Live longer with Pat Henry: Search within
Learning to let go, finding your 'self' and practising a simple yoga exercise can be the ultimate stress busters
For quite a lot of people life often feels out of control, with a feeling of helplessness sweeping over us, causing serious anxiety and mental stress. This can happen particularly among young people where the pressure of life becomes too much to bear and all you want is the world to go away.
Depression and anxiety shows no comfort in success or wealth, it takes no prisoners. I remember working with a very famous Hollywood star who on the outside seemed to have it all - fame, wealth, great looks and the world at their feet - only to be affected by manic depression and anxiety where they felt that their heart was going to explode with nervous tension. It was so bad that they could not leave the house, when they chose the medical route.
For some it may be necessary, but it has been proven that medication can only cloud the problem. It might be worthwhile looking at the problem of mental stress from a holistic angle, and having worked as a yoga teacher and therapist for 20 years, using a different method showed remarkable improvement even to the extent of clients eventually getting off medication, with medical advice. It is important to learn to control stress when it strikes and not let stress take charge of your everyday life. You can become who you are meant to be as you let stress fall away with a stress-less exercise which is simple to perform, and finding self.
Firstly I am not talking about yourself but the SELF that is within. We are always searching for expression in our lives. This self shows continuous love, wisdom, knowledge and all good things in life. You could call this self God, as it says in the bible; the Kingdom of Heaven is within. It is talking about the energy self, or God in all of us, no matter what religion or colour we are. The more you search you become aware that this inner voice is there all the time. The trouble is that we are too busy to listen.
How to start finding SELF: The most effective way of finding self and reducing stress is to avoid conflict with your own mind. By trying too hard to solve a problem it seems to make things worse. There often seems to be a battle going on within your head, your mind works overtime and it can feel like your head is going to explode as the thoughts keep coming in like waves with no let-up.
To practise letting go, we need a little silence in our lives, especially when you awake in the morning - don't turn on the TV, radio or earphones, just stay quiet, even on the way to work by car, train or bus, practise being quiet and listening to your inner voice. It will eventually speak to you. Try this for a few days and you will feel the benefit.
The second important exercise to help you relax is called the corpse. Of all yoga exercises this is regarded as one of the most important to help you let go of stress by letting you go into a state of conscious where as you go into deeper levels you can experience total relaxation where you emerge even after 30 minutes with boundless energy, feeling refreshed and full of life. It can also improve your sleep patterns where you can have a really deep sleep with no interruptions and wake feeling refreshed.
Practise this at bedtime or anytime you have 30 minutes or less. The more you practise the deeper the levels you will experience and eventually you will be able to relax in the waking state especially when you get stressed.
So find a quiet space, use relaxing music if you feel it will help, not music you know because you will start thinking about the music.
THE CORPSE EXERCISE
1. Sit on the floor with knees bent towards chest, bend forward until your nose is between your knees.
2. Get a straight line and lower your legs out slowly as you roll back on to your elbows.
3. Look down and see if you are straight. Roll back until your head and shoulders are on the ground.
4. Look down and see if you are in line, if not straighten up.
5. Put your hands on your shoulders and lift your shoulders until they are on the ground.
6. Keep your head straight; put your hands by your side with the palms facing upwards.
7. Let your feet drop off to one side left and right - close your eyes.
8. Exhale and breathe gently, feeling your breath like a wave moving up and down your body.
9. In your mind start relaxing your feet, then calves, thighs, hips, shoulders, neck, arms, forehead, eyes, and mouth. Let your mouth hang open and as you exhale let all your thoughts just drift away. Don't try and hold on to your thoughts. Exhale and let all tension go out as you breathe, staying uninterrupted for at least 20 minutes.
When you want to come back to a wakened state just count one, two, three, gently open your eyes and sit up slowly. Don't suddenly jerk up as it will interfere with your relaxed state.
This exercise definitely works but you need practise. Try this for a few weeks and you will feel the difference in every area of your life, becoming calmer and more positive in your outlook. To remove years of conditioning takes time but let this new stress-free person emerge. The more you delve into your true level of consciousness you will begin to see we are living just an illusion, for reality is a state of being without thought.
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