to your head….until it fills your head with a very comfortable, relaxed feeling.

As you exhale, relax twice as deeply as you are now. Each exhalation will relax you more. Continue to become more deeply relaxed and comfortable each time you breathe out.

As you continue to relax, you will feel physically stronger and more fit in every way – so that nothing will disturb you and nothing will bother you. You will feel mentally stronger and your nerves will become steadier, your mind will become calmer and clearer, more composed and tranquil.

Breathe out. Nothing will disturb you and nothing will bother you.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Makes Your Heart Beat Faster?

You may not realize how much your heart rate varies throughout the day or that it changes with your emotional state.

By becoming aware of the variability in your heart-rate, you can learn to take control and quiet your emotions. This is called reaching a state of coherence. Practicing a simple relaxation technique will help reduce stress, balance emotions, and increase performance. Used just a few minutes a day, you can learn to transform feelings of anger, anxiety or frustration into peace and clarity, and learn to take charge of your emotional reactions. Your health, communication, relationships and quality of life will improve.

Begin by imagining you are breathing in and out through your heart. Imagine the breath coming into your heart with the inhalation, and out through your heart with the exhalation.

Do this for a few minutes.

Then imagine something or someone whom you really appreciate. This may be different than going to a relaxing place – it could be an activity such as reading to a child, walking your dog, a physical activity, or sitting with someone you love. I imagine myself reading to my son when he was a child and I immediately move to a place of coherence. Imagine this for a few minutes.

Then, go back to breathing in and out through your heart for a few more minutes. Get up, stretch and know you’ve done something good for your whole self.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Hands on Exercise

When diagnosed with serious or chronic illness, people often feel a loss of control and that their bodies have failed them. Biofeedback training can help people learn self-regulation strategies to help them cope more effectively.

A common type of biofeedback is thermal or hand-warming biofeedback.  Thermal biofeedback training has proven very useful for those who suffer from migraine headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, pain, stress, asthma and other lung disorders, digestive disorders, treatment side-effects and many other conditions.

The main goal of thermal biofeedback is to assist in measuring your level of stress through skin temperature. The higher the stress level, the lower your hand or foot temperature (75° F is cold, 70° F or below is very cold). The lower the stress level, the higher your hand or foot temperature will be (90° F with a training goal of 95-96° F).

We often use thermal biofeedback in conjunction with different relaxation training exercises to teach someone how to reverse the fight/flight response and quiet their body and mind. This results in warm hands (which means you are calm), the ability to think more clearly and handle daily stresses more easily.

Although biofeedback training is very helpful in giving you the verification that you are reaching your goal, you don’t really need it to learn to self-calm and warm your hands. You can simply pay attention to how cold your hands are. One way to do this is to put your hands against your cheeks and see if they feel cold. If they do, your hand temp is likely in the 70’s. If they are warm to the touch, they are in the upper 80’s or 90’s. If your hands are cold, practice some kind of relaxation technique.

I have explained a number of different techniques in past blogs but one fool proof exercise is deep breathing.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Be Fearless

Franklin Roosevelt said in his inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” What if we could banish our fear?

With meditation fearlessness is possible. Fearlessness is a sense of deep confidence and the feeling of “nothing to gain, nothing to lose”. Meditation can bring to mind a fearless certainty, a deep confidence that nothing can unsettle—decisive and firm, without hesitating, where you’re open to anything. You can enter into a state where you feel, no matter what happens, you have nothing to gain, and nothing to lose – a feeling of freedom from burden.

I’ve written before about visualization. You can use that technique to achieve fearlessness.

Sit in a comfortable position for meditation, close your eyes and breathe naturally through your nose. Then, identify what it is you are currently afraid of. Visualize your fears along with their actual causes in the form of dense thick smoke, and breathe it out. When the smoke leaves your nostrils, it disappears into the furthest reaches of space, where it completely disappears, never to return.

When you inhale, imagine breathing in pure, inspiring energy and fearlessness in the form of white light. Let the light fill your body and mind.

Or, if you’d like, you can focus on the word “fearlessness,” and repeat, “nothing to gain, nothing to lose,” while imagining the feeling of deep confidence.

