Posts tagged #relaxation kidderminster

Mindfulness techniques for you

I am passionate about mindfulness and see how it enhances both my own and my client's lives. It can however be difficult to begin incorporating mindfulness into our lives. It is often true that the busy doing aspect of life just gets in the way. In this blog I am sharing a couple of techniques that can help you to begin to use mindfulness daily, developing your "just being" mind, regardless of how busy you may be.

The first technique is known as the RAIN method.  This enables you to focus your attention on the moment in a structured way. As your mindfulness develops you will probably move away from the structre but it is helpful to start with.

RAIN 

R - Recognise

A - Allowing

I - Investigating

N - Natural awareness

RAIN technique, Mindfulness Meditation

RAIN technique, Mindfulness Meditation

R   -  RECOGNISE WHAT IS HAPPENING

You can awaken mindful awareness simply by asking yourself: “What is happening inside me right now?” Call on your natural curiosity as you focus inward. Try to let go of any preconceived ideas.

A - ALLOW LIFE TO BE JUST AS IT IS

Allowing means, “Letting be”, the thoughts, emotions, feelings, or sensations you discover. You may naturally feel a sense of aversion to any difficult feelings or sensations that arise.  Wanting unpleasant feelings to go away is a response which has become a habit for most of us.  However, with some practise, you will become more willing to be present with, 'What is', and a different quality of attention will emerge.

Allowing is intrinsic to healing, and realising this can give rise to a conscious intention to “let be.” 

I - INVESTIGATE INNER EXPERIENCE WITH KINDNESS

Investigation means calling on your natural interest.  Simply pausing to ask, “What is happening inside me?”, might initiate recognition, but with investigation, you engage in a more active, pointed, line of enquiry.   You might ask yourself:

“What most wants attention?” “How am I experiencing this in my body?” “What does this feeling want from me?”

We need to offer a gentle welcome to whatever surfaces. Avoid the natural habit of wanting to change thinks or find solutions, just be with the answers that arise. Investigating with open non-judgental curiosity.  

N - NATURAL AWARENESS

The first three steps of RAIN require some intentional activity. The ’N’ of RAIN, expresses the result; a liberating realisation of your Natural awareness. There’s nothing to do for this last part of RAIN.   Realisation arises spontaneously on its own.  We simply rest in Natural awareness. Not trying to get anywhere and not trying to change anything, just "being" with whatever you have discovered.

Sixty seconds meditation

Sixty seconds meditation

The second technique requires just sixty sessions.  It can be practised whenever you are in a situation which does not require your full attention ( so not when driving a car for example!!)  If you have a timer on your phone then set it for sixty seconds, close your eyes and focus solely on your breath. Bring your attention to the movement of the breath as it travels in from the mouth or nose all the way down to the chest. Then follow the exhale in the same way.  There is no need to breath in any special way.  When your attention wanders simply escort it back to the breath.

This may sound very easy, just 1 minute concentrating on one thing. Or you may be thinking that your mind is far too busy to focus on something you normally pay no attention to?  Whatever your initial thoughts try to enter the meditation with an open mind and see what you discover.  By meditating in this way you allow yourself to insert a pause into your day; a moment to just be with your breath and see what develops. Taking time to allow yourself to take a  break from your "doing" mind in this structured way will help you to develop a mindfulness approach to many aspects of your life.

I know it may see like a contradiction to learn techniques which allow you to develop mindfulness when the practise itself is about non-doing rather than doing techniques and exercises!   We do, however, need guidance to develop our own mindfulness and techniques can really help.  Most importantly remember to be kind to yourself and know that you do not need to strive to be good at any technique, just doing them is the key.

If you would like more information please take a look at mindfulness meditation

Posted on September 6, 2017 and filed under mindfulness, stress management.

How does relaxation change your body?

Relaxation explored.

Most people would agree it feels good to truly relax, we can feel there are positive changes as we sink into a calm state of relaxation.  I’m often talking about the benefits of relaxation with my clients in kidderminster, but what does relaxation actually mean for our bodies? 

According to the dictionary relaxation is defined as   "the state of being free from tension and anxiety". 

Relaxation in many ways counteracts the effects of stress on the body. Although the physiological and biochemical changes that happen during the acute stress response have been thoroughly studied, the contrasting changes of the relaxation response are less understood. The relaxed state in basic terms results in your heart and breathing rate slowing, your blood pressure goes down, your production of stress hormones decreases, and your muscles loosen and relax. The relaxation effect may also increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, a chemical in the body that positively affects emotions and thoughts.  Blood pressure reduction is among the changes most consistently observed during studies of the effects of relaxation on the body.  This alone can have a positive influence on many health conditions but is one reason why it is important to tell your therapist if you have clinically low blood pressure.

When relaxation occurs the nervous system is affected.  The sympathetic branch which is heightened by stress slows down and the parasympathetic branch takes over.  This part of the nervous system is concerned with restful activities: - the body and mind calm and the metabolic rate slows. When truly relaxed your body requires only  very low energy, similar to the low metabolic rate in deep sleep. In a sustained state of relaxation, oxygen requirement of our body tissues falls lower than during normal sleep. The blood lactate level falls significantly up to three times faster during therapeutic relaxation than a normal restful state. Lactate is the chemical that enters the blood through the metabolic activity of the muscles and is responsible for muscle fatigue.  It appears certain that while relaxing you are helping your body to recover from the negative effects of everyday stress.

The term, ‘Relaxation Response’ was first used by Dr. Herbert Benson, professor, author, cardiologist, and founder of Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute.  He studied the effects of this relaxation response on the body.   In his book The Relaxation Response, Dr. Benson describes the scientific benefits of relaxation; he explains that regular practice of relaxation can be an effective way of managing a wide range of stress-related disorders.  The changes can occur from the first time someone enjoys therapeutic relaxation. Research looking at subjects brain activity has shown the there are observable reductions in cortical arousal, meaning heart rate lowers breathing slows and muscle tone relaxes.

Regularly enjoying therapeutic relaxation can be effective in improving day to day wellbeing, and result in an increased control over the body's response to stress. A recent study (2013) also discovered that the relaxation response also affects the way our genes influence body systems including the immune function, metabolism and insulin control.  This requires further research but suggests that the relaxation response may have a positive effect beyond that of counteracting the stress response.

There are many ways to elicit the relaxation response. I advise clients to try different methods that can be included in their day to day lives. Reflexology and massage are great ways to feel the full body effects of relaxation but few people can include these treatments in daily life. There are a number of methods to encourage deep relaxation such as:

  • Breathing techniques can be easily learnt and included regularly in your life.
  • Yoga poses are renowned for relaxation benefits.
  • Art therapy such as colouring in or sewing can be beneficial  as you become absorbed in the activity and allow stresses to be forgotten.
  • Meditation can be hard to begin with but is an ideal way to promote the relaxation response.

The physiological changes caused by relaxation may not have been as fully explored as the negative effects of stress but it seems clear that the benefits go beyond just counteracting stress. If you'd like to experience deep relaxation through reflexology then please do contact me 07531 121199.

Listen to a free relaxation MP3 here.

If you are concerned about your stress levels and the effects on your body then please contact you GP or health care practitioner.

Posted on October 24, 2014 and filed under stress management.