According to April Reiersen, a New York City-based family nurse practitioner with a holistic specialty and a 500-hour registered yoga teacher with training in restorative yoga, this practice facilitates a quality of physical and mental rest that promotes balance in the nervous system response.
"It's a recalibration of the body's physiological response to stress, away from reactive patterns that lead to chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system-rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, tense muscles, and slow digestion," Reiersen says in an interview with The Daily Beast. "This 'fight or flight' response is key to human survival; however, when we remain in these states of chronic stress long-term, it is a setup for disease in the body," she adds.
The science behind mind-body medicine is rapidly growing. Reiersen cites rising consensus around the undeniable link between state of mind and health of the body. Studies in psychoneuroimmunology and psychoneuroendocrinology show improved immune responses and balanced hormones, respectively. She considers the art of relaxing as a form of preventative medicine.
"Chronic stress triggers inflammatory responses, and increased inflammation plays a central role in many diseases. Studies have shown that relaxation therapies promote a decrease in inflammatory signaling in stressful situations. When the body is allowed to rest we see a physiologic response that promotes the health and healing of the body," Reiersen explains. In many ways, it's easier to exercise--the act of movement--than face the stressors of life head on through a more passive practice like restorative yoga. This may be because we never really learned how to handle stress without exercise. We never learned how to be ok with being still.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: The stress that can really damage health is the stress we have gotten used to. With mindful resting, one becomes aware of new places where stress has taken up residence in the body. Use our E-1 Formula (Stress Relief) to harmonize and balance body systems that are out of whack.
Joy Does Not Have to Be Intensity
We find what we look for. Neuroscience calls this phenomenon the brain's "confirmation bias". Your brain tends to see what it believes to be true and misses whatever doesn't confirm its hypothesis. If you don't think you experience much true happiness because you're holding an image that it should be a peak experience of ecstasy, you probably will keep confirming that belief.
However, if you see moments of "okayness"--moments where you're not suffering--as moments worthy of appreciation, you open the channel to true well-being. And the more you notice and take them in, the stronger that flow of true well-being naturally becomes--not through force but through wise attention. As neuroscience expert Rick Hanson says: "The brain is like Teflon for positive experiences and Velcro for negative ones."
When you let go of looking for ecstatic states, you can find joy in the most commonplace moments. Edith, a student in Germany, had somehow equated joy with intense positive experiences. But when she stopped looking for those and just opened up to a simple feeling of well-being she started to experience things very differently. She put it this way:
"I noticed how much joy there already is and how I had somehow looked for a kind of super-mundane, 'spiritual' joy, more profound and lasting than our ordinary joy, that I would only reach if I practiced hard and in the right way. By having this concept, and by looking for this other kind of joy, I had missed out on a lot of 'ordinary joy' moments. As I focused on them, appreciated them and felt them more fully, I was so happy and sometimes almost overwhelmed at all the joy and blessings in my life."
I remember many years ago hearing a wise teacher give instructions on the Buddhist heart practice called "loving-kindness" or metta meditation. He said that sometimes the word "loving-kindness" can seem so lofty and noble that we imagine it's beyond our reach. He suggested connecting with the simple feeling of "kindness" or "friendliness" towards oneself or others. That's so much more accessible and it will start the gentle flow of good-heartedness we're looking for.
In the Buddhist model of happiness, refined states of well-being are ultimately more sustainable and more satisfying. As wonderful as it is, rapture is considered a coarser level of happiness that, after a while, becomes jarringjangling to the system. Gladness, then happiness, followed by contentment are considered states that are much more developed and fulfilling. Ultimately, deep peace is the most satisfying state of all, and is said to be the precursor to true enlightenment.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: Appreciation and gladness for what we already have, and a sense of adventure about the future is the key for well-being of mind and body. Use our Meditation Elixirs (particularly Zen and Higher Guidance) to discover new pathways to joy.
Put Those Sounds Around you and Heal
Just tuning in to the latest hits can relax, inspire or motivate you, but there are so many other ways that sound has been used throughout history as a healing modality.
In the middle ages, sacred vibrations in the form of sound were employed as a form of prayer in the powerful Gregorian chants, named after Pope Gregory the Great. An ancient, six tone scale that may be traced to these medieval chants, called the Solfeggio frequencies, is believed to impart spiritual blessing and healing. The mathematical resonances of original Solfeggio frequencies were thought to be capable of elevating ones connection to the Spiritual Divine. Documented results include improved relationships, release from feelings of guilt and shame, and they may also play a role in restoring DNA.
Tibetan singing bowls, made from both crystal and brass and played with a wooden mallet, produce unique, subtle tones that are used to focus attention, reduce stress and improve health. Indigenous tribes have long employed sacred drumming in spiritual and healing ceremonies, and Australian aborigines use the didgeridoo to invoke the sacred and alter consciousness. A research study known as "The Mozart Effect" indicates that listening to this classical genius improves ones execution of certain mental tasks, including problem solving. Baroque classical music is thought to elevate ones mood and productivity.
Music has been compiled to enhance children's learning abilities, as well as to calm animals. The sound of waterfalls and chimes are often used as an environmental relaxer. Tuning forks can be used for Chakra energy balancing. Mantras are used in meditation to raise your vibration, center and balance your energy. "OM", the ancient Sanskrit seed mantra thought to contain all the power of the universe, was recorded by NASA, and interpreted by many, as a sound emanating from the Sun!
This is just a hint of the profound power therapeutic sound can have. Pay attention to the sounds that surround you and take notice of their effect.
QUANTUM HEALTH TIP: Create a clear, clean space with our Clean Sweep spray, then delve into some of these sources of sounds as a daily meditation.
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"Stone of Spirituality and Contentment"
Spiritually: One of the most spiritual stones, encouraging selflessness and spiritual wisdom. It opens intuition and enhances psychic gifts; excellent for meditation.
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