With practice, this meditation will help you feel lighter, clearer, more peaceful and balanced. You will feel fearlessness.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Abdominal Breathing

We breathe without giving it any thought. Inhale. Exhale.

What if I told you the way you breathe can affect your stress level? Would you think about it then?

Turns out abdominal breathing sends more oxygen into your blood stream. This is a good thing. The oxygen improves the lactate levels in your blood and lowers the lactic acid in your body. Lactic acid contributes to anxiety.

Try to practice abdominal breathing at least twice a day - or, whenever you find your mind dwelling on upsetting thoughts or when you experience pain.

To begin:

·         Place one hand your abdomen. When you take a deep breath in, the hand on your abdomen should rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. You want to fill your entire lung with air.
·         After exhaling through the mouth, take a slow deep breath in through your nose and hold it.
·         Slowly exhale through your mouth. As all the air is released with relaxation, gently contract your abdominal muscles to completely evacuate the remaining air from the lungs. Remember, respiration deepens not by inhaling more air but through completely exhaling it.
·         Repeat the cycle four more times for a total of 5 deep breaths and try to breathe at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds (or 6 breaths per minute).
Once you feel comfortable practicing the technique, you may incorporate words to enhance the exercise. For example, you might say to yourself the word, relaxation (with inhalation) and stress or anger (with exhalation). The idea being to bring in the feeling/emotion you want with inhalation and release those you don't want with exhalation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hypnosis - Be Glad You're Not a Chicken

If the word ‘hypnosis’ conjures up images of a tourist clucking like a chicken on a Vegas stage, it’s time to reassess.

The truth of the matter is that your unconscious mind won’t consent to behavior that is unacceptable to your conscious mind - sort of makes you wonder about those clucking tourists.

A second truth – you can be your own hypnotist. So, unless you tell yourself to cluck (and you harbor a secret but conscious desire to make a fool of yourself), your safe from chickenhood. Instead, you can use self-hypnosis to relax or help achieve your personal goals.

The procedure of self-hypnosis usually begins with an induction suggesting heaviness of the eyes, deeper and deeper relaxation and a countdown from ten to zero or one hundred to zero. Stay flexible. This is about YOU. Adding your own innovations or developing your own format is fine.

Look upward. When you do so, the natural tendency is for your eyes to close. If they don’t – assume some resistance to the exercise is taking place. Explore the reasons why. After a few minutes, if your eyes aren’t heavy enough to close naturally, close them.

After you become as relaxed as you want to be, make suggestions to yourself related to your needs and goals. Visualize yourself in the act of accomplishing these goals. A golfer might visualize his perfect swing and his ball landing on the fairway. A test-taker with high anxiety might visualize herself calmly and successfully completing her exam. A smoker might see himself taking a walk after a meal instead of lighting a cigarette. Picture the details, engage the senses – the smell of fresh grass, the sound of a pencil writing on paper or the feeling of clean air filling your lungs.

Before you bring the exercise to a close, remember to suggest that each time you do the exercise you will become more deeply relaxed. Select a few keywords – “more and more relaxed” or “heavier and heavier”.

Finally, tell yourself to return to an alert state of consciousness, refreshed and fully energized. Count upward from one to three and be glad you’re not a chicken!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Types of Meditation

Do you think of meditation as a single, vaguely defined Zen-like mental exercise?
That’s like thinking baseball, football and golf are the same because they’re sports.
The truth is there are dozens upon dozens of varieties of mental training. Too often they are lumped together under the term meditation. However, each practice comes with its own instructions and specific effects on experience and brain activity.
Consider one-pointedness—a fully focused concentration on a single object of attention. It may be the most basic and universal of all practices. It is found in one form or another in every spiritual tradition that employs meditation.
Practitioners focus on one point and release the ten thousand other thoughts and desires that flit through their minds as distractions.
By contrast, visualization entails constructing in the mind’s eye a detailed image. In the Buddhist tradition, a meditator might imagine a deity, starting with the details and building the whole picture from top to bottom. If you’re rusty on Buddhist gods, you can visualize a pattern or mandala or even build peaceful refuge in your mind.
Researchers have found a clear difference in cognitive activity between the two. It’s not a bad idea to practice both and fire different parts of your brain.