The relaxation response
How to combat stress with one simple concept – ‘eyes closed silence’.
The ever increasing demands on our time day-to-day are taking their toll on our health. Life is moving forward at an unrelenting pace and the average Australian is experiencing alarmingly high levels of stress.
Whilst workplace stress alone is impacting the economy, perhaps the greatest price we are paying is the diminishing quality of our daily life experience and general wellbeing.
As a professional meditation teacher I see clients from all walks of life, ranging from CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, tradespeople, artists, teachers, medical professionals, mums and dads. What I have observed is that everyone is experiencing the same thing - stress.
Some of the general symptoms of stress are:
• Constantly feeling anxious and worried
• Feeling irritable, agitated and easily annoyed
• Argumentative and defensive with friends and family
• Restless sleeping
• Low levels of energy, often waking up feeling tired
• Restless and frenetic mind
• Often self critical and or critical of others.
• Feeling flat and uninspired
• Having difficulty concentrating
• Skin rashes and conditions
• Clenching your jaw muscles and grinding your teeth at night
• Headaches and migraines
Stress is held in the body and over a prolonged period of time can manifest as a variety of illnesses and conditions. When we are stressed and fatigued we are a shadow of our authentic selves. We lack energy and enthusiasm and we aren’t terribly inspiring to be around.
Fortunately this has not gone unnoticed in the medical and scientific world. An enormous amount of research has been conducted over the last decade to fully explore and understand the effects of stress and its impact on the body and mind, along with effective ways to combat it.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence to suggest that the ancient practice of eyes closed silence is an effective way to gain the sufficient rest the body requires to relieve stress.
Eyes closed silence refers to any mental process including the most common practices of meditation, prayer, observance of the breath and contemplation that induces a set of integrated psychophysiological changes termed as the ‘relaxation response’.
The relaxation response is a measurable change in the mind and body that deactivates the stress response and enables the body to rapidly repair from its negative effects.
Some of the measurable changes within the relaxation response include:
• Higher brain functioning
• Increased immune function
• Lowered blood pressure
• Lowered heart rate
Psychological changes observed in the relaxation response are:
• Increased awareness
• Increased attention/focus
• Increased clarity in thinking and perception
• Lowered anxiety levels
• Experience of being calm and internally still
• Experience of feeling connected
Regularly practicing eyes closed silence has been demonstrated to significantly assist the restoration of the mind and body to their normal functioning states. In our unstressed state we are happy, healthy, vital, enthusiastic and inspired; capable of responding to life’s challenges and demands with grace and ease.
If you are experiencing stress in your life and want to make a change, eyes closed silence may be an effective technique to provide you relief from stress.