Suzanne Norman

Enlightened Living Articles

The Top 5 Things I Learned From My Yoga Practice

Thursday, July 07, 2016

The top five things I learned from my yoga practice

 

The practice of yoga has many benefits.  Most people will tell you that they felt different after their very first class. If you practice yoga regularly, you can’t help but change.

 

There is a reason this practice has stood the test of time – some five thousand years!  The word yoga was first mentioned in the oldest sacred texts, the Rig Veda.   And while it’s integration into the western culture has diluted its essence somewhat, even a halfhearted practice will give you a taste of the profound potential to radically transform your life.

I practice the science of yoga, I am not merely an asana practitioner, I try and live the yamas and niyamas, I have a disciplined pranayama practice, I work to cultivate inner awareness, and I meditate on the Divine, all with the hopes of attaining absorption - Samadhi.

The practice of yoga completely balanced me phsycho-emotionally and as I enter the second half of this life, it has kept my body supple, healthy and balanced.  I am not the same person I was before I began walking this path, and everyday I am honored and humbled to be helping others explore the potential of yoga as well.

Anyone who practices experiences the increase in body awareness.  Being able to feel parts of the body again, to really connect with the smallest of sensations. Not long after we are born, we are taught to ignore the innate intelligence of our bodies.  We are told when to sleep rather than listen to the body and sleep when we need it, we are told to eat, even if our bodies don’t hunger.  We are told not to eat when our bodies do hunger.  We are directed to keep our emotions in check, ignored or buried and we are taught to numb our aches, pains, and sensations.  By the time we are adults, we have lost touch with our bodies. Yoga brings the awareness back.

As you practice yoga you learn acceptance.  To accept your body without judgment, and to work with its limitations rather than against them.

And we feel a greater depth of gratitude…. gratitude that we have a body, a form in which to experience the sensate world around us.

But there are five things in particular that I believe are the most profound gifts from this practice.

1)    Mindfulness.

We live in a culture that no longer values being. We are so busy doing, that we have lost connection with ourselves, with others, and with everything around us.  Yoga teaches us presence.  To truly be in the moment, each and every moment.  In a pose, we are asked to focus on just the sensations and energy.  We are asked to absorb all of our senses in the breath as we sit on our cushions or lie back on our mats.  We are taught to get out of our heads and get back into our hearts.  And the mindfulness we learn on our mats translates to mindfulness in everything we do.  Listening to a friend, being with a lover, negotiating a contract or settling a dispute.  We are completely present in that moment and giving someone our complete attention is an act of love, there is no greater gift

2)    Patience

When we first encounter our body in a pose, we are met with resistance, rigidity, tension, and years of neglect.  It is a body that has forgotten how to relax, a body taught bad postural habits.  As we attempt to stretch away these things, our bodies will grip with a protective reflex in an attempt to maintain the status quo.  And it will stay where it knows if we rush through the process, if we give in to the resistance.  But we are taught to breathe with a neutral mind and wait.  We ask, will, invite the body to let go of what no longer serves us.  And eventually it does, and our bodies become graceful and flexible.  And then we find that (w) holistically we become more graceful and flexible. We become more patient with the world around us.

3)    Strength

For me, as a former athlete, the physical practice didn’t challenge me as much as the mental practice, but I was amazed by the integrated strength I developed.   Yoga makes bodies overall more balanced in its expression of power, there is a stability that develops that can only be described as grounded.  I often remind my students that if there is hardness in the body, there is hardness in the mind; if there is weakness in the body, there is weakness in the mind.   As our bodies become stronger, so too does our concentration and focus.  Our minds become stronger, our emotions become more stable. We become more grounded

4)    Surrender

Our culture teaches us to strive, dominate, and acquire.  We are conditioned to believe force is a sign of power and to meet resistance with even stronger resistance.  That lifetime of struggle is creating a society of aggression and stress.  Yoga teaches us to release our holding patterns and our forceful nature so that in a pose we can relax the muscles and go deeper or so in meditation our minds can soften.  Surrender isn’t about giving up or giving in, it’s about letting go.   There is inherent peace in the act of surrender.  And if we are a microcosm in the macrocosm, our act of surrender can affect the greater whole.

5)    Stillness

When we begin practicing yoga, we are focused on the movement of the body, the flow of the breath.  Eventually, we are directed to focus on the stillness between the movements or the pauses between the breaths.  As our practice deepens, and thus we mature, we connect with the stillness even within the movement and we become stillness itself.

