I enjoyed this NPR article Just Breathe: The Body Has a Built in Stress Reliever.
Here are some highlights:
- “As it turns out, deep breathing is not only relaxing, it’s been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes.”
- “…breathing can have a profound impact on our physiology and our health.”
- ‘Our breaths will either wake us up or energize us. It will relax us, or it will just balance us’…
- “Research has shown that breathing exercises like these (see article) can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or changing blood pressure.”
- “But more importantly, they can be used as a method to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones”
- “She says rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. It’s part of the “fight or flight” response — the part activated by stress. In contrast, slow, deep breathing actually stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction — the one that calms us down.”
- “Research shows that breathing can even change the expression of genes. He says that by using your breath, you can alter the basic activity of your cells with your mind.”
- “What’s happening when you’re stressed is that your own body is giving itself multiple shots of that anti-inflammatory hormone, and so that tunes down your immune system’s ability to do its job to fight infection,” Sternberg says.
Check out this NY Times article When the Mind Wanders, Happiness Also Strays.
Here are some highlights:
- “I find it kind of weird now to look down a crowded street and realize that half the people aren’t really there,” Dr. Gilbert says.
- Whatever people were doing, whether it was having sex or reading or shopping, they tended to be happier if they focused on the activity instead of thinking about something else.
- In fact, whether and where their minds wandered was a better predictor of happiness than what they were doing.
- “If you ask people to imagine winning the lottery,” Dr. Gilbert says, “they typically talk about the things they would do — ‘I’d go to Italy, I’d buy a boat, I’d lay on the beach’ — and they rarely mention the things they would think. But our data suggest that the location of the body is much less important than the location of the mind, and that the former has surprisingly little influence on the latter. The heart goes where the head takes it, and neither cares much about the whereabouts of the feet.”
- “We see evidence for mind-wandering causing unhappiness, but no evidence for unhappiness causing mind-wandering,”
- There are times, of course, when unpleasant thoughts are the most useful thoughts. “Happiness in the moment is not the only reason to do something,” says Jonathan Schooler, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research has shown that mind-wandering can lead people to creative solutions of problems, which could make them happier in the long term.
- Over the several months of the study, the more frequent mind-wanderers remained less happy than the rest.
“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African proverb
I think of this quote with clients all the time, because it seems that our common tendency is to look outside ourselves and blame “the other” for our anger, frustration, sadness, fear etc. Whereas in truth, people and situations simply trigger these deeper parts of us boil over.
When we clear out our “inner volcano” we can find our deeper sense of grounded calm and strength.
So when an “enemy” comes at us with something that would normally trigger our own internal “eruption”, we have nothing left to erupt, and we stay cool as a cucumber! 😉
Whenever you are ready to empty your volcano here’s how to find me…