Dealing with Depression & Pain

13 Mind-Body Techniques That Can Help Ease Pain and Depression

By Dr. Joseph Mercola

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

Many aches and pains are rooted in brain processes that can be affected by your mental attitude and emotions. While the mechanics of these mind-body links are still being unraveled, what is known is that your brain, and consequently your thoughts and emotions, do play a role in your experience of physical pain.

For instance, meditation appears to work for pain relief because it reduces brain activity in your primary somatosensory cortex, an area that helps create the feeling of where and how intense a painful stimulus is. Laughter is also known to relieve pain because it releases endorphins that activate brain receptors that produce pain-killing and euphoria-producing effects.

This line of communication between mind and body runs both ways though, and physical pain, especially if it’s chronic, is a well-known trigger for depression. According to psychologist Rex Schmidt at the Nebraska Medical Center Pain Management:[1] “Depression and pain happen to share a part of the brain that’s involved in both conditions, which means that mind-body techniques that affect those areas can be efficacious for both.”

Meditation and laughter are just two examples of a burgeoning new field of science that looks at mind-body therapies to address depression and chronic pain. Here are 13 such strategies…

#1: Add EFT to Your Self-Help Toolkit

The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) is a form of psychological acupressure based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles.

Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to transfer kinetic energy onto specific meridians on your head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, anxiety, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.

This combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” — the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

Some people are initially wary of these principles that EFT is based on — the electromagnetic energy that flows through the body and regulates our health is only recently becoming recognized in the West. Others are initially taken aback by (and sometimes amused by) the EFT tapping and affirmation methodology.

But believe me when I say that, more than any traditional or alternative method I have used or researched, EFT has the most potential to literally work magic. Clinical trials have shown that EFT is able to rapidly reduce the emotional impact of memories and incidents that trigger emotional distress. Once the distress is reduced or removed, the body can often rebalance itself, and accelerate healing.

In the videos below, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman shows how you can use EFT to relieve your physical pain and depression.

You can also learn more here: A Comprehensive Guide to the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

#2: Massage the Pain Away

Massage offers real health benefits, so much so that some conventional hospitals are making it a standard therapy for surgery patients and others. Along with promoting relaxation and improving your sense of well-being, getting a massage has been shown to:

  • Relieve pain (from migraines, labor, fibromyalgia and even cancer)
  • Reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and ease insomnia
  • Decrease symptoms of PMS
  • Relax and soften injured and overused muscles, reducing spasms and cramping.
  • Provide arthritis relief by increasing joint flexibility.

Massage affects your nervous system through nerve endings in your skin, stimulating the release of endorphins, which are natural “feel good” chemicals. Endorphins help induce relaxation and a sense of well-being, relieve pain and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline — reversing the damaging effects of stress by slowing heart rate, respiration and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure.

Stronger massage stimulates blood circulation to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues and helps the lymphatic system to flush away waste products. It eases tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility and flexibility. Massage is said to increase activity of the vagus nerve, one of 10 cranial nerves, that affects the secretion of food absorption hormones, heart rate and respiration. It has proven to be an effective therapy for a variety of health conditions — particularly stress-related tension, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 percent to 90 percent of disease.

As reported by iVillage.com:[2]

“[A] new study from Thailand suggests that traditional Thai massage can decrease pain intensity, muscle tension and anxiety among people with shoulder pain. Meanwhile, research from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida found that when adults with hand pain had four weeks of massage therapy, they reported a lot less pain, anxiety and depression.

Another study at the Touch Research Institute found that when pregnant women who were depressed received massages from their partners twice a week, they had much less leg and back pain and fewer symptoms of depression during the second half of their pregnancies.”

#3: Remain in the Now…

Practicing “mindfulness” means that you’re actively paying attention to the moment you’re in right now. Rather than letting your mind wander, when you’re mindful you’re living in the moment and letting distracting thoughts pass through your mind without getting caught up in their emotional implications. Though it sounds simple, it often takes a concerted effort to remain in a mindful state, especially if it’s new to you. But doing so can offer some very significant benefits to both your mental and physical health.

For example, mindfulness training has been found to reduce levels of stress-induced inflammation, which could benefit people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma.

This makes sense, since chronic stress heightens the inflammatory response, and mindfulness is likely to help you relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. In one eight-week study,[3] people who received mindfulness training had smaller inflammatory responses than those who received a control intervention, which focused on healthy activities to reduce psychological stress but without particular instruction on mindfulness. Similarly, according to iVillage.com:[2]

“Mindfulness meditation — focusing on your breath and each present moment — can lessen cancer pain, low back pain and migraine headaches. Researchers at Brown University in Providence, R.I., found that when women with chronic pelvic pain participated in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program, their pain decreased and their mood improved.”

