Just Relax. What does it mean to relax, to unwind, to take a load off?
These words may mean different things to everyone who reads them. What comes to mind when you see the word relax? Unwind? Or the phrase “take a load off”? or “kick back”?
We all have some understanding of these words, and some awareness of relaxing, letting go, or unwinding. Often, these words get associated with one more things we are supposed to do, or get done.
Societies have created sporting events, vacations, entertainment events, and pastimes that cost money, and that most people are willing trade their time, labor or knowledge (or all three) in exchange for what only amounts to more stimulation.
We have bought into socially acceptable habits sold on the promise of bringing relaxation and the sense of taking a load off. Many of these only bring more stress and the eventual decline of the body and mind.
All this in an ineffective attempt to find relaxation, to unwind, or let go of stress. People find themselves running in all directions to have another experience they hope will bring them some peace of mind, some calm, the sensation of relaxation.
So how can we achieve a true state of relaxation without rushing about trying to get it, or spending large sums of money to pay for those experiences we relate to this state?
Step one is to recognize what it really means to relax, and its benefits. Many people have been so stimulated all of their life by their lifestyle and environment that they have no idea what a relaxed state feels like.
Even the sleep they experience is disturbed, and daily life is full of stress, challenge, and ‘putting out fires’ or adrenaline rushes. Society says go get more stimulation and spend your hard earned money on things, substances, foods, entertainment, experiences, and toys to relax, unwind, let go, have fun, forget the stress.
While this approach is still regularly taken by millions of people, it is becoming more and more clear that it is not working. People are sicker, more stressed, more in debt, and more strung out than ever before. More children are becoming chronically ill every day.
As people begin to look for alternatives to drugs and surgery to get well, they are also beginning to look for alternatives to ball games and booze for relaxation. Eventually, they will find they have been carrying the most powerful relaxation tool and method around with them all of their life.
Do you know what it is?
Take a deep breath, a really deep breath, fill your lungs and feel your chest expand. Take in as much air as you can, and as you exhale slowly, feel your body and mind
Take ten breaths just like that and you may fall right off to sleep.
Our breath is the most powerful and effective relaxation tool around.
What benefits will one receive by relaxing through the breath?
What happens when we actually experience relaxation?
The nervous system is able to shut-down, or turn off the fight or flight state created by the stress and over stimulation of the fast-paced, neon-light life we so often find ourselves living today.
The nervous system can then tune up the automatic controls, bring heart rate, digestion, cell production, and maintenance protocols back on line, and start the process of repair from the effects of long-term stress on the body.
When the body is able to function with a nervous system that is in a state of relaxation; repair and regeneration take place easily.
When the body is forced to function in a state of stress, repair and regeneration become difficult or even impossible, and the body may begin to experience rapid degeneration, and disease.
Breath is one of the things we do not actually have to think about, our body just does it for us. Like digestion, heart rate, temperature control, cell regeneration and repair, our respiration is under automatic control. What a gift!
However, unlike trying to control cell division with our thoughts, we can easily control and see the effect of that control on our breath. When we consciously take a breath, a number of things happen that alter our experience. Physiologically, mentally, and emotionally, our being responds to our breath.
Not only does the obvious event of lungs filling with air provide a greater exchange of oxygen for carbon monoxide in the blood, a cascade of other positive events also take place from your deep breath.
The fight or flight response shuts off, cortisol and adrenaline are no longer produced and released by the adrenal glands to give you excess energy to handle the stress, while at the same time giving you more stress (yes, a viscous cycle).
The endocrine system gets the message to produce and release hormones that allow you to feel relaxed, peaceful, calm.
As this takes place naturally, with your breath, rather than with a substitute or substance, the other benefits begin.
Cell repair starts in all organs, the message that all can rest and repair comes down from the nervous system, or control center, and the body can experience healing.
As healing continues, the positive cycle begins, and more moments to breathe are taken, more moments of a calm, relaxed state are achieved and the mind begins to benefit from the experience of clarity, quietness, stillness, and peace.
As the mind remains calm and clear, the benefits continue, and one experiences a heart opening that brings compassion, understanding, and objectivity. All this works together to provide more peace and calm, and encourages one to seek more of the positive cycle of relaxation and repair once experienced.
So, sit back, smile, and take another deep breath!
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