MASTERY--"The art of remaining flexible enough to adjust to a changing
environment, while continuing to access positive resources." P. Vitale
Would you be interested in gaining some mastery over your life by
learning how to control your nervous system and just relax? After all,
when you are relaxed life just seems much easier, and our creativity
and energy flows more easily doesn't it?
exactly is relaxation? When I talk about relaxation it is certainly
different than curling up with a good book or watching television.
Although we call activities relaxation, the mind is still in an active
state when performing them. If an EEG (brain wave measurement) was
performed on a person reading a book or watching television or other
"relaxing activity", the electrical activity would demonstrate what is
known as beta rhythm - an active state of concentration. In what I
like to call "deep relaxation", that rhythm shifts from a beta rhythm
to an alpha rhythm. In order to shift that rhythm in the brain you
must turn off the adrenalin pumping nervous system and turn on the
relaxation response. You can do this by learning meditation,
self-hypnosis, progressive relaxation, or some other technique where a
trance-like, inwardly focused state is produced. One of the common
elements here is that thoughts are slowed down, and are less
intrusive, and the mind and body rest. The alpha rhythm predominates.
This is a state that can be easily learned.
People often ask me what the difference is between meditation,
hypnosis, and deep relaxation. They are all similar in the sense that
they access and turn on the parasympathetic nervous system or
relaxation response. Meditation differs from the others in that its
intent is usually some kind of transcendental or spiritual experience.
In hypnosis too, there is often an intention that is different from
"just relaxation", although both self-hypnosis and meditation can be
used to deeply relax. In hypnosis there may be a particular purpose
other than simply relaxing, such as increased confidence, increased
self-esteem, freedom from fears, phobias, pain and so on. However, the
actual relaxation states that are accessed in all of these ways are
very similar, as measured by brain wave activity.
you decide to start a relaxation program of some kind, whether it is
meditation, self-hypnosis or some other kind of program, it is
important to prepare yourself by finding a comfortable place, a chair,
a bed, and make sure as much as possible that you are not going to be
disturbed during this time. If you can unplug the phone do so. If you
need to let people in your family know that you are "doing relaxation"
and don't want to be disturbed, then do that too. Prepare your
conscious mind by telling yourself that you can put away any thoughts
of worry, future concerns or past memories for the time being, and if
necessary return to them later.
Copyright Stress is partly caused by paying attention to thoughts, moving from
one thought to another, or focusing on thoughts way too much.
Typically we call this worry. When you are learning deep relaxation
imagine that thoughts can just float on by, and that you can detach
from any meaning that they might have. All relaxation approaches will
ask you to focus your attention passively, that is just by noticing,
on your breath for example, or certain images, or to focus on certain
phrases that you say to yourself. It is important that as soon as you
notice that you have strayed from that particular focus of attention
that you simply come back to it, without criticizing yourself for
having wondered away from it. This is why it is called meditation
practice, or relaxation practice. If we were perfect at it, we would
not need to practice! Think of your focus of attention as being like
an automatic pilot -- an automatic pilot works by detecting that an
object is off course and then bringing it back on course. If you are
focusing your attention on your breath, for example, and you notice
that you are thinking a thought, -- just bring yourself back to your
breathing. If you are using a phrase, image, or mantra in the case of
some meditation practises, just bring your mind gently back to that
focus. Most people find, and are often surprised at, how easy this is
once you let go of the idea that somehow you have to make it happen.
Unlike what we have usually been taught, the less you try the more
likely it is to happen. When you are finished allow yourself to rise
up slowly, sometimes people feel a little disoriented and maybe a
little light-headed after they rouse themselves up from a deep
relaxation. Just allow yourself a few minutes before you go about your
business, and thank yourself for taking this time to relax.
There are many benefits to regular relaxation practice. Whatever
program you decide to use, you will begin to notice changes within a
few weeks of your commencement of regular practice. By doing this you
are instructing your unconscious mind to turn on the relaxation
response. Now, the unconscious mind is very smart - after all when you
think about it, the unconscious mind controls many complex tasks for
you during the day such as driving, cooking, walking, and
multi-tasking, as well as controlling those tasks totally outside your
awareness such as heart rate and blood pressure. But the unconscious
mind is a habit mind. It will keep doing the same things over and over
again until you instruct it otherwise. Relaxation teaches the
unconscious to respond differently to stressful situations, and even
after you have finished meditating it retains that response.
don't take my word for it. Access the many tapes, CDs, classes and
information on relaxation and try them out. It was through my interest
in autogenic training and hypnosis that I developed the CD "Learn to
Unwind and Enjoy Your Life" that can be found on my website.
Naturally, I particularly recommend that CD as a simple way to learn
to unwind and enjoy your life!
Edward Leyton MD 2007 ©Accessing Resources for Empowerment™ 2007
Dr. Edward Leyton practiced as a holistic family physician from 1978
• From 1990 to the present he has practiced Integrative Functional
Medicine on a consultation basis using his expertise in the
biochemistry of nutrition and metabolism as well as his training in
psychotherapy, NLP, and hypnosis. His approach follows the paradigm of
Functional Medicine as taught by Dr, Jeffery Bland, as well as his own
emphasis on behaviour and lifestyle change using NLP and hypnosis.
• His Clinic is not an 'alternative' to orthodox treatments, but
combines the best of both orthodox and complementary therapies. The
latter include nutrition, stress reduction, exercise, and replacement
of unhealthy behaviours with health enhancing behaviours. Nutrition,
herbs, supplements, massage, homeopathy, acupuncture, relaxation and
psychotherapy may all be used in his treatment approach.
• Adjunct Faculty Dept. Family Medicine Queens University, Kingston,
• Medical Consultant: Ste. Anne's Spa & Inn, Grafton, ON
• Says Dr. Leyton: "I help to move people towards positive aspects of
wellness as well as away from the negative aspects of illness. Some of
the problems I work with include: anxiety, asthma, allergies, cancer,
Candida, chronic fatigue syndrome, compulsions, depression, eczema,
fibromyalgia, food intolerance, headaches, irritable bowel disease,
migraines, panic attacks, parasites, and others."
"Learn to Unwind and Enjoy Your Life" CD and MP3 downloads can be
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