In many ways, mindfulness is similar to transcendental meditation, the idea of which is to reach a place of “restful” or “concentrated” alertness, which enables you to let negative thoughts and distractions pass by you without upsetting your calm and balance. This type of meditation is easy to try at home: simply sit quietly, perhaps with some soothing music, breathe rhythmically and focus on something such as your breathing, a flower, an image, a candle, a mantra or even just being there, fully aware, in the moment.

Researchers report that practicing mindfulness meditation for just four days affects pain responses in your brain. Brain activity decreases in areas devoted to monitoring a painful body part, and also in areas responsible for relaying sensory information.

For more information, please see: Why We Get Held Hostage by Our Emotions – and How Mindfulness Can Help

#4: Take Control with Biofeedback

In biofeedback, electrical sensors attached to your skin allow you to monitor your biological changes, such as heart rate, and this feedback can help you achieve a deeper state of relaxation. It can also teach you to control your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension through your mind. According to psychologist Rex Schmidt:

“Through focus and mental strategies, biofeedback induces the relaxation response and gives you a greater sense of control.”

Biofeedback is often used for stress-related conditions, such as:

  • Migraines and tension-type headaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Back pain
  • Depression and anxiety

#5: Free Yourself from Tension with Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is achieved by tensing and relaxing all the major muscle groups, one at a time, from head to toe. By learning to feel the difference between tension and relaxation, you can more actively disengage your body’s fight-or-flight response, which underlies most pain, depression and stress. As reported by iVillage.com:[2]

“Studies show that whether PMR is used on its own or with guided imagery, it helps ease emotional distress and pain from cancer, osteoarthritis, surgery and other conditions.”

#6: Harness Relaxation with Tai Chi

The 2,000-year-old Chinese practice of tai chi is a branch of Qigong — exercises that harness the qi (life energy). It’s been linked to numerous health benefits, including improvements in the quality of life of breast cancer patients and Parkinson’s sufferers, and has shown promise in treating sleep problems and high blood pressure.

Often described as “meditation in motion” or “moving meditation,” the activity takes your body through a specific set of graceful movements. Your body is constantly in motion and each movement flows right into the next. While practicing tai chi, your mind is meant to stay focused on your movements, relaxation and deep breathing, while distracting thoughts are ignored.

Part of the allure is that it’s so gentle, it’s an ideal form of activity for people with pain or other conditions that prevent more vigorous exercise. You can even do tai chi if you’re confined to a wheelchair. Even respected conventional health institutions such as the Mayo Clinic[4] and Harvard Medical School[5] recommend tai chi for its health benefits, especially as a stress-reduction tool. However, there are more studies available than you might think; suggesting tai chi has an impressive range of health benefits. To browse through them, please see the WorldTaiChiDay.org[6] web site. According to the study, A Randomized Trial of Tai Chi for Fibromyalgia:

“In a recent study at the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, researchers found that when people with fibromyalgia participated in 60-minute tai chi sessions twice a week for 12 weeks, they had much less physical and mental discomfort. The researchers also reviewed the medical literature on tai chi’s effect on psychological well-being and concluded that it reduces depression, anxiety and stress.”

#7: Breathe Easy…

Deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which induces the relaxation response. There are many different breathing practices that you can try, but here I’m going to share two that are both powerful and very easy to perform. The first one I learned when I attended a presentation by Dr. Andrew Weil at the 2009 Expo West in California. The key to this exercise is to remember the numbers 4, 7 and 8. It’s not important to focus on how much time you spend in each phase of the breathing activity, but rather that you get the ratio correct. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Sit up straight
  2. Place the tip of your tongue up against the back of your front teeth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process
  3. Breathe in silently through your nose to the count of four
  4. Hold your breath to the count of seven
  5. Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight, making an audible “woosh” sound
  6. That completes one full breath. Repeat the cycle another three times, for a total of four breaths

You can do this 4-7-8 exercise as frequently as you want throughout the day, but it’s recommended you don’t do more than four full breaths during the first month or so of practice. Later, you may work your way up to eight full breath cycles at a time. The benefits of this simple practice are enormous and work as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.

The second is known as the Buteyko Breathing Method, which is a powerful approach for reversing health problems associated with improper breathing, the most common of which are overbreathing and mouthbreathing. When you stop mouth breathing and learn to bring your breathing volume toward normal, you have better oxygenation of your tissues and organs, including your brain.

Factors of modern life, including stress and lack of exercise, all increase your everyday breathing. Typical characteristics of overbreathing include mouth breathing, upper chest breathing, sighing, noticeable breathing during rest, and taking large breaths prior to talking.

