…For TEN Minutes
We all know what stress does to our body, there is so much information that after awhile the very word ‘stress’ loses its true meaning.
The definition of ‘stress’ that we are familiar with is : ‘specific response by the body to a stimulus that interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.’…dictionary.com.
Let’s look at another definition that is just as appropriate but from a different angle: ‘A load, force or system of forces producing strain’, AND ‘the action on a body of any system of balanced forces whereby strain or deformation results.’ Does ‘stress’ seem different to you now? Stress is also another word for what happens to a rubber band when too much strain is put on its elasticity until is stretched beyond its capacity or it breaks. This is the same ‘stress’ we experience but now it takes on a more serious meaning for our bodies.
Whether or not we realize it, we meditate every day. When you daydream or concentrate exclusively on a project, you are meditating. Conscious meditation is an exercise you can do anytime during the day, on purpose in order to bring your body into a calm state of mind.
Without divulging into the intricate processes of the body that are disrupted by stress, I will attempt to give you a brief synopsis of what happens in the body during a stressful moment. (By the way, a stressful moment can be as simple as sleeping through the alarm and being late for work) Our bodies have three systems of operation, for the sake of this article, we will concentrate on two. One is the ‘sympathetic’ which is considered the ‘fight or flight’ mode, this mode is in action any time you experience stress whether it is high stress like a confrontation with your boss to low stress which is finding out you have a stain on your silk outfit. Doesn’t matter, the body does not differentiate the levels. When these moments occur the body sends out signals that you are in danger and you need to be prepared. Adrenaline and epinephrine is sent through the body, digestion stops, heartbeat speeds up, breathing becomes quick and shallow…this all happens effortlessly because your body is a well organized machine.
Now the other system we will discuss is the ‘parasympathetic system’. This system governs the ‘rest and digest’ time in our body. This is the time when much of the body’s healing takes place and the cells release the energy that the body needs for rejuvenation.
Here are a couple of quick techniques you can use no matter where you are. They are quick yet very efficient and helpful for a very hectic or chaotic day.
SOFT EYES TECHNIQUE
Take 3 deep breaths in holding for a second or two and exhaling slowly. Now find a spot on the wall, table or anything in front of you that has enough blank space that you don’t feel you need to focus. Don’t draw your visual focus on anything in particular as the idea is to go into ‘soft eyes’. ‘Soft eyes’ is an expression for when you let your eyes defocus and simply relax and everything in your vision becomes blurred. When you have your spot and your eyes are soft, try to see everything in your peripheral vision WITHOUT moving your eyes or focusing. Just take in the objects around you. Now, again without moving your eyes, imagine seeing what is behind you from memory. See the objects in your mind’s eye while keeping your soft eyes. Do this for about 5 minutes and notice how different you feel when you’re finished.
CLOSED EYES TECHNIQUE
Take 3 deep breaths in holding for a second or two and exhaling slowly. Now find a spot in front of you and allow your eyes to go soft. Allow your eyes to slowly close and in your mind’s eye see yourself in a completely calm and tranquil place. It could be a place you’ve been before that had a particularly calming effect on you or you can create it. This is YOUR space, make it as detailed as you can…add a waterfall or take it away, add flowers or take them away…just take a moment and create…that is all there is to it. When you are ready open your eyes and notice how calm and centered you feel.
We know our bodies need rest, so does our mind. Give your mind a break and see how much more focused you will be on the task at hand afterward when you allow your mind to CHILL!
Presented by Lorri Woodmansee for the Center for True Harmony