Mindfulness to relieve stress

When clients ask about the best ways to achieve relaxation and counteract stress, I have different suggestions to make: for example, they can listen to relaxation CDs. But mindfulness should be the goal.

Meditation of receiving Reiki sessions on a regular basis are of course in the menu of choices I’d offer clients and I may also teach them how to use “progressive relaxation” techniques where they progressively bring the body to a state of generalized muscle tightness to then let go.

photo of woman looking upwards
Photo by Jonathan Andrew on Pexels.com

In the haste of these days even the best of intentions are in the way of introducing changes in our lives, and we often aim at a quick fix.

Then, the only mantra you’d get to recite is “I have no time,” since you jump from deadline to deadline and between setting new applications on your smart phone, answering voice messages and emails, checking your social media, or downloading movies on the computer… not much time left for self.

I understand it’s unrealistic to ask busy people to take even ten minutes to practice mindfulness, add meditation or progressive relaxation practices, adding to an already crowded agenda. It will only sum up to the overwhelming pile of to-do things.

But… don’t add it, just incorporate it

A rather easy way to manage stress is the way of the observer. The main ingredient in the recipe is awareness: living fully in the present; becoming conscious of our body, our thoughts and our emotions in every minute of our lives. It requires practice to get out of the “automatic pilot” kind of mode, but once you get it, it becomes as easy as turning on a light switch.

Give it a try right now, start with this: instead of moving your eyes toward the end of this page, trying to guess what comes next, read word by word, appreciating the p a u s e s  b e t w e e n   l e t t e r s, the         p a u s e s                between             words, the commas and the colons and the periods. Look at the form of the letters, the ink color and the background in which these words are printed. Now, become aware of your body, relax your shoulders, observe your breathing (don’t change it). No need to change anything, just witness the inflow and the outflow of the air you’re breathing. Monitor your doing. Be conscious of the surroundings: how loud is your environment; how does the temperature of the air feel on your skin; how comfortable is your body in the position you’re sitting now. Move a little, shift posture; make sure that you’re really comfy.

Now change your standpoint a bit and carefully observe your surroundings. You may immediately notice a shift, your thoughts slowing down… This new perspective would give full body to your experience.

Repeat this exercise every time that you feel engaged in a frantic, anxious pace, or for no reason other than to enjoy relaxation. Maybe set your alarm to remind you to take three minutes every hour for this mindfulness exercise. You’ll notice changes in the quality of your health. You’ll experience a relief in levels of anxiety.

Physiological advantage

You’ll notice that as you pace down your heartbeat and your blood pressure may decrease. The best part of this practice is that on the long run you’ll save time, because awareness lessens the number of mistakes you make and improves your creativity.

When mindfulness helps you slow down, brainwaves change frequency. There are four categories of brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least activity. When the brain is aroused, it generates beta waves (low amplitude, fast waves, ranging from 15 to 40 cycles per second).

Then, there are alpha brainwaves (slower, and higher in amplitude ranging from 9 to 14 cycles per second) typical of a person taking a break during intense activity.

Ideas flow easily in a theta brainwave state (greater amplitude and slower frequency, normally between 5 and 8 cycles a second) typical of a person who’s daydreaming or in a state of mental relaxation. And finally, there are the delta brainwaves (of the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency, between 1.5 and 4 cycles per second). These are the predominant brainwaves found in deep meditation and dreamless sleep.

To put it in another way, when you become mindful, your right side of the brain is allowed an opportunity to play its part. Left brain is intellectual, logic, impatient, fast (predominantly beta waves). Right brain is intuitive, symbolic, and creative. Using both hemispheres grants you balance and using your full potential. Working with both hemispheres is like having two instead of one employees working fulltime and on total accord for you.

 

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