Controlling anxiety and quelling panic attacks is one of the areas where the Buteyko Method can be quite useful. If you’re experiencing anxiety or panic attacks, or if you feel very stressed and your mind can’t stop racing, try the following breathing technique. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing and reduces anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you go into a more relaxed state:

  1. Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
  2. Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
  3. Breathe normally for 10 seconds
  4. Repeat the sequence

To learn more, see: The Buteyko Method: How This Simple Breathing Technique Can Radically Transform Health

#8: Hypnosis for Pain Management

Hypnosis, which is a trance-like state in which you experience heightened focus and concentration, can help decrease pain by altering your emotional responses to your body’s pain signals and your thoughts about the pain. Contrary to popular belief, you do not relinquish control over your behavior while under hypnosis, but it does render you more open to suggestions from the hypnotherapist. As reported by iVillage.com:

“Studies show that hypnosis can help manage the pain from childbirth and metastatic breast cancer as well as chronic low back pain. What’s more, cognitive hypnotherapy can lead to less depression, anxiety and hopelessness among depressed people than cognitive behavioral therapy does, according to research from the University of Calgary in Canada.”

#9: Soothe Your Mind and Body Through the Power of Music

If you’re a music lover, you already know that turning on the tunes can help calm your nerves, make stress disappear, pump up your energy level during a workout, bring back old memories, as well as prompt countless other emotions. When you listen to music, much more is happening in your body than simple auditory processing.

Music triggers activity in the nucleus accumbens, a part of your brain that releases the feel-good chemical dopamine and is involved in forming expectations. At the same time, the amygdala, which is involved in processing emotion, and the prefrontal cortex, which makes possible abstract decision-making, are also activated, according to recent research published in the journal Science.[7] Other research[8] revealed listening to music resulted in less anxiety and lower cortisol levels among patients about to undergo surgery than taking anti-anxiety drugs. As reported by iVillage.com:

“…[R]esearchers in Cleveland found that when [burn] patients listened to music and used visual imagery as a distraction when their wound dressings were being changed, they experienced significantly less pain, anxiety and muscle tension. In a study in Norway, depressed people who had music therapy plus psychotherapy were less depressed and anxious and more functional than those who just did regular therapy.”

Musical preference varies widely between individuals, so only you can decide what will effectively put you in a particular mood. Overall, classical music tends to be among the most calming, so may be worth a try. To incorporate music into a busy schedule, try playing CDs while driving, or put on some tunes while you’re getting ready for work in the morning. You can also take portable music with you when walking the dog, or turn on the stereo instead of watching TV in the evening.

For more information, please see: How Music Benefits The Brain

#10: Take Up Yoga

Yoga has been proven to be particularly beneficial if you suffer with back pain, but recent research also suggests it can also be of tremendous benefit for your mental health. Duke University researchers recently published a review[9] of more than 100 studies looking at the effect of yoga on mental health, and according to lead author Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center:[10]

“Most individuals already know that yoga produces some kind of a calming effect. Individually, people feel better after doing the physical exercise. Mentally, people feel calmer, sharper, maybe more content. We thought it’s time to see if we could pull all [the literature] together… to see if there’s enough evidence that the benefits individual people notice can be used to help people with mental illness.”

According to their findings, yoga appears to have a positive effect on:

  • Mild depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Schizophrenia (among patients using medication)
  • ADHD (among patients using medication)

Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy, by influencing neurotransmitters and boosting serotonin. Yoga was also found to reduce levels of inflammation, oxidative stress, blood lipids and growth factors.

For more information, please see: Modern Science Confirms Yoga’s Many Health Benefits

#11: Visualization and Guided Imagery

According to iVillage.com, visualization techniques or guided imagery can serve as an important tool to combat both physical pain and depression by imagining being in “a better place.”

“Research shows it can help with pain from cancer, osteoarthritis and childbirth by providing distraction and promoting a state of relaxation. In addition, a study from Portugal found that when people hospitalized for depressive disorders listened to a guided imagery CD once a day for 10 days, they were less depressed, anxious and stressed over time, compared to peers who didn’t use visualization.”

Ideally, you’ll want to immerse yourself as fully as you possibly into your visualization, using all your senses: seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, and feeling. According to Dr. Schmidt:

“Using all your senses changes levels of brain chemicals such as serotonin, epinephrine and endorphins, and with regular practice you’ll gain more of a sense of control, which is often lacking when you’re in pain or depressed.”

#12: Repeat a Calming Mantra

The repeated incantation of a mantra — a soothing or uplifting word or phrase of your choice — in a rhythmic fashion can help you relax in a similar way as mindfulness training. The focused repetition, also called autogenic training, helps keep your mind from wandering and worrying, and engages your body’s relaxation response.

“A study at the University of Manchester in the U.K. found that autogenic training helped female migraine sufferers decrease the frequency and intensity of their headaches. And research from the University of Melbourne in Australia suggests that autogenic training may provide ‘helpful longer-term effects’ on symptoms of depression,” according to iVillage.com.

