Tag Archives: Spirituality

How can you relieve stress? Awareness!

446622_13920854-300x225I believe that the most powerful concept that we addressed in the book “Perfect Breathing: Transform Your Life One Breath at a Time” was the concept of awareness. Not that this was our brain-child – I think someone beat us to the punch by five or ten thousand years – but it is hands down the most important tool at our disposal when it comes to making changes, improving our lives, and dealing with stress.

Without awareness, we are wandering around in the dark without any reference point. And if you are trying to get somewhere, it is very helpful (read that essential) that you know where you are starting from. Awareness provides you with that critical information, i.e. “where am I right now?” and “what is the state of my mind, body, emotions, and spirit?”

We feel strongly that developing an awareness of your breath is the most practical, efficient, and accessible method of developing mind/body awareness and devote a considerable amount of ink in “Perfect Breathing” to helping people accomplish that.

A recent guest post at the dailypress.com by Mike Verano, a thymus cancer survivor provides some really valuable perspective on the subject of stress and awareness as well as one of the most often asked questions “How do I deal with stress?”

Mike provides three great tips. You can read them for yourself here, but I’ll summarize them for you:

First, forget about getting rid of stress or even managing it. It is ever-present and usually it arises from things that we have no control over. Instead, focus on something that you do have control over – namely “you.” In any given situation, the constants, the things that you always have control over are your thoughts and your actions.

Secondly, stress is not something that is thrust upon you. You are not a victim of stress. It is something that you create. Stress arises when our circumstances require a change of behavior when we would prefer to keep doing business as usual. Using the mindfulness technique of (figuratively) stepping back, taking a deep breath and asking the question “why am I stressed?” or “why am I angry or frustrated?” or “what am I resisting?” is an amazingly effective technique for diffusing stress.

That brings us to the third tip: Breathing. Your breath has the power to counteract the “fight or flight” chemicals that are coursing through your body and shift your thought process away from the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” of the past and the “what-ifs” of the future. It brings you solidly back to the here and now, where as it turns out, everything is actually happening. And to complete the circle, as mentioned earlier, focus on the breath deepens your awareness of your mind, body, and emotions, which in turn allows you to clearly see the actions and behaviors that are creating stressful situations.

So in honor of Stress Awareness month give these simple techniques a try and turn the tables on stress!

We’re Wired for Bliss, and It Starts with the Breath!

iStock_000002284032Medium-e1409261782668-300x129I’ve recently become fascinated with the work of Dr. Candace Pert, a noted neurologist who has done some groundbreaking work in the realm of neurotransmitters in the body. Her basic contention is that our bodies are actually “wired for bliss.” She disputes the age-old model that all control rests in the mind, and declares that your entire body is one giant receptor.

As has been written about her, “As the leading pioneer in a radical new science of life, this … world-class neuroscientist has given us an inside look at the molecular drama being staged within every cell of the human body — and a glimpse into the future of medicine.

As you’ll recall, the breath fuels every one of the trillions of cells in our body. Dr. Pert is a big proponent of the power of the breath as well.

Her landmark work, “Your Body Is Your Subconscious Mind,” is powerful piece of holistic enlightenment. Bill Moyer, in his amazing documentary, “Healing and the Mind,” interviewed Dr. Pert.

Take a look at this youtube video at: http://youtu.be/cOSLvTWjebw

Your Secret Weapon for Combating Holiday Stress

Thanksgiving-MarthaChapaOMG! Wasn’t it just Fourth of July? But now the leaves are all over the yard and the pumpkin is rotting on the front porch. The holidays are here again.

The holiday season can be a mixed bag for many people. It is a time to focus on the things that are really important – family, friends and the multitude of blessing we enjoy. But it can also be stressful and exhausting, with busy schedules, entertaining, shopping, dealing with holiday-crazed crowds and drivers, and expending endless willpower trying not to blow that diet by completely overindulging in eating and drinking.

During this special season it is more important than ever to take advantage of the remarkable powers and benefits of conscious, intentional use of your breath. It is your secret weapon for minimizing the stress of the holidays while maximizing your enjoyment.

Happier Holidays

Using your breath can help you create happier holidays in several ways:

1) It is a great stress reliever

Conscious breathing is the most powerful weapon you have to de-stress any situation. A few deep breaths can keep you from going postal when you get cut off in traffic or you arrive at the store to find that someone else just grabbed the last toy that your kid has to have. Your breath is a chill-pill that is always available and the effects are immediate.

2) It keeps you in the moment

The reason that breathing techniques are used by performers, athletes and most spiritual traditions, is that it keeps you in the here and now. It keeps you from worrying about the dinner you have to cook next week or reliving the debacle last year when your dog pulled the turkey onto the floor. It grounds you and allows you to enjoy the moment and the things that are truly important about the holidays.

3) It keeps you healthy

The combination of holiday stress with he onset of cold and flu season can have unpleasant results. Having to slog through it all battling a cold or flu can dampen anyone’s holiday spirit. A daily dose of conscious breathing practice will strengthen your immune system and make you more resistant to colds and flus. It also accelerates the healing process if you do catch one of those nasty winter bugs.

How to breathe your way through the holidays

It is a simple prescription. Spend just 5 minutes practicing our Six Second Breath exercise every day, and find a way to remind yourself to take 2-3 slow deep breaths as many times a day as you can. It helps to use reminders – an hourly nudge in your phone, a note on the bathroom mirror or refrigerator door, or perhaps every time you hear a Christmas song?

Give yourself this powerful present this season and see how it will make you happier and healthier all year long!

[Photo courtesy of Martha Chapa]