TAKE A TIMEOUT

Rest, re­lax­ation and med­i­ta­tion re­lieve stress

201 Health - - News - WRIT­TEN BY JENNIFER L. NEL­SON

Rest, re­lax­ation and med­i­ta­tion re­lieve stress

Most peo­ple would be hard-pressed to find an ex­tra 10 min­utes in their day to drop ev­ery­thing, re­lax and stop men­tally run­ning through their todo list. And that’s why if there’s one prob­lem all Ber­gen County res­i­dents share, it’s prob­a­bly stress.

For cen­turies, med­i­ta­tion has proven ben­e­fi­cial in help­ing peo­ple man­age the stress that comes from daily liv­ing, whether it’s re­lated to pay­ing the bills or jug­gling the de­mands of work and fam­ily. In fact, ex­perts say carv­ing out just 10 min­utes can make all the dif­fer­ence.

“We live in such a fast-paced so­ci­ety where we’re al­ways try­ing to keep up and yet con­stantly feel­ing like we’re fall­ing be­hind,” says Shifu Ray­mond Ah­les of Blue Dragon School of Mar­tial Arts in Ber­gen­field. “This is very un­nat­u­ral and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. In sports, play­ers go all out and then need to sit and rest, so coaches call a timeout in an at­tempt to get things back in or­der, and in our ev­ery­day lives, we need the same ap­proach. Med­i­ta­tion is that timeout.”

THE HIS­TORY OF MED­I­TA­TION

Though there are many types of med­i­ta­tion, it is widely re­garded as a mind/body prac­tice de­rived from an­cient re­li­gious and spir­i­tual tra­di­tions. Camille I. Munro of Room to Breathe, a yoga, reiki and med­i­ta­tion stu­dio in Ho-Ho-Kus says, most cul­tures through­out his­tory have used med­i­ta­tion to en­hance their health and well-be­ing. In to­day’s world, med­i­ta­tion can be as sim­ple as de­vot­ing a few mo­ments each day to fo­cus your at­ten­tion and ex­pe­ri­ence phys­i­cal re­lax­ation, psy­cho­log­i­cal bal­ance, a sense of calm and even a con­nec­tion to the spir­i­tual world.

“If we give our­selves that much-needed few min­utes of re­cov­ery,” Ah­les says, “we can not only get things back into a man­age­able or­der but have a more ef­fi­cient ap­proach be­cause we’re com­ing from a place of clar­ity rather than chaos.”

Nitya Martino, cer­ti­fied struc­tural yoga ther­a­pist of Art & Soul Heal­ing Arts and yoga and stress man­age­ment in­struc­tor at The Val­ley Hos­pi­tal, says any­one can ease into med­i­ta­tion. You should be­gin by fo­cus­ing more closely on the ac­tiv­i­ties you al­ready find re­lax­ing, whether cook­ing, paint­ing or gar­den­ing, for ex­am­ple.

“You don’t have to over­think it,” Martino says. “If there’s al­ready some­thing you do that you find en­gross­ing, con­sider that a form of med­i­ta­tion. What­ever ac­tiv­ity helps con­nect you to the part of your­self that’s at peace, you can use that to be­gin your ex­plo­ration into med­i­ta­tion.”

THE BEN­E­FITS OF MED­I­TA­TION

While tak­ing the time to med­i­tate can help the aver­age per­son bal­ance their phys­i­cal, emo­tional and men­tal states – and feel more in con­trol of their stress lev­els – stud­ies have shown that reg­u­larly prac­tic­ing med­i­ta­tion also can help re­lieve phys­i­cal ail­ments, such as those re­lated to chronic pain or ill­ness. Other re­search has sug­gested that daily med­i­ta­tion can even help phys­i­cally shape the parts of the brain as­so­ci­ated with mem­ory, sense of self, em­pa­thy and stress, or lower the body’s lev­els of blood lac­tate to pre­vent anx­i­ety at­tacks and sta­bi­lize blood pres­sure.

“Peo­ple use med­i­ta­tion to ease anx­i­ety, pain, de­pres­sion, stress, in­som­nia and to cope with ill­nesses, such as heart dis­ease, di­a­betes and can­cer,” Munro says. “Med­i­ta­tion is also used to en­hance one’s over­all health and well-be­ing so they can en­joy life more fully.”

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