What has been the greatest lesson or gift you’ve received from your practice?

We Are One

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

There is a South African philosophical tenet known as Ubuntu. It means, I am because we are.  The full proverb is Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu="a person is a person because of people".

The meaning is that we are interconnected with everyone and everything through an invisible field of intelligence and energy.  In quantum speak, this is known as nonlocality. Nonlocality and entanglement are signature concepts of quantum mechanics. 

In terms I better understand, nonlocality is when one object, without being anywhere near a second object, can influence the second object. Nonlocality occurs due to entanglement, whereby particles that interact once with each other become permanently connected, or dependent on each other.  Physicist have demonstrated time and time again that once an atom has been in the proximity of another atom, it will be influenced, or entangled, by that atom no matter how far away it travels.

The human body is made up of seven billion billion billion atoms.  When you meet someone, when you interact with someone, you are forever entangled.  If two test subjects, knowing each other,  were hooked up to an EEG and placed in isolated rooms, the brain-wave patterns produced by a series of strobe lights in one of the subjects eyes will appear identically on the other test subjects EEG even though he was nowhere near the same flashes.

This has profound implications.   If you think or speak negatively about or toward someone, does that mean they will feel it? Will it affect them on a cellular level?  If I watch the news with its pervasive negativity and feel a visceral reaction to it, is my partner feeling that too?  If you stay in an abusive relationship, does it mean your child feels the same pain?  On a global scale, doesn't this imply that if we are subjecting ourselves to negativity in any form, be it physical, mental or emotional, that everyone we have ever interacted with in all parts of the world would be affected by that negativity as well?   The concept of entanglement and nonlacality would have us believe that to be true.

Then it would also mean that if we were to pray for someone to heal, their cells would be affected by it, that we could help someone far away get better.  It would imply that I could send a warm embrace to my child and he would feel it.  It tells me  that if we, collectively, were to focus on and think about love, equity, harmony, brotherhood, peace, and compassion that we can create a new world.  We can, with our very thoughts heal the planet and bring peace to it's inhabitants.  

I feel a great sense of hope in this idea. 

So I will choose to turn off the negativity, both external (television) and internal (thoughts). I will care for myself knowing that what I do to me will have a far reaching affect on others.  I will be project loving and kind thoughts so that everyone I have ever met will feel them. I will forgive and I will be kind.  

 I Am Because We Are.



Heart Chakra

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

In our yoga classes this month, we've been focusing on the Chakra system.  An important concept of yoga is that of the Chakras. In yogic thought, the body contains seven primary points that store energy, known as Chakras.  (There are thousands of Chakras within our bodies)



Westerners would interpret the Chakras as nerve centers, but they are much more than this.  As life energy, called prana, enters our bodies (using oxygen as its vehicle) the breath and life energy serpentines its way down and up our spinal axis.  At the meeting points of this serpentine movement, a vortex of energy is formed.  These energy vortexes are Chakras



Though not physical in nature, they can be associated with various aspects of our physiology and psychology. 

They do more than store energy, each Chakra controls a different system of our body as well as a different realm of your emotions.  When a Chakra becomes blocked, you could suffer from problems in that area.  



For example, a sore throat, or….an inability to adequately communicate your feelings could signal a blocked

vishuddha (throat) Chakra.  If you have indigestion, or…are overly competitive, you could have an imbalance in your manipura (solar plexus) Chakra.



Certain yoga poses can make releasing and opening the Chakras easier, flooding them with energy, which helps to balance your entire body/mind.  
One of the goals of a yoga practice is to free the blocked prana to ensure balance and harmony in the physical body, the mental body, and the spiritual body.  


The Heart Chakra is called Anahatha.  This is associated with the cardiac plexus of nerves.  The heart Chakra is associated with the capacity for us to emotionally and spiritually nurture others.  On a physical level, imbalances here are associated with lung and heart diseases.  Psychological implication of a lack of energy imbalances here would lead to apathy or an inability to offer love to others.  Feelings of love and compassion are experienced at this center.  This energy center is about love, relationships, passion, joy of life.  It relates to the heart, lungs, thymus gland and emotions.


When we work with yoga asana to bring balance to this Chakra, we would look to heart openers, back bends!


