Family challenges have me busy physically & mentally this month, so I hope you’ll enjoy this repost from April of 2021. You won’t be able to comment below – let’s be sure to catch up next month.
The human body is a marvel. Its ultra-intelligent design allows it to function in large part without your attention. The billions and billions of chemical reactions occurring each second are nothing short of symphonic. The habits that become your lifestyle radically influence that symphony, for better or worse. By providing your cells with the support they need to function at their highest levels, you make it possible to prevent or reverse disease, increase energy, and lengthen your time on the planet.
In his book The Healer Within, Roger Jahnke, Doctor of Classical Chinese Medicine, explains, “Dozens of spontaneous self-healing mechanisms are programmed to sustain or restore our health and vitality automatically.” And further, “The foundation of all self-healing, health enhancement, stress mastery, and personal empowerment is deep relaxation.” Below, you will find some of the best techniques I know to help you develop that foundational sweet spot.
- Yoga – It took me many years to understand the statements get out of your head and drop into your body, bits of advice often dispensed by well-meaning yoga teachers. But finally, it hit me: by placing attention on my breath and body alignment during poses, I put aside the process of jumping from one distracting thought to another for the duration of the class. Dropping into my body calms my mind, and this calm stays with me. According to an article in Psychology Today, regular yoga results in the central nervous system’s release of GABA, a chemical which works to suppress anxiety for hours after the practice ends.
- Massage – According to an article from Mayo Clinic, massage is good not only for stress release, sore muscles, and circulation, but also insomnia, nerve pain, fibromyalgia and digestive disorders. I have been a huge fan of massage as long as I can remember, primarily because it feels so good on tight fascia and sore muscles. My twice-monthly massages are a prerequisite to my ability to continue being active. No massage therapist? No problem. Even self-massage can yield benefits.
- Meditation – This practice dates back for thousands of years, and I believe the reason it’s still around is because it is so advantageous. U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine published an article stating that in addition to meditation boosting emotions, decreasing anxiety, and helping with depression, it also improves heart function, slows age-related cognitive decline, and strengthens the immune system. What’s more, I’ve read from other sources that it increases creativity. Years ago, when living and working at a Buddhist Retreat Center in Northern California, I began my first regular meditation practice. I have recently renewed that commitment.
- Music – Research shows that Celtic music, jazz, classical, and Native American music are great for reducing stress, says an article on Chopra.com. In addition, playing an instrument or singing causes endorphins (happy chemicals) to be released in the body. The article goes on to say this is especially beneficial for children and cancer patients. Personally, I can’t imagine getting through a single day without listening to music, humming, and singing. Can you?
- Nature – I’ll bet you knew this was coming, didn’t you?! As I wrote this post, I was sitting outside in the warm Arizona sunshine listening to birdsong and wind blowing through the trees. According to the article Why Nature Sounds Help You Relax, According to Science on Health.com, sounds such as rustling leaves and a babbling brook can help reduce stressful fight or flight feelings and increase the body’s capacity for relaxation.
As you can see, these techniques not only help you achieve the foundation of relaxation needed by your body for optimal function; they have beneficial side effects as well. Combining one or more of them with other healthy habits can be the key to unlocking your best possible life. What could be better?
Blessings for Healthy Foundations,
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.