#13: Remove Pain and Dysfunctional Psychological Conditions with the Neurostructural Integration Technique

The Neurostructural Integration Technique (NST) is an amazing innovative technique developed in Australia. Using a series of gentle moves on specific muscles or at precise points on your body creates an energy flow and vibrations between these points. This allows your body to communicate better with itself and balance the other tissues, muscles and organs. The method of action is likely through your autonomic nervous system (ANS), allowing your body to better carry out its many functions the way it was designed to.

The main objective is to remove pain and dysfunctional physiological conditions by restoring the structural integrity of the body. In essence, NST provides the body with an opportunity to reintegrate on many levels, and thus return to and maintain normal homeostatic limits on a daily basis.

NST is done with a light touch and can be done through clothing. There are pauses between sets of moves to allow your body to assimilate the energy and vibrations. To learn more, please review the article, Gentle Hands Can Restore Your Health, by Micheal Nixon Levy who developed the technique.

Sources and References:

On Proper Breathing

What is Your Quality of Breath — Did You Know You Could Be Starving Your Body of Oxygen?

Written by August 13, 2015

Lavender Field by Cherie Roe Dirksen header

Taking Breathing For Granted

Breath — it is the first thing we do when we experience this life and the last thing we do when we make our grand exit.  As physical beings, it is our life – we cannot function without it.  And yet we take it so for granted.

“Did you know that your quality of breath can determine your quality of life?”

In meditation, it is our bridge between the noise of our minds and the accessible silence.  It can be our pathway to stillness and present moment awareness.

Did you know that your quality of breath can determine your quality of life?

Breathing correctly boosts the brain (it has even been shown to spark brain growth — especially in the elderly), invigorates the body and helps us to find clarity (especially when we find ourselves under stress or anxiety).

Controlled breathing can even lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Did you know that:

  • Oxygen is important to blood cells because oxygen is needed to make energy for our body.
  • You don’t get blood cell oxygenation from food — you breathe in O2 and it is picked up by the red blood cells in the lungs and taken through the body to all the cells via hemoglobin.

But Don’t We Breathe Naturally?

Most of us are on auto-pilot with our breaths — they are shallow and we don’t usually pay much attention to the inhalation/exhalation process.

Be honest with yourself — how often do you take a deep, belly-filled breath?

I know you’ve just done it now 😉 But think about it — it’s not that often, right?

Try to consciously breathe, even if it is every hour.  As mentioned above, deep breathing will help your body by infusing your cells with oxygen, bringing vitality and balance to your system.

Shallow breathing restricts oxygen to the brain causing fatigue and lethargy so — whenever you can — put your attention on your breath.

Try this exercise: 

Breathe in to the count of eight – really fill your lungs and let your stomach expand to the extent that you look pregnant.  Hold that breath to the count of eight and then release it slowly to the count of eight.

Do this 3 times as many times a day as you can, especially in the morning, when you awaken, and just before sleep.

It will give you an added kick to the day and induce restful sleep at night.

Using Mindful Breathing to Begin Therapeutic Meditation

To those of you who are old-hat with meditating — you can skip this part. For those who are new to meditation and want to try it out…it may benefit you to read on.

When you engage in mindful breathing (find somewhere quiet to sit or lie down, close your eyes and put your attention on inhalation and exhalation) you form a bridge to the ‘still’ place in your mind.

With time and practice, you will be able to cross that bridge a little easier every time you engage in meditation and breathwork.

Don’t judge yourself or get upset if your mind just won’t shut up – this is normal and takes a lot of practice to get to the point where you can achieve full stillness without all the fluff and ‘white noise’.

Sometimes my mind just won’t let go of a song or tune when I am trying to meditate (especially when it thinks it’s being funny and starts up with ‘The Sounds of Silence’) and I just let that be – it usually dissipates in the end.  Just persist with the mindful breathing and go with the flow of where your consciousness wants to take you.

“This is the journey into the mind and it can be a wonderfully calming experience…”

Mindful breathing techniques in meditation can be really awesome as you begin to sense the vibrations and different frequencies in the ether and all around you.  It might come in the form of flashing or bright coloured lights or a vortex or wormhole.  Sometimes it just remains dark or ‘spotty’ – a bit like the night sky.

Stay with this and see where it takes you.  This is the journey into the mind and it can be a wonderfully calming experience.

