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Mind-Body Stress Management: Deep Breathing, Guided Imagery, Meditation & Yoga | Articles
Mind-Body Stress Management: Deep Breathing, Guided Imagery, Meditation & Yoga
by Julie Lusk, M.Ed., NCC, C/RYT-E500 - Wholesome Resources President
Deep, diaphragmatic breathing (Pranayama) is very important and effective. It is done by observing and directing the breath so that it is even, smooth and full. How is diaphragmatic breathing practiced? The entire lung space is utilized each time a breath is taken in. The belly area rises, fills and expands upon each inhalation and falls, empties, and compresses upon exhalation. Eventually, diaphragmatic breathing replaces shallow breathing not only during time spent practicing focused breathing, but also throughout the day and night.
Avoid breathing such that the exhalation is faster and shorter than an in halation. Physiologically, this is related to anxiety and the stress response through the sympathetic nervous system. However, when the exhalation is slower and longer than the inhalation, the relaxation response is produced via the parasympathetic nervous system.
To get started, practice breathing so the inhalation and the exhalation are of equal length. After this becomes regular, the exhalation is next slowed so that it takes longer than the inhalation. Attention to a complete exhalation is one of the most important aspects of focused breathing.
Physically, focused breathing slows the heart rate, oxygenates all the cells, tissues and organs, improves digestion and elimination, nourishes the brain, and regulates the nervous system.
Mentally, focused breathing encourages much better concentration. This is done by continually bringing the attention back to the breath each time the mind wanders. Memory is improved because the brain gets the nourishment it needs from proper oxygenization resulting in clearer thinking and better mental functioning.
Emotionally, focused breathing eases uncomfortable feelings and brings feelings of evenness and equanimity through the acknowledgment, observation, acceptance, and release of emotions.
Spiritually, focused breathing connects us with the higher states of consciousness. How? First, consciousness is expanded because it brings the unconscious action of breathing to a conscious level. This helps us become more conscious in general. In addition, we directly experience our connection with the universe as we interchange the internal with the external.
Guided imagery, also referred to as creative visualization, is intentional daydreaming whose aim is to magnify the positive aspects of the mind-body connection. Guided imagery helps one uncover inner truth and direction while stimulating the intuition. It elicits real relaxation which awakens and activates the natural ability for self-healing to occur. Guided imagery helps with changing behaviors and habits.
Guided imagery is done in a relaxed state that is entered through focused breathing that is full, easy, and slow. This relaxed state can also be brought forth thr...
Dates: 11/10/2013 – 11/10/2013