It is now believed that stress-related disorders account – either directly or indirectly – for 80 to 90 percent of all illnesses of the primary medical doctor visits . I personally, don’t know many people who are not stressed on some level, including myself, more often than we would like to be. I need to keep reminding myself that stress is caused by how we respond to a situation, not the situation itself. When we are faced with a stressful situation, in whatever form, it causes tension, strain and tightening in the body that does not release easily.
There are good ‘stresses’ that are important to our health: the excitement of our team winning, the surprise of seeing our loved ones, the joy that makes us feel like dancing. These reactions release positive nutrients in our body that keep us wanting to live. Another type of stress is the one that gets us to move quickly out of the way of a car or catch the falling child. We have all experienced these ‘quick’ stresses, and realize it often moves through our system quickly, once the situation passes. Often, once it is over, we take a deep breath and sigh on the exhale, releasing the tension in our body naturally. The repetitive, negative stresses, however, like worrying about our jobs, money, relationships, the constant mental loops of worry, anxiety, frustration, have a strong negative impact on our health.
One of the most powerful self-care tools we have is our breath. Deep, slow, gentle and smooth breaths, allowing our belly to expand on the inhale and relax back towards our spine on the exhale. We don’t have to push or struggle or force our breathing. Deep, slow, gentle and smooth and our body will naturally relax so the breath can be deeper without using our muscles. To facilitate a deep breath, we can try a couple of cleansing breaths: Inhale gently through our nose, then exhale gently and fully through our nose. At the end of the exhale, we open our mouth and blow out any more air that might be in the lungs. Then allow the next breath to be natural. If we can do these 2 or 3 times, it will help to clean out any stagnant air that has settled at the bottom of the lungs. Let’s be gentle with ourselves with all the Qi Gong techniques. There is no need to overdo or try, it all comes best with relaxation.
Another simple Qi Gong technique we can try as we are going to bed is to lie quietly on our backs, in bed right before going to sleep. Lie comfortably, softening the eyes so we are not focusing on anything. Soften the mind, not thinking about anything in particular, and bring the minds’ energy to the heart. Now place the hands over the heart and start whispering the sound haaaaaaaa as we gently exhale. As the quiet sound is made, allow the body to settle deeper into the bed. Slowly and gently make the sound over and over, relaxing more and more. We can close the eyes as we sink deeper into comfort and relaxation. Notice what sensations arise within the body. What do we feel, what thoughts and emotions arise, if any? Is there an area that has discomfort? And where does our body feel comfortable?
If you try this, please let me know if you have any questions and what results you have from this Qi Gong technique. One of my favorite self-care techniques is to relax, smile and laugh each day, taking a moment to notice how it makes me feel within my body. I always feel better. Enjoy!