Enjoy using your nasal passages and lungs to enliven and revitalize your body and soothe your soul!

from:    http://consciouslifenews.com/quality-breath-could-be-starving-body-oxygen/1194270/

On Prana, Chakras, & Meditation

Navel Gazing 101 - a Mini-Meditation Seminar

Navel Gazing 101 – a Mini-Meditation Seminar

Story by: Norma Gentile with Archangel Michael

The Navel Chakra – a quick primer
The primary way that the body generates its own prana (energy or chi) is through the navel chakra and your breath.  As you breathe in there are two vortexes located at your physical navel; one in front and in back. With each breath prana is drawn through the back and front vortexes of the navel chakra into the core of your body.  To the extent that the navel chakra (both front and back vortexes) are tuned to your soul and body accurately you generate prana that is usable by your body now.

Just like any of the multitude of major and minor chakras in our body, our navel chakra is probably somewhat out of tune with our soul’s journey in our body. One of the most common causes of not having enough ‘get up and go’ or ‘seeing it through to the end’ is having the navel chakra not tuned to your body, to your soul, or tuned into this moment in time.  Too often our navel chakra still reflects the umbilical cord connection to our mother or our family.  It can also be tuned to generate energy for our body as it existed during another period of our life.  Or even be tuned to generate life force for a spouse or other person we deem more needful or more important than our self.

As the navel vortexes, both in back and in front, are tuned to your body and soul in this moment now, energy is generated that is usable by your entire chakra system. This energy is often referred to as prana or chi. Great Masters of various spiritual traditions have the ability to generate large amounts of prana within their body.  This amassing of prana allows them to relate to the physical world without being bound by all of the physical world’s rules.  They can, at times, choose to use this prana as a means of moving outside of the rules dictated by our physical universe.

Prana exists all around us.  Our personal prana, tuned specifically to our bodies, exists within the pranic tube (running up and down in the center of our bodies) and in pranic spheres located in and around our body. We have the ability to store prana that our body can use within pranic spheres located in our head, heart, and navel. There appear to be other spheres of pranic energy above and below the physical body as well.  At the present moment I am seeing the three pranic spheres within the body as being the most active.
The pranic sphere related to the body center lies deep within the body at or just under the navel chakra.  Its center point varies from person to person. I see it either directly behind the physical navel or hovering an inch or two lower in the body. This lower position is the most common; where the upper part of the pranic sphere intersects with center of the navel chakra.
 photo NavelPranicTube_zpsb300a328.jpg
The pranic sphere located at your navel is the equivalent of your magic ball. It is the basis of the prana within your pranic tube and hence the entire chakra system.  It is from this sphere that prana (energy, chi) is distributed to every major chakra in your body through the pranic tube.  Sometimes a depletion of energy in your life or body stems from an inability to generate sufficient prana at the navel chakra.

Each of the major chakras has its center within the pranic tube.  Each chakra is supplied with prana from the central channel or pranic tube.  Each chakra then collects its own appropriate energies by drawing additional energy or prana from the outside into the core of the chakra through the webbing of the vortex that make up each chakra. The prana provided in the pranic tube mixes with the prana drawn in and tuned by the vortex of the chakra. This prana, unique to each chakra, is then dispersed from the chakra’s core into the pranic tube to other chakras and to layers of the aura surrounding and interpenetrating the physical body.  In this fashion the prana generated at the navel chakra becomes the basis of all prana available to your body.

If there is a lack of this most basic navel prana, the entire process of creating energies for the body to use at each of the chakras is greatly diminished. In my private practice I am routinely finding that it is not individual chakra issues we are addressing now, but overall issues related to simply not generating enough navel chakra prana in our daily living.

As a singer I am fortunate because I can set aside time to sing each day.  As I sing I naturally breathe deeply and generate prana.  When I do yoga or swim I am also generating prana.  But how often do we give ourselves permission to do something that has us actively engaged in conscious breathing?  For most people the answer is never.

Breathing Practice to Build Prana
Let’s change that with a simple conscious breathing practice you can do on your own.  This is especially good to do when needing to move out of boredom or stagnation.  Don’t do this while driving as it might make you light-headed or distract you.  Do try this while seated and in a location where you feel comfortable.

Find your navel chakra.  You may need to put your hand on your body to do this.  Now imagine or feel where your navel’s pranic sphere might be.  You don’t have to know this exactly or even be sure of it.  Just let yourself explore the possibility that there is a sphere of energy within your body at or slightly below your physical navel.

Breathe out all the way.  Feel the muscles of your abdomen and lower torso move inward.  You may feel the upper abdomen directly below your ribs move inward and also upward a bit.  This is the diaphragm moving upward and expelling air out from your lungs.

Now relax and allow the air to move back into all of the areas of your body that it just moved out of.  While our intake of air is of course limited to our lungs, the process of breathing can involve almost every muscle of our body.  For now, let’s focus on our torso, and allowing all the areas that want to move with the breath to be free to move.

Start with a slow count of two.

One – Two breathe out.

One – Two breathe in.

