Better Breathing = Banishing Stress - By: www.Pier55.com
One form of natural stress relief is meditation techniques, which often involves the use of specific breathing techniques. This stress relief technique helps calm the mind and create an overall sense of peace and relaxation.

There are many forms of meditation and many are linked to certain religions or spiritual beliefs. Hinduism has many schools of meditation, including yoga. Buddhists use meditation to reach a state of enlightenment and many Jewish prayers are meditative in nature. Even many Christian religions utilize forms of meditation, such as the use of rosary beads n Catholicism.

Meditation does not, however, have to be about a spiritual or religious journey. Rather, it is a natural treatment for stress and anxiety that is accomplished by getting the mind, body, and spirit in balance.

To accomplish this, a person using meditation as a form of natural stress relief must find a quiet place. There are no strict rules regarding body positioning when meditating, but most people who use meditation as a form of natural stress relief prefer to do so in the lotus position. The lotus position involves sitting with the legs crossed while keeping the back straight and the shoulders level. Yet other practitioners prefer to sit comfortably, but with the legs uncrossed.

No matter the general position chosen when using meditation for natural stress relief, it is best to keep the spine straight throughout the meditation process. This position encourages circulation and makes it easier to breathe in the deep, slow fashion that is often necessary for meditation.

After finding a quiet place to perform meditation, and after assuming a position that is comfortable, it is time to begin this process of natural stress relief. Some people prefer to remain quiet while meditating. Still others close their eyes and hum or make other repetitive noises to help clear their minds and to block out thoughts and outside noises.

Many prefer to utilize specific breathing techniques and specific thoughts in order to reach a meditative and relaxed state. One popular method is to focus on each individual part of the body. Give your self permission to relax until your entire body is relaxed. At the same time, this method calls for taking a few deep breaths. These are called cleansing breaths because they help clear the mind and bring a little extra oxygen into the blood. After the cleansing breaths, subsequent breaths should be inhaled to the count of four, and then exhaled to the count of eight. These counts help focus the breathing and clear the mind of other thoughts.

Unlike medication, there is no limit to the number of times meditation can be used. This natural stress relief technique can be used as often as necessary and for as long as needed because it does not have the negative side effects of medication. In fact, it is possible to gain relief from stress and anxiety with just a one-minute session of meditation, though 20-30 minutes of meditation is most common.

Many studies have been performed on the use of meditation as a form of natural stress relief. These studies have shown that meditation does, indeed, lower the biochemical byproducts of stress. Meditation has also been proven to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, as well as increase favorable brain waves. This is unlike many stress-relieving medications, which may temporarily reduce feelings of stress, but can cause long-term harm to the body.

In fact, meditation is used often in hospitals with patients suffering from chronic or terminal illness to reduce stress. This is especially important because stress has been shown to contribute to poor health. A 1999 report by neurophysiologist Dr. James Austin from the University of Colorado stated that meditation actually reprograms brain circuitry. His findings were later confirmed using imaging techniques that view electrical activity in the brain.

Further studies at the Mind-Body Medical Institute, which is affiliated with Harvard and several other Boston hospitals, has found that meditation causes several biochemical and physical changes associated with relaxation, including changes in heart rate, metabolism, blood pressure, respiration, and brain chemistry.

With all of the positive research surrounding meditation and relaxation breathing techniques, it is easy to see why thousands of people use the techniques every day to relieve stress and improve living.
 

STRESS REDUCTION THROUGH RELAXATION

Abdominal breathing exercises, Yoga, meditation, T'ai Chi, biofeedback and other disciplines can direct the body toward relaxation. When you relax consistently, over time the body develops a baseline level of operation that provides a "buffer" against the effects of stress. In other words, because you take your body to a relaxed state often, the cumulative effects provide you with protection from the daily effects of stress.

This relaxation practice is different from the physical exercise you do to stay in shape. To obtain the most benefits from relaxation means you must be present attuned to how your body feels. This is just the opposite of going to the gym and reading a book or listening to music while on the StairMaster, treadmill or stationary bicycle. In this 'mindless' exercise example, your body is being worked, but your attention is elsewhere.

If you develop some skill in reducing the physical symptoms of stress and still have a nervous system which usually operates in the "red zone", you will need to investigate how your current coping strategies and your activities contribute to the level of tension or anxiety in your body. If you feel pushed, exhausted, too busy, irritable and at your wits end much of the time you are probably in the "red zone" a lot. And if there are ongoing, unresolved issues in your relationships at home and at work that you feel you are just "putting up" with but never seem to change, you are also flirting with the "red zone". You may need to make some changes that you have been unwilling to make or have been postponing because they may upset other people or even yourself.

You can view the sympathetic (heightened) nervous system activity as an accelerator pedal and the parasympathetic (relaxation) nervous system activity as a brake pedal. In order to maintain health, you have to apply the brake pedal regularly in order to bring the "rpms" of your body's engines down to normal. This is what regular breathing/relaxation practice helps you do. By re-setting the nervous system back down to normal regularly, you stay out of the red zone.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN

Probably the hardest thing for human beings to do is change. This is especially true with conscious change, like taking up an exercise or diet program or making changes in how you do things or react to things.We like familiarity; it gives us a feeling of certainty. We have the same routines in the morning, relate to our spouse or boss in the same way. And, here is the kicker: we stay the same even in the face of our lives not working the way we would like them to. While useful are available, we say no because change is not comfortable. Where do you think those sayings came from like "Go for the burn", or "no pain, no gain? They all imply some degree of difficulty in order to achieve results. But the rewards are usually commensurate with the effort expended.

When people realize that stress is having a negative affect on their lives some people can accomplish reducing the effect of stress on their lives without support. If you are able to make the necessary changes and stick with them, great. If you need support, there is an abundance of help available. All that is required is a desire to begin. In the disciplines mentioned above some, like T'ai Chi and Yoga, are long term commitments and take time to see maximal results. Others, like biofeedback can quickly target the stress response for rapid stress relief. Several biofeedback units are now available for home use. The
Resperate is a device that helps manage stress and lower blood pressure through slow paced abdominal breathing. TheemWave PC , emWave Personal Stress Reliever and StressEraser teach relaxation skills by monitoring the heart rate. And the Healing Rhythms by Journey to Wild Divine is a hardware and software program that leads the user through a progressive course in accessing the stress response. No matter whether or not a person is interested in a rapid solution or a longer term solution there are many options available.


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