One of my favorites is a simple, passive, supportive backbend.  Lie on the floor with a rolled yoga mat or blanket running perpendicular to the spin across the scapula (shoulder blades) with the arms in goal-post position above the rolled support.  Relax and breathe evenly but fully in the belly, back and chest.  Visualize your heart center, which is behind the physical heart.  imagine a radiant green aura of light coming from this place.  Each time you breathe in, allow that light to expand and as it does, expand the feelings of love, compassion, empathy, generosity, optimism, and grace.  As well, feel the muscles of the front of the chest, shoulders and mid-section releasing and relaxing.



Allow five minutes in this position.  When you are finished you will feel less tension and tightness in your shoulders and chest.  Your breathing will have deepened, and your posture improved.  More importantly, you will have a more open and compassionate heart center.

love thy enemies

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,.."  Matthew 5:44


I am not a religious person nor I don't profess to know much about the bible, but I do know that some consider this to be one of the most important verses in the entire New Testament and is what separates Christianity from all earlier religions.  I suppose most of the verses in most of the religious text are subject to personal interpretation, translated based on our own perceptions, conditionings and beliefs.   But this one is powerful and appears fairly straightforward to me.

But these modern times, especially In light of the recent events in so many parts of world, this ideology seems to be lost, forgotten, or ignored.  How does one "love thy enemy" when there is such hate, violence, and destruction imposed upon human beings by other human beings.  How can we forgive? How can we begin to heal as a species, a planet, a collective consciousness?  These questions keep many of us awake at night, worrying for our future.

I turn to the teachings of the wisdom traditions when I feel lost and disheartened.  Time and again, regardless of the problem I am seeking an answer to, I am presented with one simple idea…change your perception. Clear your lenses and try to see through new eyes.  This is empathy.

Empathy is not sympathy.  Sympathy is the outpouring of pity or feeling sorry for someone(s).  Empathy is the ability to step into the world of another person, what is it like to be in the skin of another, feeling what they feel, trying to understand.   Empathy is easier when its our neighbor. We can more easily step into the shoes of those near to us, especially if they are "like" us.  But empathy doesn't work so well at a distance.  For instance, how can you step into the shoes of an Isis operative to understand their motives?  How do you try to empathize with someone you hate in order to understand them? 

This is where Gandhi was so ahead of his time.  Gandhi, who was Hindu, said "I am also a Muslim, a Christian, a Buddhist, and a Jew.."  He saw the power in this, the power of empathy to bring about peace.  Gandhi dedicated his life to satya (truth) and peace. One of his more famous quotes of "an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world bind", supports his renown as  a pacifist committed to non-violence and conflict resolution.

For those not so steeped in the ideology of those like Gandhi, the militarist Robert McNamara, a former U.S. Secretary of Defense famously said that the number one rule in all foreign policy making should be to empathize with your enemy. He didn't mean to befriend or agree with them, he meant that to think smart, you had to understand what it is that drives them. Because if you don't understand them or where they are coming from, then all of your strategies to defeat them will be a failure.  While his motives were different, he understood the value of empathy.

Empathy is vital to any form of relationship, business, familial, or global.   So how does one begin to develop empathy?  There are many techniques or ideas you can consider to begin to open yourself to this ability, but one of the simplest ways is to simply be curious.

Develop and nurture your curiosity of another person, a stranger. Ask the Muslim guy that sells you your morning paper about his life, his world. Ask the Hindu in the tea shop about her family, her dreams.   Act as if that person is more interesting than your are.  Then you will begin to soften your fear and perhaps your hate,  and empathize (feel) what another person feels. You never really understand a person until you've stepped inside of their skin and walked around.

This is the only way to begin to heal, to build healthy and peaceful relationships toward a common goal. 

"A man is absolutely free only when there is no identity left.  You are neither a Christian nor a Hindu nor a Mohammedan; you are neither an Indian nor a German; you are neither a man nor a woman.  You are just a pure consciousness, and that consciousness is eternal." 

Healthier Summer Tips

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Sunscreen smarts 
We've been led to believe that sunscreens are the safest way to protect yourself from sun damage, and that's due to the fact that companies spend millions of dollars a year to keep you believing that. Yet most sunscreens block out beneficial UVB rays, (which are the ones that help you produce vitamin D) leaving you wide open to the damaging UVA rays... not to mention the toxic chemicals that are the ingredients in most of these products!


There are a few better ideas.  You may want to consider skipping the sunscreen. Don't wait until your skin turns dark pink to get out of the sun, go from sun to shade every 15-20 minutes, this is the best way to prevent a burn. You'll get a healthy dose of Vitamin D and avoid absorbing harmful chemical toxins.