Repeat four times

Now go to a count of three.

One – Two –Three breathe out.

One – Two – Three breathe in.

Repeat four times

Now do the same on a count of four.

One – Two –Three – Four breathe out.

One – Two – Three – Four breathe in.

Repeat four times.  You may continue this pattern of breathing as long as you feel you want to, up to ten minutes.

If at any time you feel you are getting out of breath and need to breathe more quickly do so, and start the breathing pattern over again at One – Two. As you practice this you will find that you can slow down the counting more and more.  This type of breathing, inhaling and exhaling at the same speed and amount, generates a lovely quality of balance in the overall energy field of your body. It creates prana that is tuned to your own body’s balance. This breathing pattern done daily will help to supply your body with its own source of well refined prana.

After you finish breathing, or even during the process, you may notice that the pranic sphere appears to be growing larger or brighter. For those who do not see energies, your body may feel fuller or warmer around your navel. This indicates you are successfully generating more of your own prana as you breathe.

You may also notice discomfort in your body or a sense of unease.  As you are filling the navel sphere and your pranic tube with your own prana there is less space for energies that are not in tune with your body and soul.  As a result these energies are pushed up into your conscious.  They are often interpreted as odd or repeating thoughts, relatively sudden emotions or emotionally charged memories, heaviness or quickly arising body aches.  These are all interpretations  made by your body, mind and heart of energies that no longer fit you and your life.

Ask each thought, emotion, memory and body ache if it is really yours.  Is it really yours now, in this moment?  I find it best to keep as much of your attention as possible on the breathing process and ask the questions silently as the sensations arise. These questions coming from your consciousness indicate to the energy behind the thought, emotion or physical sensation that you are ready to release it onto its own journey now.  There is no need to follow it as it leaves, and most of the time there is no need to know what it is.

If there is something more you need to know please trust that you will get it from within spontaneously or from the Universe at a later point in time.  This process of breathing is meant to bring you out of your head and into your body…so stay in the body with the process as much as possible.

Why Build Prana Consciously?  

To hear your Spiritual Helpers more clearly.
As you breathe you generate more and more energy that perfectly supports your body.  This pranic energy acts as a medium that fills the space between your body, your guides and angels, and your soul.  The more this space is filled with your pranic energy, the easier it is for you to hear the messages that are coming to you from your soul, your guides and your angels.

I am sure you have had the experience of being faced with a decision.  And as you are presented with the possibilities, one jumps out immediately as being the appropriate choice for you.  It feels like a fit to you, and often there is a sense of relaxation or expansion when you are presented with this option.  As you build more prana throughout your lifetime your soul’s connection into your body is enhanced.  The sensation of what fits and what doesn’t fit is magnified by the presence of this prana, tuned to your body.

What doesn’t fit for you eventually doesn’t fit literally within your body or your aura.  For myself, I experience options that don’t fit me as a twisting sensation in my gut.  Those situations and choices that do fit me feel comfortable, even though they might appear to be physically difficult to undertake.  There is an innate expansion in my auric field when I consider a choice that is appropriate to my soul and body. Acting upon this choice results in my creating more of this same quality of prana to fill my aura.

When we are considering different choices, it is our navel chakra that experiences each of the options first.  The pattern of each choice is tested within the navel chakra, and our body tells us the resulting ‘yes’ or ‘no’.  We can do this while being presented with the choices (by someone speaking to us, for example “Do you want to go see a movie tonight?”), as well as while we are in a meditative state and holding each option within our mind as a thought or mind’s eye as a picture.  For most people feeling their navel chakra and body response to different choices is at first a very subtle art, best done in meditation.

Ideally when we sit quietly and breathe we are generating prana which is accurately tuned to our bodies.  Then, as we are faced with a decision, enough prana is present in the various layers of our energy field so that we can feel which option fits best.  Without sufficient prana, a means to generate it, and an ability to sit quietly, there is no medium to carry the communication between our body, our guides and angels, and our soul.

Sitting in deep stillness and focusing on our breath is one of the ways we build prana.  While it seems to be the simplest, the art of meditating on the breath is quite vast.

In our culture we are seldom exhorted to enter into meditation or a conscious state of deep stillness. We are seldom expected to notice how our buttocks are interacting with the chair or surface upon which we are sitting.  In fact, we are seldom praised for being consciously within our bodies much at all, especially that part of ourselves below our waists!

As you breathe while consciously aware of stillness, your heart chakras open more.  As your upper thymus gland and traditional heart chakras both open, each breath generates prana, tuned to your soul’s journey, which in turn allows a greater ability for you to be connected from your heart with all that surrounds you.

