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The ANTIDOTE to stress!

by | Dec 21, 2015 | Mindfulness | 0 comments

The relaxation response, discovered by the inspirational author and Harvard cardiologist, Dr. Herbert Benson, M.D., represents a hard-wired antidote to the fight or flight response. The relaxation response is a set of integrated physiological changes that are elicited when you engage in a repetitive mental activity while being mindful. The relaxation response corresponds to a physical portion of the brain (located in the hypothalamus) which, when triggered, sends out neuro-chemicals that almost precisely counteract the hyper-vigilant response of the fight or flight response.
When we follow the simple steps necessary to elicit the relaxation response, we can predictably measure its benefits in the body.
These include:
  • a decrease in blood pressure,
  • diminished respiratory rate,
  • lower pulse rate,
  • diminished oxygen consumption,
  • increase in alpha brain waves (associated with relaxation), and in many cases,
  • an improved sense of mental and physical well being.
The relaxation response is widely used to treat a wide variety of medical disorders that are caused or exacerbated by sympathetic nervous system arousal, including hypertension(1), headaches (2), anxiety and pain in people undergoing stressful medical procedures (3), premenstrual syndrome (4), insomnia (5) and infertility (6).
Eliciting the relaxation response is a core component of the Mindful Fertility process and has profound effects on fertility and overall health.
There are many ways to elicit the relaxation response and we include all of them in the Mindful Fertility Journal:
a. Meditation
b. Body Scan
c. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
d. Autogenic Training
e. Imagery
f.  Mindfulness
Today I want to teach you a simple autogenic exercise that you can use anytime.
Slowly and silently repeat the following phrases to yourself as you read them here. Repeat each phrase two to four times, pausing a few seconds between each repetition.
I am beginning to feel quite quiet…
I am beginning to feel relaxed…
My feet, knees and hips feel heavy…
Heaviness and warmth are flowing through my feet and legs…
My pelvis, reproductive organs, ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes feel relaxed and warm….
Warmth and relaxation are flowing through my ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes…
My hands, arms and shoulders feel heavy…
Warmth and heaviness are flowing through my hands and arms…
My neck, jaw, tongue and forehead feel relaxed and smooth…
My whole body feels quiet, heavy and comfortable…
I am comfortably relaxed…
Warmth and heaviness flow into my arms, hands and fingertips…
My breathing is slow and regular…
I am aware of my calm, regular heartbeat…
My mind is becoming quieter as I focus inward…
I feel still…
Deep in my mind I experience myself as relaxed, comfortable and still…
I am alert in a quiet, inward way…
As I finish my relaxation, I take in several re-energizing breaths, bringing light and energy into my reproductive organs, into my hypothalamus, into every cell of my body.
Autogenic training is a simple and profound technique. When you use the phrases with a relaxed, receptive mind your peripheral circulation increases and cardiac and respiratory rates and rhythms begin to slow and stabilize.
To elicit the relaxation response:
1. It is much easier when you practice in the SAME PLACE each day. Try reserving that place for your relaxation; you will find that you will start to relax simply by sitting there. Make sure that your phone is unplugged, the door is closed, and your pets are absent (pets are strangely attracted to a relaxed person!).
2. It is also easier to elicit the relaxation response at the SAME TIME(S) each day. This helps make it a habit.
3. If you exercise regularly, try eliciting the relaxation response IMMEDIATELY AFTER YOU EXERCISE, the sense of deep relaxation should come more easily.
4. Try not to elicit the relaxation response either when you are very hungry or when you are full. Try having a glass of juice or a piece of fruit if you are hungry before sitting down. Wait a few hours after a full meal.
5. I strongly advise eliciting the relaxation response TWICE A DAY FOR 20 MINUTES each session. If you simply cannot fit in a session, try focusing on your breath for even five minutes. Other important times to elicit the relaxation response:
a. Before and after you take a pregnancy test
b. Before and after a transfer
c. While waiting in your doctor’s waiting room
d. When someone says something that bother’s you
e. Before and after you make love
f. When you feel overwhelmed
g. When in pain
1. Benson, Rosner, Marietta, & Klemchuk, 1974
2. Benson, Klemchuck, & Graham, 1974
3. Mandle et al, 1990
4. Goodale, Domar, & Benson, 1990
5. Jacobs, Benson, & Friedman, 1993
6. Domar, Seibel, & Benson, 1990
All my very best, always,

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