Or consider a natural alternative. Coconut oil and aloe vera gel are natural sunscreens that are also good for your skin. And that red pepper you may throw on the grill will also help protect your skin. They're full of antioxidants that defend against sun damage.


Kill Pests, Not Brain Cells
Bug sprays containing DEET are some of the worst offenders when it comes to toxic chemical exposures, especially to children, and the longer the product claims to keep the bugs at bay, the more chemical it is likely to contain.  And the risk increases if it's left on overnight!
 
Why risk it? use essential oils instead.  Mix citronella, peppermint, and tea tree oil with witch hazel and distilled water.  Bugs hate it, and it smells great.


Quick Dips
Traditional swimming pools are full of harmful chemicals. Chlorine, bromine, and their byproducts can start damaging your DNA in as little as 40 minutes of exposure.  So keep your pool sessions to 30 minutes or less.  And remember, exposure to pool chemicals doesn't end once you're out of the water, so be sure to rinse off when you get out.


Healthier Grilling
Marinating meats in beer before grilling will help prevent meats from  forming carcinogenic compounds.  But so can pre-cooking them to further limit the amount of cancer-causing chemicals formed on the grill…like heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).


Start with grass-fed or organic, free range chicken.  They should be free of any antibiotics or hormones.  Bake it most of the way in the over. Then finish it on the grill right away to prevent bacteria from moving in.


Add Some Color
That's not the only way to help fight cancer on the grill. Antioxidants in vegetables can help soak up any toxins left behind on your meats.  Tossing them on the grill also helps to bring out their natural sweetness.


Zucchini, rich in vitamins A, B, and C, is a great choice as it hold up well on the grill.  Add some red peppers and this combo packs a healthy dose of antioxidants like lycopene and nasunin.  Together, they fend off cancer-causing free radicals!

Self-healing

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
There is scientific proof that you can heal yourself. And this isn't limited to just the nuisance symptoms that decrease your quality of life such as low energy,aches and pains and waning vitality. It applies to chronic health conditions that Western medicine hasn't been able to successfully address, as well as life-threatening illnesses.  


The Eastern medical and the more "natural" health modals have known this for hundreds of years. Our own contemporary medical establishment has been proving that the mind can heal the body of over 50 years.  We call it the placebo effect. There's loads of data proving that the mind can believe itself well. (We can also think ourselves sick, this is known as the nocebo effect)


Patients treated with placebos don't just "feel" better, they are getting better. Bronchi dilate, warts disappear, colons become less inflamed, hair grows back on the heads of bald men, ulcers heal, as well as many other measurable physiological phenomena.


It turns out, the body has built in self-repair mechanisms that fix damaged proteins, repair DNA, eat up cancer cells and other infectious agents that our bodies are exposed to everyday.  This natural ability explains the spontaneous remissions that we hear about from seemingly "incurable" diseases. 


How do these things happen physiologically? Through the power of our thoughts!  A positive thought or emotion can trigger spontaneous repair within the body.  A negative thought or emotion can, conversely, help foster dis-ease.


What disables the body's natural self-repair mechanisms?  Stress. Stress flips on a series of physiological cascades associated with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the "fight or flight" response of the sympathetic nervous system.  


But here is the catch, the body can only repair itself when it is in a state of physiological rest.  Whenever your body is in stress overload, it shuts down self-repair. 


In October, I will be hosting a workshop to share not just the scientific proof that you can heal yourself, but also tips for using the power of the mind to optimize the body's natural self-repair mechanisms.  You'll learn how disease prevention and spontaneous remissions aren't just something that happens randomly, but something you can experience for yourself.  


Please join us


Meditation Shown to Change Your DNA

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We know that meditation is good for us.  There are hundreds of studies showing how it can decrease stress, calm the mind and emotions, and increase mental clarity and focus.  The medical studies showing how, in as little as ten minutes per day, meditation can help reduce blood pressure, quell anxiety and aid in the prevention of heart disease, should be enough to get everyone on the meditation bandwagon!  But now we have more support in favor of this ancient practice. 

 
A recent study published in the Canadian scientific journal Cancer, the use of mindfulness meditation was shown to have an impact on certain types of DNA in breast cancer patients. Specifically it was the length of telomeres, which are tiny protective caps on the end of chromosomes. In this study, they found that the telomeres where physically altered as the result of mindful meditation.

