The idea of relaxation brings forth all sorts of reactions from people, especially when it is recommended as a specific practice to learn for wellness. More often than not, people claim that they know how to relax and do it pretty well. However, as Americans, we actually don’t relax well, but we do the “have fun” part very well. There is a difference. Dr. Deb Carlin relies upon her blood pressure cuff and second hand on her watch, to provide biofeedback for people in order to make points about the benefits of relaxation clear.
There is nothing wrong with fun, in fact we encourage and prescribe that we each engage in it daily. However, the mind and the body need true release from stress and activity daily if we are to experience and enjoy true well-being. When Dr. Deb Carlin teaches the Relaxation Response, a very simple routine, people witness their heart rate slow and regulate and they also see their blood pressure drop to a safe, healthy level. This is important because our overtaxed organs need time to recover from our daily activity and over exertion. Americans get sick and die from diseases related to organ illnesses, which is why we need to take better care of these invisible parts of our body.
The practice of meditation is known around the world and in many forms, from religious to secular. How you choose to meditate is in your control, you can practice in silence, with music or even sounds of nature. Chanting monks engage in chanting because it readies them for a deeper experience of prayerfulness. Yogis emit a mantra to align their mind and body with one another and ready them for meditation and movement that relaxes and refreshes. We can each adopt a relaxation pose and experience that brings us calm and allows us to realize a deeper relationship not only to the self but to a higher power, one that gives our existence greater meaning beyond our own daily experience. This embracing of a higher power, whatever you label it, is repeatedly shown to add value, wellness, and longevity to human life. The goal is to provide yourself a physical space that allows you to release from this world, go into your mind and feel free and relaxed inside of your own self. The practice of meditation is beneficial for both your mind and body.
It is often thought that sleep produces a state of relaxation, but from sleep research it has been discovered that what we avoid thinking about during the day, we often dream about during the night making sleep not relaxing. In fact, sleep disorders are prevalent in America — increasingly more each year.
Two factors related to sleep
1. When sleeping we are often grinding our teeth as a result of tension, releasing gastric juices into the gut for the reason, or experiencing dreams that are disturbing either consciously or unconsciously.
2. Even when we intend on sleep, we don’t often get enough of it or a restful experience of it given the 24/7 nature of our world culture.
During the daylight hours when we are at our best, we can learn the simple relaxation exercises for the mind and body. When we begin practicing relaxation we not only experience relaxation during the day but have an enhanced sleep at night. It is a win-win scenario.
We have a series of relaxing audio and video experiences for you to enjoy, but one exercise guaranteed to reach you, teach you, and shift you in the most positive ways possible. All of the other relaxation techniques simply enhance it.
Relaxation exercises are not flaky routines. Dr. Carlin studied with Dr. Herbert Benson, the world renowned Cardiologist at Beth Bethesda Hospital to learn The Relaxation Exercise. Dr. Benson and Dr. Carlin, have both conducted extensive research, independent of one another, utilizing these techniques to help tens of thousands of people with high blood pressure and other disorders recover. The relaxation exercise is easy and the way that Dr. Herbert Benson has written it, it is exquisite. You are encouraged to read, try, and practice daily the Steps to Elicit the Relaxation Response.
The following is the technique reprinted with permission from Dr. Herbert Benson’s book The Relaxation Response – pages 162-163
1. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep them relaxed.
4. Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word, “one”*, silently to yourself. For example, breathe in … out, “one”,- in .. out, “one”, etc. Breathe easily and naturally.
5. Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.
6. Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating “one.” With practice, the response should come with little effort. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the Relaxation Response. * or any soothing, mellifluous sound, preferably with no meaning. or association, to avoid stimulation of unnecessary thoughts.
Use the following audio files to get started:
7 Minute Relaxation Exercises
11 Minute Relaxation Exercises
16 Minute Relaxation Exercises
For more information on managing stress and the benefits of relaxation exercises contact Dr. Deb Carlin’s Partners In Excellence LLC.