Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Resolution: "Learn To Chillax"

No matter what you eat, or how much you exercise, there are always negative factors in life that need management. Stress affects all of your bodily functions. Not only do stressful situations affect our blood pressure, but the chemicals released keep the body's fight or flight response on guard. This response, if engaged often and long term can affect our heart, circulatory system, and the health of our organs.

Many people choose to take medication for chronic stress. This can make you less prone to a meltdown, but there are side effects that can affect your health in other ways. What most people don't know is that a daily 10 minute "time out" can be just as beneficial as a daily pill.

There are many types of meditation to try. Some use accompanying mantras or chants which are used to help focus and get past all of the wild thoughts dancing in your head. Some styles use positive visualizations or music to bring relaxation.

Zen (called Zazen) meditation is one of the easiest styles of meditation to learn. It's simple and beneficial because it lacks demand. It takes no effort to sit and clear your thoughts. That's it. Listen to your own breath and nothing more.

Zazen can be practiced sitting, standing, or even walking. The point is to focus on nothing but breathing and stillness. The Zen Mountain Monastery in the Catskill Mountains of New York offers free Zazen instructions on their website.

If you aren't inclined to meditate Buddhist style, that's not a problem. Find a place, preferably a quiet place in nature, and focus on 10 minutes of silence. When you first start out, you might find that 10 minutes dragging on while you cough, shift, scratch your nose, or anything else that you can find to distract yourself with. This is the exact reason that you need to start with only 10 minutes.

If you're naturally shifty, 10 minutes seems like a lifetime, but a perfect place to begin your new relaxed future.

If you absolutely can't sit still for10 minutes, consider some type of moving meditation. My legs get jumpy if I sit for too long. Because of this, I've chosen to practice Qi Gong. This is a very slow movement choreographed with breathing that keeps me occupied while quieting what they call "monkey mind." I enjoy Qi Gong because it allows me to move around a little while being silent.

There are many Qi Gong DVD's available, but for free you can watch your choice of hundreds of clips on  Checkout 8 silk brocades which is a short and simple group of exercises known to move vital energy through the meridians bringing better health. This is a wonderful place to begin your relaxation practice.

My message here is that if you're stressed out, it is affecting your body. I dodged meditation for years because I claimed that I couldn't relax, but I just kept getting more stressed out. After focusing on learning to let go, my demeanor got calmer. I even gave up coffee!

My blood pressure is normal now and I sleep like a baby. It all began with 10 minutes a day.

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