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Senior Fitness and Wellness Articles of Interest:

Our Destiny Involves Each of Us Taking Responsibility for Our Own Health   

Nurturing the Mind-Body Connection Through Relaxation  

The Facts Behind Aging - Nutrition   

How to Recession Proof Your Health   

EPA Fish Oil Supplements:An In Depth Analysis of What Works and What Doesn't in Omega 3's   

Qigong for Health and Longevity   

Sleep and Health in Our Busy Lives   

Smoking Your Way to Premature Aging and Death 

Staying Younger Through Lifelong Learning

Staying Younger Through Lifelong Learning Page #2   

Social Ties May Delay Your Memory Loss

Get the Heart Pumping    

Anti Aging Foods - 3 Tips For Feeling and Looking Better    

2 More Tips for Looking and Feeling Better   

Exercise and Live

Anti Aging and Prevention Page #1

Anti Aging and Prevention Page #2    

Anti Aging and Eating: Top 10 Rules 

Senior Articles of Interest:

Alzheimer's Disease

Cancer: A Death Sentence for the Elderly?

Depression among the Elderly

Community Agencies and Resources: St. Louis, Missouri

Health Insurance 101 for Senior Citizens 

Long term care insurance: What is it really?

Medical Conditions and Information for the Elderly

Medicare: How will it help me?

Medicaid Program: What do I need to know?

Medication Information for the Elderly

Nursing Homes: What critical information should I know?

Personal Safety for Grandma and Grandpa

Prescription Medication: You have to get it right

Social Security: Can I get it now?

Senior Housing Options

Senior Care Psychological Consulting

Web Site Map

Senior Fitness Help Online at Amazon




                              Nurturing the Mind-Body Connection Through Relaxation
By Edward Leyton M.D.

LIFE MASTERY--"The art of remaining flexible enough to adjust to a changing environment, while continuing to access positive resources." P. Vitale 1996

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?

What 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.

When 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.

But 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
9/02/07• Dr. Edward Leyton practiced as a holistic family physician from 1978 to 1990.
• 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, ON
• 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 found at
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Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate                                      

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