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I am very into alternative methods of healing that I consider more “easter thought” than western medicine approaches. Here is a quick breakdown of my favorite techniques for relieving symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder and for calming down now.
This is a quote from the “Stress Workbook”, listed in resources at the end of the post:
“Differentiating between your external awareness and internal awareness in order to separate the world from your physical reaction to it is important. External awareness includes all stimulation to the five senses from the outside world. Internal awareness refers to any physical sensation, feeling, emotional discomfort, or comfort inside your body. Much of the tension in your body isn’t felt because most of your awareness is directed toward the outside world.”
Here is an exercise (shortened from the same book mentioned above) to help with body awareness:
- Internal vs. external awareness
- First focus your attention on the outside world. Start sentences with, “I am aware of”
- After you have become aware of everything that is going on around you, shift to focusing your attention on your body and your physical sensations – your internal world
- Shuttle back and forth between internal and external awareness
- Used at free moments through the day, this exercise allows you to separate and appreciate the real difference between your inner and outer worlds
Another good relaxation technique is to learn to breath from your diaphragm. This is important because it is the basis for making all breathing techniques more effective. In fact, with proper diaphragmatic breathing you can decrease stress, improve your exercise results, and learn to stretch deeper, such as during yoga sessions.
Specific exercises, and my favorites:
- Breath counting
- The relaxing sigh, or sigh breath
- Yoga breathing
Meditation is another great technique for reducing stress. Here is a good introduction on using meditation for stress reduction, which covers the benefits, different types of meditations, and a list of basic techniques.
Four factors that help meditation:
- A relatively quiet environment
- A mental device that provides a constant stimulus
- A comfortable position
- A passive attitude
My favorite meditations:
- Focused meditation. I like to focus on the smell of incense, Nag Champa specifically
- Eating meditation. This one is very detailed, but could easily be simplified
- Walking meditation
- Progressive relaxation
- Root chakra meditation, from the Way of Chakras by Caroline Arewa:
“Prepare your sacred space by cleansing the room and burning incense or essential oils. Sit in front of a burning candle and stare for a moment into the bright shining flame. As you stare into the light feel the universal life force all around you, feel the light embrace you … Go into the light … know that you are universal light.
Now close your eyes and allow your breath to deepen. Slow, even, breaths. Let your breath flow to all parts of your body. Feel the movement of breath as it relaxes every individual cell.
Bring your attention to all the sensations experienced in your body. Be aware of your temperature, your weight, and your connection to the floor. Feel your base on the earth – your feet, lets, buttocks and genitals, sitting on the lap of mother earth. She is holding you. Always there giving you her love and support.
Visualize the dark mysterious earth beneath the floor, under the concrete and deep below the foundations of the building. visualize yourself growing roots from your base that reach right down into the centre of the earth; into her warm belly, into her creative womb. From your roots draw her force, her love and her protection up into your being. Fill your self full – fulfill yourself – with the earth’s sacred energy. It is yours and you can take as much as you want.
Feel the pulse of the earth under your body. Tune your entire being to the earth’s vibration … feel her rhythm inside you … know that you and the earth are one. Her wisdom is your wisdom.
Be still and tune to the flow of earth energy for 15 minutes or more.
Listen, as the earth your mother shares her knowledge. She has a message especially for you. Let your body be still, your mind quiet and your spirit open to receive her blessing. The secret of the earth will be revealed to you. Give thank for all the blessings received.”
– Expect to receive: physical health.
- White Light Relaxation, from the book Creating Good Karma, by Nevill Drury:
“This mediation exercise helps you to learn to center yourself spiritually, initially through relaxation, then by practicing some form of meditation or visualization that suits your own individual purpose.
Sit comfortably on the floor or in a chair, loosen any items of clothing that are likely to provide either distraction or discomfort, then begin progressively to relax different parts of your body.
You might like to begin by visualizing in your mind’s eye that your feet are becoming increasingly limp and relaxed, then your ankles and your calves have also relaxed in turn. Imagine now that your legs are completely relaxed, and that a soothing feeling of relaxation has entered your abdomen and is working it way into your upper body. Now your chest is becoming completely relaxed and you are breathing deeply and without restriction. Finally, your arms, allowing the focus of your attention to remain solely in your head. Keep your focus on awareness itself, and imagine now that your head is filled with pure, radiant white light.
Now expand this field of pure white light and feel it moving gradually back down through all parts of your body. Visualize this stream of light passing down through your neck, into your chest, along your arms, and back down into your abdomen. Now imagine that it is extending down into your legs, finally reaching the soles of your feet. Finally, all of your body is filled with pure white light…
Now, take a little time to experience the soothing qualities of this healing light, as it helps you to feel completely at ease with yourself. Stay with this deeply comforting and relaxing feeling, and then when you are ready, open your eyes and gradually return to your everyday awareness.
Variation: visualize your breath as a stream of pure white light, entering through the crown of our head, then forming a vortex as it passes down through your body. As you do this, imagine that each intake of breath is bringing new life and vitality to every cell in your body, and that each corresponding out-breath is removing anxieties or other negative emotions.
Don’t allow your mind to wander or create any distractions. If you find your powers of concentration are wavering, bring your focus back to the essential in-out rhythm of your breathing and the spiraling vortex of light. In this way, you will stay fully centered – truly ‘at one’ with yourself.”
Visualization can help reduce stress and be used as a tool to achieve your goals.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your visualization practice, again from the “Stress Workbook”:
- Loosen your clothing, lie down in a quiet place, and close your eyes softly
- Scan your body looking for tense muscles, relaxing any that you find as much as you can
- Form mental sense impressions: Involve all your senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste
- Use affirmations. Repeat short positive statements that affirm your ability to relax now. Use present tense and avoid negatives. Here are some examples:
- Tension flows from my body
- I can relax at will
- I am in harmony with life
- Peace is within me
- Visualize three times a day
My Monster Visualizations
- Create a vision board.
- Guided imagery, or as I like to call it, your favorite place
- And just for kicks, here is a fun “periodic table” of ways to visually represent data
- Creating Good Karma, by Nevill Drury
- The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook
- Way of Chakras
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