Have you ever felt the need to de-stress? If you are human, the answer is likely yes. Stress diminishes our quality of life and it’s effects over time make it a real killer. Effective neutralization of stress is a fundamental need we all have, and there are many different ways to accomplish this.
Stress is a response of the body to a change in the world, but more often we understand stress as a feeling of tension or dis-ease in our world. Stress creeps up on us – check your shoulders right now – are you carrying any tension? Are your facial muscles tighter than they need to be or is your gaze and expression soft and relaxed? Your body is talking to you.
One of the most remarkable tricks that I can teach a patient to wipe out stress in the moment is the trick of paced breathing. This is a simple technique where one slowly breathes in for five seconds and out for five seconds, and repeats while focusing on thoughts of gratitude. It is remarkable to see how the shoulders relax, the facial muscles soften, and a person’s tension can be immediately improved.
Go ahead. Do it now. Deep breath out… then in for 5 seconds… out for 5 seconds… in for 5… out for 5… as you continue allow your shoulders to drop, your facial muscles to soften, your mind to recount all the things for which you have gratitude, and continue… In 5 seconds… out 5 seconds. Feels good, Right?!?! Keep going as you continue reading.
I call this yoga ‘light’. It is a simple exercise that is remarkably powerful and can be exercised anywhere at any time. Give yourself the gift of this mindful breathing at least 3 times a day.
I also strongly recommend meditation. This may be foreign to some individuals, and to a vastly larger number of individuals it has been something that has not been able to be accomplished. I was one of those people who just could not get into meditating. I loved doing yoga but sitting still and focusing on my breath in a way that I could deepen my practice and decrease my stress was never something I was able to do without technology.
I used our neurofeedback tools that we have in our clinic to successfully guide me to deeper states of relaxation, but I also needed access to these states when at home and traveling. A new tool has surfaced that is remarkably effective at helping meditation to be effective and enjoyable. It is called the Muse headband. It works with your smartphone. It is an easy to wear and comfortable headband that connects via Bluetooth to your smartphone. Your smartphone then drives the audio component of the experience.
This is neurofeedback light. The headset will watch your brainwaves and give you the reward of a pleasant sound when you move into a state of deeper meditative practice. This is really a quite remarkable, inexpensive, and accessible way to very quickly deepen your meditation practice and escape the damage of rampant stress.
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