With this meditation you have linked your heart to your body center.  You are beginning to regain the conscious awareness of your body that you had as an infant.  This awareness of the physical body ceased as you lived within your culture, but it can be regained.  As you do regain it you open into numerous possibilities of sensing and feeling connections to others and to all that surrounds you, both in form and not in form.

Validate the changes you have made…this process will continue!

This essay comes out of thoughts and meditations shared during a recent live channeling. The meditative channeling itself is available as a free podcast #37 Breathing Stillness, Generating  at Norma’s podcast page www.healingchants.com/podcasts

Norma Gentile with Archangel Michael Norma Gentile
Sound shaman, is a natural intuitive and channel for Mary, Archangel Michael and the Hathors. She trained as both a professional singer and energy worker.

from:    http://spiritofmaat.com/magazine/june-2013-midsummer-solstice-issue/navel-gazing-101-a-mini-meditation-seminar/

Breathing Through Emotional Stress

emotion

How to control your emotional state through breathing

Friday, May 24, 2013 by: Seppo

Tags: Emotion, Breathing, Control

(NaturalNews) For centuries, the art of breathing has been one of a myriad of tools employed by Yoga masters in order to calm the body and mind, in preparation for meditation, contemplation or simply to remain in control of one’s emotions. Long utilized as a spiritual practice, a recent study has now brought the use of breathing as a way to control emotions into the realm of neuroscience. The results are promising and could mean a reduction in the administration of drugs as a form of anxiety, depression and anger management.

The study and its findings

Carried out at the Universite de Louvain by Dr. Pierre Philippot, the research study focused on two groups with the aim of investigating whether breathing can generate and regulate emotions and their intensity.

While we are already aware that breathing has a calming effect on us, in situations such as when we are under pressure or in the midst of panic, it isn’t clear whether breathing actually generates emotions. This study helped immensely in that regard since it showed that each emotion actually has a specific breathing pattern associated with it.

For example:

Panic – Short, fast, shallow breaths
Anger – Long forced breaths
Calmness – Slow steady breaths
Happiness – Long inhalations, long exhalations

The first group was asked to generate each of the above emotions by modifying their breathing pattern and recalling a memory that helps in eliciting that emotion.

Each participant from group one also filled out a questionnaire, citing breathing patterns alongside each emotion according to their own experience. This questionnaire proved to be eye-opening as the answers garnered were in accordance with each other right across the board, for the most part. That is, each participant used a similar breathing pattern to generate happiness (and this holds true also for the other emotions).

The second group was asked to breathe using the breathing patterns from the first study group. Not long after, they began to experience the specific emotion attached to that particular breathing pattern made clear in the first part of the test.

The results suggest – just as Yoga masters and instructors have known for centuries, breathing really does affect one’s emotional state.

What does this mean for you?

Quite simply, it means that there is now another tried and tested method for controlling our emotional state, which previously was believed so difficult. Once this information is passed on to the general public, no longer just in possession of Yoga practitioners, we might see a slight improvement in the general mental health of the population.

Sufferers of anxiety, depression, anger etc. will be able to learn how to control their emotions through breathing and this could mean a drop in the dependence upon drugs as a treatment. For many, drugs are not working, and are in fact making things worse.

Granted, just as with anything that requires concentration, such as exercise or meditation, breathing to control one’s emotions undoubtedly requires discipline and diligence. Nevertheless, these results offer a much needed alternative to the limited techniques already in use for those in emotional turmoil and could one day be employed by therapists and counselors.

Where Traditional and Alternative Medicine Agree

Traditional Doctors, Alternative Treatments: An Intersection?

Complementary Treatments

 

Sometimes it can seem as though complementary/alternative treatments and traditional medicine live in two silos — never the twain shall meet, as the saying goes. We go to the doctor when we’re sick or for regular wellness checks. And we go to the yoga studio or a meditation class. Yet we don’t talk to our doctors about how one can support the other.

But the tide may be turning — a recent study in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine has found that three percent of people seeking out mind/body treatments, such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation, are doing so based on a referral from a medical provider.

And while that number may not seem to be particularly high, consider a yoga or meditation class, of say, 30 people — on average, one of them is there because their provider told them to be, explains lead author and HuffPost blogger Aditi Nerurkar, M.D., M.P.H, a physician and integrative medicine fellow at Harvard Medical school and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “We weren’t expecting it to be that high,” she says. “Forty-one million Americans are using mind-body therapies. Of those, 6.4 million are using mind-body therapies because they were recommended to by their provider.”

Looking at a nationally representative sample size of 23,000 survey participants, the researchers found that the most commonly prescribed treatments were deep breathing exercises (84 percent of the respondents), meditation (49 percent), yoga (23 percent), progressive muscle relaxation (20 percent) and guided imagery (14 percent). These numbers were similar to those who sought out the treatments on their own.