Leading the investigation was Dr. Linda Carlson.  She and her colleagues took distressed breast cancer survivors and divided them in to three groups.  The first group was randomly assigned to an eight week cancer recovery program consisting of mindfulness meditation and yoga; the second to a twelve week group therapy in which they shared emotions and fostered social support, and the third was a control group, receiving  just a six hour stress management course.
A total of 88 women completed the study and had their blood analyzed for telomere length before and after the interventions.  Telomeres were maintained in both treatment groups but shortened in control group.

Wondering what telomeres have to do with anything?  Here's the lowdown.  
Basically, shorter telomeres correlate with ailments like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes (just to mention a few).  So if we can manage to keep these structures from shrinking, our overall health is better off.  This new correlations of telomere length with the age old practice of mindfulness gives people the power to control their own health!  

So if the zen-ness of a meditation practice isn't enough to draw people in, maybe the proven promise of physiological health benefits will get them on the bandwagon!

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article-our-dna-through-mind-control/
http://www..ornishspectrum.com/wp-content/uploads/increased-telemerase-activity-and-comprehensive-lfestyle-changes.pdf

The Mind Governs the Body, not Partially, but Wholly

Tuesday, November 26, 2013
In any situation, you have the ability to have any response you want. When you forget that, the mind/body connection ceases to be effortless and natural, stress begins to accumulate and negative signals from the mind begin to damage the body.

Any thought or feeling must express itself physically because all of our thoughts create chemical reactions. Everything we think and do originates inside the deepest levels of consciousness and bubbles up to the surface of life. You are constantly creating your reality, so make your thoughts positive, loving and healthy.

There is an old Indian saying that goes, “If you want to see what your thoughts were like yesterday, look at your body today. If you want to see what your body will be like tomorrow, look at your thoughts today.”

The real medicine our bodies need is the medicine of awareness

Foods that Help Fight Stress

Friday, November 01, 2013

Just the other day I was asked what the hardest thing I’d ever done was. Without hesitation, and without thinking about it, I responded, "the year 2013!"

For me, this year provided a lifetime of challenges and can be defined with one word, loss. This emotionally stressful year has challenged me in many ways. One of the most troubling of these has been to my physical health. I began to feel depressed and had trouble sleeping. I gained weight, despite the fact that I couldn't eat.  I suffered digestive problems, agitation and migraine headaches. My road back to balanced health will take time and patience.

I am luckier than most in that I am educated in and teach an array of stress reduction techniques and healthy lifestyle choices. Yet my daily yoga and meditation practice and knowledge of how stress works weren't enough to fully protect me.  

A body under too much stress for too long starts to exhibit the signs of adrenal exhaustion: fatigue, depression, skin problems, sleeplessness, weight gain, hormonal imbalances, lightheadedness, poor memory, blood sugar fluctuations, among other symptoms. And at this point, relaxation and yoga are not enough. We have to also nourish the body with foods and supplements if we hope to find balance again.


We all deal with stress every day, and our bodies strive to adapt and keep balanced and healthy. Can foods help you with stress? Most certainly. There is a category of herbs called adaptogens that help the body adapt to stress, restore balance, and support normal metabolic processes. They help increase the body’s resistance to emotional, environmental, biological, and physical stressors and promote normal physiologic function.

There is ample research to prove many of these herbs  are important medicines that can be used for the prevention and treatment of a variety of common ailments. Adaptogens are superior healing herbs that have a long tradition of use and benefits. They are remarkable natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and provide a defense response to acute or chronic stress. They are unique from other substances in their ability to restore the balance of endocrine, hormones, modulate the immune system, and allow the body to maintain a state of homeostasis.


An adaptogenic substance is defined as an agent that allows the body to counter adverse physical, chemical, or biological stressors by raising nonspecific resistance toward such stress, thus allowing the organism to “adapt” to the stressful circumstances. Some researchers contend that adaptogens enhance the body’s natural bipolar homeostatic balancing capacity and help return stressed physiological systems to normal. Adaptogens produce changes in the body because they stimulate and balance several body systems, including the immune and neuroendocrine systems.


The traditional systems Traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine from India, Tibetan medicine, and kampo from Japan, have long histories of success with herbal medicine. 


