Technology today, as I’m sure you are well aware, has dramatically improved our existence, and yet at the same time, enabled massive information overload. If this continuous barrage of information is not managed well; then stress levels become uncontrollable. What I’m sharing with you here; are a few very simple and doable techniques that will dramatically reduce your stress levels with immediate effect. I know that sounds like quite a statement, and if you’re a person who deals with high stress levels regularly; that may even seem impossible to you, but read on because you only need 3 to 5 minutes of your time daily, to be able to do them and the results are immediate and long lasting.
I assure you if you follow these simple instructions, within just 5 minutes you will completely relax, and you’ll feel like you’re living in a completely different body.
It’s been scientifically proven that by consciously controlling your breath you can change your mental, emotional and physical state within a very short time. The 2 breathing techniques I offer you here are specifically for relaxing the whole body; and once undertaken, you would find it literally impossible to be stressed.
Before we get into the ‘how to’ though, lets firstly look at the effects of being stressed as opposed to relaxed:
According to the American Institute of Stress; these are the 50 most common signs and symptoms of stress:
If you’re like most people living in this modern world, that list can be quite depressing once you see how many of those points relate to you. Many people don’t even realise that some of their symptoms are stress related, so getting conscious of this list gives you a tremendous advantage in being able to heal in many areas.
So lets look at what happens when the body is fully relaxed:
Relaxation is perhaps the single most important key to health and well-being. It is the perfect antidote to stress which is well known to contribute to the development of many diseases as well as all the different points mentioned above. When we relax however, our body has an opportunity to unwind. The benefits of relaxation have been well researched and some of these are summarised below.
Imagine if every one of the 50 stress symptoms mentioned were positively changed due to you relaxing a little bit each day. It’s clear to see that life would be remarkably better.
So how can you relax with immediate affect?
It’s all to do with how you breathe, if you look at a person who is stressed or in a trauma you will see that they are breathing rapidly and that their breathing is happening at the chest level. A baby, in contrast, that is peacefully content sleeping in her mothers arms; breathes slowly and from the belly. This gives us a big clue as to what to do to calm things down internally.
So the first thing to get used to doing is to watch your breathing as often as you can remember. Become aware of the speed of your breathing and whether or not you are breathing into the belly or the chest. Most adults have completely forgotten how to ‘belly breathe’ but it is key to slowing your entire energy processing system down. Belly breathing drops and lifts the big muscle of the diaphragm, the natural body mechanism that pushes air in and out of your lungs. It also helps to bring your awareness from your head into your body so that you feel more physically and energetically grounded. Belly breathing provides a wonderful massage for your internal organs, which in terms of your health is more important than toning and/or massaging your visible muscles.
With belly breathing; ideally you should be inhaling and exhaling from your nose, but if that is too difficult to start with then breathe in the nose and exhale out of the mouth. Only inhale and exhale from your mouth as a last resort but work on eventually getting to inhalation and exhalation from your nose.
As you inhale, feel the breath coming in your nose, past your throat and down into your lungs then down into your belly. Your belly will expand as you do this and contract as you exhale. Try not to expand the chest as you breathe in, focus on the air moving into the belly, and only inhale to about 70% of your full capacity
Make sure you exhale fully to rid yourself of all the carbon dioxide in your cells and lungs, then let your belly move back into it’s natural resting position and relax.
When you inhale and exhale make sure your breath is even, full and not at all forced. You may find it difficult at first because you’ve been so accustomed to breathing from your chest, but stay with it because it won't take long to train yourself to belly breathe; and as you do, you will be able to slow your breathing right down as well as take longer inhalations and exhalations.
Another important point to note is that you must keep the tip of your tongue touching the top of your mouth. If you were to say the word love your tongue is in exactly the right place as you begin that word and before you get to the ‘ove’.
In Taoism, (pronounced Daoism) the Chinese philosophy thought to be originated by Lao Tzu, it is said that there are 2 governing channels of energy that move up a persons back and down their front known as the ‘microcosmic orbit. These governing channels have 12 points around the orbit called acupuncture points and each of the points then have meridians (you can imagine them similar to electric cables that carry electricity) that carry energy from the governing channels to the different organs in a persons body. The stronger a persons governing channels, the healthier they become. The practice of Qigong (also known as Chi-gong) and Tai-Chi develop and strengthen the governing channels tremendously. One of these above mentioned acupuncture points is at the place where the tongue touches the top of the hard palate and when that happens the channels are united and energy flows. Keeping your tongue touching the top of your mouth is very important in both of these breathing exercises.
Okay go ahead and give it a try - tongue on the roof of your mouth and slowly and consciously breathing into the belly.
Learning to consciously breathe is one of the best gifts you could ever give yourself and belly breathing is a great way to start.
The Relaxation Breath
The second breathing technique I have for you is specifically for relaxation, and could be described as a natural sleeping pill.
It’s very easy to do, and all you have to remember is the ratio 4, 7, 8. What that means is that you are going to breathe in for the count of 4, then hold your breath for the count of 7, then exhale to the count of 8. The beats need to be the same for the whole process, and you inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for the best effect.
When you inhale to the count of 4, you will do that through your nose and quietly, but after you’ve held your breath for the count of 7, you will then exhale around your tongue audibly, which, as with the belly breathing is touching the top of your palate.
Don’t do this breathing technique for too long, it’s recommended to only do 4 to 6 cycles, twice daily to start with, gradually increasing as you improve. I find it an amazing tool to help me to sleep if my mind is too busy. It is recommended to do it daily though to ensure you program your system to stay relaxed.
Both of the above breathing exercises promote relaxation and heightened levels of consciousness, and if practiced regularly, they will bring your awareness much more firmly into your body. When your awareness is in the body, your ability to intuit your outer world heightens tremendously, you’re much more connected to reality and you become acutely aware of your true and authentic desires.
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