“For years and years this has been a patient-driven phenomenon,” Nerurkar says. As people discover what works best for themselves and loved ones, yoga studios, for instance, have popped up to fill a need that patients haven’t always discussed with their doctors.

So why are some physicians ready to hand out an Rx for a little “Om” time?

One reason may be the relatively recent body of research on how various mind-body treatments can be helpful, healthy additions to traditional treatment programs for certain conditions, including anxiety and depression, headaches, chronic pain, cardiac disease, insomnia and treatment-related symptoms of cancer, Nerurkar says.

The researchers also found that the patients who were seeking out mind-body treatments at the recommendation of a medical provider were those who typically had more diagnosed conditions and used the health-care system more often. Nerurkar says one reason that may be is that providers are referring their more complex patients once other treatments have failed — and this concept may lead to future research studies about what would happen if these complementary programs were offered earlier on in the treatment process.

Of course, not all complementary and alternative treatments have evidence behind them, Nerurkar points out. But when the research that is out there is coupled with patients’ success stories, some providers are opening up to the possibilities. “Ultimately you just want your patients to feel better,” she says. “At the end of the day, if my patients are using these therapies and they’re feeling good, I encourage them to do it.”

Here are some starting points for each of the mind-body treatments most commonly suggested by the medical community:

Deep breathing: Regular deep breathing — taking slow breaths in and out — has been linked to regulation of the cardiovascular and nervous systems and easing symptoms of anxiety, among other benefits. To start out a deep breathing exercise, focus on your breath coming in and out as it would normally and then begin deeper breaths, spending longer on inhalations and exhalations, according to the University of Rochester:

Breathe deeply and slowly, focusing all of your attention on each breath. Don’t rush it or breathe quickly. As you exhale naturally, allow any tension to leave you with the breath. Imagine the tension draining from your body and mind as you exhale. Notice the feeling of calm and relaxation that comes with exhalation.

Meditation: Studies have linked regular meditation to, among many other benefits, a decrease in fatigue and depression in multiple sclerosis patients, boosts in cellular health and a reduction in the severity of various mental and physical side effects from certain types of cancer treatment. Check out this primer for do-it-yourself meditation from the Mayo Clinic, or find a class near you.

Yoga: Of the many potential benefits of yoga, certain forms have been associated with improving recovery from breast cancer, lessening anxiety and counteracting fibromyalgia. Yoga has many different forms — you can practice poses alone, attend a local class or even do a yoga video at home.

Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique has been found to benefit people with Alzheimer’s disease, patients in the midst of cancer treatment, older people suffering from chronic pain and insomnia sufferers. The basic theory is to focus on groups of muscles in the body, often tensing them up, as you breathe in and then slowly relaxing them as you breathe out.

Guided imagery: Guided imagery has been associated with increased immunity and reduced feelings of depression. This process helps you to relax by taking you through a series of visualizations and direct suggestions, according to the Academy For Guided Imagery. You can find a certified instructor through the academy, practice guided imagery with a therapist or buy a tape to try the technique at home.

from:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/25/complementary-treatments_n_866555.html?utm_hp_ref=meditation

A Moment for Centering

Anne Hill

Author, Consultant, Radio Host, Public Speaker

Finding Wisdom in Your Place of Power

When the daily grind has ground you to dust, you can get your bearings and return to your soul by lifting your head and looking out to the horizon: to the east, the south, the west and the north.

Around you right now are the compass points of creation, the four sacred elements of life: air, fire, water, and earth. What lies in each direction from where you are right now?

From wherever you are, turn and face the East. Take three deep breaths and feel the power of the rising sun awaken in every cell in your body. Feel your mind open, and your sight clear. Give thanks for the power to discern, to listen, and to express yourself.

Turn to the South and take three deep breaths. From where you are right now, feel the fire of creativity, of sexuality. Let the heat of summer warm your blood and fill your heart. Give thanks for the power of connection, of passion, and the pure joy of being alive.

Now turn slowly and face the West. Let three cleansing breaths flow through you like healing waters. Feel the power of love and compassion surge through your body, mind, and soul. You are free, in this moment, to feel what you feel, and then to just let it go. Give thanks for power to merge, and to return again to yourself.

Finally, from where you are right now, turn and face the North. Breathe deeply three times, notice how the Earth smells here. Feel the solidity of your bones holding you up, feel the gravity that holds you close to this earth. Give thanks for your health, your body, your place in the circle of life on this precious planet.

You stand at the center of your own sacred circle. Your view to the horizon will change, you may find yourself in another hemisphere with different elements in each direction. But you will always be at the center of your own circle, your own life. May you be blessed, may you walk in beauty, may you always return to your place of power.

from:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-hill/gps-guide_b_1949449.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-for-the-soul&ir=GPS%20for%20the%20Soul