Is taking a few minutes to relax really a luxury?
There is a personal trigger point where you know it’s time to take a break, take time off or just, divert your attention to being alone and quiet. We can escape the pressure and the fatigue of burnout by getting away from it all in any way you can wherever you are at the moment. Short meditations and mindfulness practices are excellent for this. But what if you are an active person, generally busy with life and something like an accidental fall or illness changes your life dramatically for a few weeks or months? How is it possible to relax under those conditions?
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Crashing into deep relaxation.
This blog post is about how deep relaxation profoundly changed my life. How an accidental fall lead me to find different techniques to relax with four fractures. And, manage the psychological injury of being knocked off my road bike. There were flashbacks. I was afraid for the future. And, feeling scared about the healing process. I was especially worried if my range of motion, strength and abilities would be changed when the bones from the fractures knitted together. Would I be ok? And, how long would it take to be mobile again? I was able to get in an out of bed but I was on my own, forced to fend for myself.
Science meets meditation.
I was just turning left, cycling down a bike lane three blocks from home. The sun was shining in my eyes and I tilted my head for just a moment to block out the glare. I didn’t notice another cyclist moving incredibly fast toward me. The precise moment I started to make the turn, we collided.
After three hours in a hospital emergency I was released with three broken ribs and one arm in a sling to support a cleanly snapped collar bone. I could feel my stress levels go up. I would be on my own and would have to manage, getting in and out of bed, eating with my less dominant hand and figuring out basic needs, how to shower, get dressed and how to approach navigating in my own space without further injuries.
Especially in the beginning, I had many sleepless nights managing pain and constantly in search of finding a comfortable position that avoided pain. And, each day I re-lived the accident in my mind.
I surfed the net looking for solutions and began looking at different deep relaxation techniques. But as I was scrolling through different scientific articles on meditation and healing, one scientific article stood out. This neuroscience [NASA] article dated 2010, described how elite athletes were able to improve performance without physical practice. It caught my attention. If it were possible to improve performance with visualization without physical practice, maybe this might work for someone injured unable to practice?
I decided to experiment with this idea. I used breath to place myself into a relaxed state and then, used my imagination to picture myself in excellent health, fully recovered in record time. Each day I tried to relax and allow my body to heal and step into that state of being completely recovered. In the meanwhile none of these ideas or meditations interfered with prescribed therapies or treatments. The intention was purely to learn how to relax deeply for stress management and to aid the body to deeply rest and heal itself.
After one week my collar bone had joined successfully with a callous plug. And, I was told there was a 90 percent chance it would heal naturally. At week 3, I was able to go for walks up to a mile. At week 6, I was in a swimming pool letting my arm drag in the water, building muscle in my arm with the water’s resistance. I also used a kick board to support my weight as I kicked and propelled myself forward. Week 7, I lifted my arm over my head and watched it flop into the water, making a very limp crawl stroke. [My three broken ribs still ached and I could hear my collar bone “click” but I kept going]. By week 8, I was able to swim 800 metres crawl stroke [very slowly] and was strong enough to return to work.
I experienced incredible results with visual meditations, mindfulness and repetitive movements. My recovery was accelerated [ 4 fractures[ collar bone and three ribs] in 8 weeks] , the same time frame expected for a child. My attending physician / specialist and interns were baffled by my recovery results. It bent expected norms and challenged beliefs about what was possible for someone older. But, I know from my own experience with this athletic performance technique, it can work for many objectives, not just physical but also mental, stepping into a new state of wellness and being. This can have profound impact on your recovery time and shift your energy productively towards accelerated healing.
But, you don’t need to have an injury or illness to benefit from meditation and deep relaxation.
The path to High Performance states.
Deep relaxation can also be used to improve your ability to focus, to manage stress levels and to shift the body into a high performance state. It also allows the body to rest deeply, which has a rejuvenation effect [ including scientifically shown to turn-off wrinkle genes]. Neuroscience supports that we can shift our state of mind and well-being through deep relaxation. Plus, it is possible to achieve these states in smaller time frames and still produce excellent results.
Breaking strongholds. The healing factor.
I literally crashed into deep relaxation and it was life changing for me. It can protect your psychological health because it creates a zone of peace with continued practice. Manage your fear of the future, take down the strongholds of distraction with improved focus and allow your mind body and spirit to heal, thrive and excel with different approaches to deep relaxation. Finding your place of deep rest is a brilliant skill that spills over into many areas of life. Your mind. Your body. And, strengthens the connection to your inner guidance and the God particle within you.
One minute visualization experiment.
Here is a simple idea to test out now.
Set a timer on your phone for one minute. Close your eyes and imagine an apple. What colour is it? Can you smell it? Do you have a memory of yourself with an apple? Are you picking apples in an orchard? Or visiting a farmer’s market and seeing your parents buy a crate of apples?
You have just stepped into a type of relaxation using visualization. Let your imagination paint pictures and bring you peace. Just small escapes will allow the mind to re-set itself even when you are under a lot of personal stress.
You are not “running away” from life. You are bringing the energy of happiness into your life, when it is needed.
Happiness is the art of relaxation.
Breathe. A passage into deep relaxation.
“In spiritus”, the place of breathing softly, deeply. Is a place of inner peace and calm.
Many describe this as a natural passage into deep relaxation. But there are many layers to its unfolding. Especially when we have been tense for a long time, under a lot of stress or maybe, when we are recovering from an injury or a strenuous workout.
Use your breath to tap into how you are feeling at the moment. It brings your awareness and mindfulness, into the present moment. It brings back energy that is being siphoned off by your attention being placed on other things outside yourself.
You can use methods such as following the movement of the air in and out of your lungs to relax. You can use counting to monitor the length of time breathing in and do the same as you exhale. Or cover one nostril and breathing in through the other and exhale through your mouth, then change sides. So many techniques to try. But the best one is what is what is natural or most comfortable to you. The one that makes you feel relaxed and works with your own energy.
Deep relaxation gets moving.
Movement might seem contrary to deep relaxation but it isn’t. For those who find sitting still hard, repetitive movements are a perfect way to explore “the peace zone”.
Consider walking as a form of meditation and deep relaxation. Take one step and focus on something about that step. Your toes gripping the ground, the pressure on the bottom of your foot. The movement of your leg and the muscles in your leg. Once you notice something about that step, take another step. Then, another.
As you walk you will notice that the outside distractions fall away and the mental chatter starts to become less noisy. You become fully present in each step. Eventually, you will be able to enter into a space that is very peaceful and calm. Perhaps, you will feel a noticeable shift, a mental click, I call “the bliss zone” where there are no worries or demands on you except taking that next step. For a few minutes or moments, you have given your mind, body and spirit a reprieve from the stress, any fears and doubts that rob you of energy. This is deep relaxation, moving.
My path to deep relaxation arrived by cycling accident. But it doesn’t have to be as dramatic for you. Shifting from being distracted and stressed to a more relaxed one can happen with with a few minutes a day experimenting with deep relaxation. It can be with sound, nature, visualization , mindfulness, meditation and when you are moving with repetitive movements. Protect yourself from being drained and vulnerable to overwhelm, flooded by distractions and stress. Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference and inspire you to learn more about your own unique and personal “zone of peace”.
May the luxury to relax be yours today and every day.
Deep relaxation in less time.
Step into a high performance state.
Get the benefits of nature therapy with visual meditations.
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