The Chosen Way


Meditation....

Growing interest in the mind-body connection is fueling a major comeback of the ancient practice Yoga, boosted by research suggesting it can reduce stress and blood pressure, improve work performance, even slow effects of aging.

Several techniques are now being taught in mainstream hospitals and businesses; books about them are brisk sellers and discussion groups have sprung up on the Internet.

Even the Army is interested - it has asked the National Academy of Sciences to study meditation and other new age techniques that might enhance soldiers' performance.

Details differ, but a common theme is relaxing the body while keeping the mind alert and focused - on an object, sound, breath or body movement. If the mind wanders - and it always does - you gently bring it back and start again

Stress-related problems account for 60percent to 90percent of U.S. doctor visits, and mind-body approaches often are more effective, and cost-effective, than drugs or surgery. For example, 34percent of infertile patients get pregnant within six months, 70percent of insomniacs become regular sleepers and doctor visits for pain are reduced 36percent.




Breathing and Relaxing

You don't need to fall into the stress mode of life. You can use breath to relax, rather than stress, your mind and body. Yoga helps you to relearn that natural state that your body and mind want to be in: relaxation.

Deep breathing is both calming and energizing. The energy you feel from a few minutes of careful breathe is not nervous or hyper, but that calm, steady energy we all need. Slow, steady, and quiet breathing gives a message to your nervous system: Be calm.

Whole books have been written on yoga breathing. Here is one 5-minute Breath Break. (Read through the instructions several times before you try the practice.)

1. Sit with your spine as straight as possible. Use a chair if necessary but don't slump into it. Feet flat on the floor with knees directly over the center of your feet. Use a book or cushion under your feet if they do not rest comfortably on the floor. Hands are on the tops of your legs.

2. Close your eyes gently and let them rest behind closed lids.

3. Think about your ribs, at the front, back, and at the sides of your body. Your lungs are behind those ribs.

4. Feel your lungs filling up, your ribs expanding out and up. Feel your lungs emptying, your ribs coming back down and in. Don't push the breath.

5. The first few times you do this, do it for 2 to 3 minutes, then do it for up to 5 to 10 minutes. At first, set aside a time at least once a day to do this. When you learn how good it makes you feel, you'll want to do it at other times as well.

Just as one stressful situation goes into your next challenge, relaxing for a few minutes every day gradually carries over into the rest of your daily life and activities.

A Better Mindfulness Exercise

Sit down, relax and breath deeply through your nose. Let your eyes close and be aware of your breath going in and out. Move your attention to your body, one part at a time, noting sensations of cold, hot, tight, sore and anything else you identify. After a few minutes, start listening to sounds in the room, without thinking about them. Just listen, while still maintaining an awareness of your body and your breath.

In ten minutes or so, or when it feels right, open your eyes and look around as if you are seeing for the first time. Let your eyes rest on an object for half a minute, examining it without talking about it in your mind. Then move to another object, and another, while still maintaining an awareness of your body, your breathing, and any sounds. Just stay in this state of mindfulness for a few minutes, until you are ready to get up.

When you are aware of your body, breath and immediate enviroment, you are more fully "in the moment." Your mind is in a receptive state, with fewer mental distractions that can prevent clear thinking. An exercise like this before important mental tasks will give you greater brain power, specifically more focus and concentration. Today is a good day to learn something new. Why not try one of these mindfulness exercises?



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