Traditional herbal medicine differs in both theory and practice from Western medicine. In traditional herbal medical systems, herbs (medicines) are seen as correcting internal disharmony rather than simply targeting symptoms as in western medicine. There appear to be active constituents found in herbal adaptogens that work to stimulate the neuroendocrine and immune systems via multiple metabolic pathways. They affect the brain, nerves, endocrine glands (pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, thymus, pineal, pancreas, ovaries, and testes), and immune system by helping to normalize and enhance function.


 Adaptogens also modulate our responses to stress and help regulate and support the immune system. Adaptogenic herbs support the entire neuroendocrine system, in particular adrenal function, helping to counteract the adverse effects of stress.


I suggest adaptogens to my clients for an array of health challenges and I encourage you to research them. My favorite adaptogenic herb is ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune amphoteric, antitumor, nervine, antispasmodic, mild astringent, and diuretic.

Ashwagandha is a calming adaptogen. It enhances endocrine function, especially helping to re-regulate the thyroid and adrenal glands. Few herbs have a direct effect on thyroid function, but in animal and human studies, ashwagandha root was found to stimulate the thyroid, making it useful for hypothyroidism. Because of its nervine functions, it is very effective for anxiety, fatigue, cloudy thinking, stress-induced insomnia, and nervous exhaustion. This herb is a key player in my nutrition arsenal these days and I believe it should be considered as a daily tonic against normal, every-day stressors and not just when you feel overwhelmed with stress. It’s the every-day stress that simmers and eventually boils over.

Cautions: avoid using this herb if you are sensitive to nightshade plants. Avoid using this herb if you have hyperthyroidism. It is probably best to avoid its use during pregnancy.

Stress & Your thoughts

Friday, November 01, 2013
“Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life” Andrew Bernstein

The ability of the body/mind to manage stress successfully is critical to health and vitality. Stress may be the leading cause of illness and disease. The American Institute of Stress reports that as many as 75 to 90 percent of visits to physicians are due to stress-related complaints. In survey after survey, Americans identify stress as the number one health concern today and more than 50 percent of adults in the United States report high stress on a daily basis. And chronic stress, in addition to a host of physical symptoms, can cause serious mental/emotional imbalances.

The events, the challenges, the tough situations will always be in your life. Some of them you can change, some you really ought to change, and many of them you have absolutely no control over. What you do have control over is YOU. Stress management is really you management. You can control what you eat, what you drink, you can control your activity level. You can learn to say no to things you don’t really want and yes to those you do. And yes, you can even control your emotions and the way you react to situations. You can learn to relax, mentally and physically.


It has been said that stress is the body’s non-specific reaction to any demand made upon it. By non-specific, it is meant that our bodies respond in essentially the same way no matter what the stressor. The reaction will be the same whether you’ve lost a loved one or won the lottery. The heart starts beating faster, blood pressure rises, adrenaline releases into the blood stream. Digestion slows. You may feel a racing heart, cold hands, short and shallow breathing, upset stomach. We’ve all experienced these things from time to time. It’s called the flight or fight response. It was a pretty good system in the cave-man days. Faced with a threat, you could fight it out or run away. Either way, you got it out of your system, and things settled back to normal. Today’s stressors usually don’t lend themselves to fighting or fleeing. Usually we just stand and take it, and that means we store it up. And that’s exactly what happens, the distress builds up and accumulates until eventually it just has to manifest itself some way. Stress build-up attacks the immune system, so it affects us wherever we are most vulnerable; some may have ulcers, others may experience heart problems, headaches, emotional and mental disturbances, even cancer, just to name a few. We may see it in our behavior, like over-eating, under-eating, drinking, drug abuse, aggressiveness, and so on. And, as you may know, these things themselves are stressors, which feed back into your system, and the vicious cycle goes on.


Fortunately, there are simple things you can learn to do to mitigate the accumulation of stress. One of the easiest is simply learning to relax. Relaxation can also accumulate in your system and help undo the effects of stress. Relaxation lowers your blood pressure, slows the heart rate, clams the nervous system, and eases tension. As you learn to relax, you will also have an opportunity to create a mental getaway, a private place in your mind where you can go any time you need to relax and promote healing for your mind and body. You can change your perception and learn how to let go of old ideas and beliefs, memories and emotions that no longer serve you well. Most importantly, you can learn to love and appreciate yourself. Remember, your perception is your strongest stress management tool.


I have created a “mental getaway” CD called Relaxation for Stress Release

, and listening to this recording daily can help you reduce the accumulation of stress and start accumulating the health benefits of relaxation. This audio recording is an effortless way to teach your mind to respond differently to stress.

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