Thursday, November 24, 2005

How Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better

The amount of physical activity that you expend during the day is a key ingredient to helping you sleep restfully at night. The more active your body is during the day the more likely you are able to relax fully at night and fall asleep easily.
With regular exercise your sleep quality is improved and the transition between the cycles and phases of sleep becomes smoother and more regular. Keeping up your physical activity during the day may also be help you deal with the stress and worry in your life.
Studies indicate that there is a direct correlation between how much we exercise and how we feel both emotionally and physically by changes in our brain chemistry that occur from regular exercise.
Try to increase your physical daily activity during the day. The goal here is to give your body enough stimulation during the day so that you are not restless at night.
Our bodies require a certain amount of physical activity in order to function in a healthy manner. It is important to note that you should not be exercising three to four hours before bed.
The ideal time for you to exercise is in the late afternoon or early evening. You want to expend your physical energy long before it is time for your body to rest and ready itself for sleep.
Attempt to exercise at least three to four times a week for a continuous period of 20 to 30 minutes. This can include something as simple as walking or something as strenuous as running.
The goal is to increase your heart rate and strengthen your lung capacity. Adding a regular exercise activity to your daily schedule will improve your overall health and benefit you emotionally. This is can help promote a natural remedy for your sleeplessness.
Besides walking and running there are many physical activities that you can add to your life to increase your activity level. Aerobic exercises seem to work best to battle sleeplessness.
Your goal is to increase the amount of oxygen that reaches your blood. There are many types of aerobic activities to choose from. These include running, biking, using a treadmill, jumping rope, and dancing.
Some non-aerobic activities may be beneficial to you as you attempt to solve your insomnia problem. The following activities are relaxing and have other healing properties:
- Yoga has a stimulatory effect on your nervous system, particularly the brain. Yoga uses breathing techniques and yoga postures to increase blood circulation to the brain centre, promoting regular and restful sleeping patterns. Regular practice of yoga will relax you as well as relieve stress and tension.
- Tai Chi is a form of breathing and movement that was developed by ancient Chinese monks. The movements involved in Tai Chi are precise and slow, which is ideal if you have joint pain or are unable to participate in high impact aerobic exercises. Studies have shown that Tai Chi may help people with insomnia by promoting relaxation.
If you find that you have no time to exercise on a regular basis try sneaking extra moments of activity into your daily schedule. Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
Try parking your car around the corner and walking that extra block to your appointment. There are many small ways that you can incorporate some added activity into your life. Your goal is to have a healthy, well balanced life...
About The Author
George Lesco
Taken from the report http://www.SimpleSleepingSecrets.com. Discover Why Almost Everyone is Dead Wrong About Sleeping Disorders - Including How to Sleep Like a Baby Every Night For the Rest of Your Life - Without Using Expensive or Dangerous Drugs. Send a blank email to http://www.SimpleSleepingSecrets.com/tips.html to receive free tips by email.

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Stress Relief and Relaxation Secrets You Can Use Today

You may not even realise that stress is taking a toll on you every day and if you don’t get a handle on it, you are in big trouble.
There are a huge number of factors that lead to elevated stress levels, including seventy hour work weeks, crazy commutes, Motorway gridlock, unnecessary queues, unpaid bills, endless family demands, too much to do and too little time.
There are some pretty powerful resources that you can put to work to help you combat stress. You’ll probably be amazed at how simple some of them are.
Introduction
A recent study found that 90% of doctor visits are for stress related symptoms?
Stress bombards us every day from all directions. Maybe it’s sitting in the midst of Motorway gridlock when you are already late for an important appointment. Or how about the bill you forgot to pay? It could be a phone call from the school complaining about your child’s behaviour.
These are just the annoying little stress triggers that we handle every day.
There’s a whole arsenal of stress busting tools available that we will discuss here. Hopefully, the more you understand your stress, the better prepared you are at controlling your body’s response to stress and restoration to a calmer state of mind.
More information, including a stress test, plus more comprehensive explanations can be found in the 5 part course, details of which can be found at the end of the article.
What is Stress?
Chemically, stress is a condition that your body enters as the result of a message received from your brain telling it to prepare to run or fight.
How to control Stress
What’s causing your stress?
A slow build up of everyday annoyances: a dead car battery, traffic jam, buttons that pop off your clothes as you are going to an important meeting?
It’s the little things that get under your skin. Is it a tight schedule and seemingly insurmountable problems? Are there Bills to pay, a boss to please, a colicky baby to pacify?
Juggling many roles is a main cause of stress.
What you need to do is relax.
Keys to stress reduction 1 – 4
1 Breathe deeply.
Relax your muscles, expanding your stomach and chest. Exhale slowly. Repeat several times.
Follow your breath as it flows in and out. Do not try to control it. This is a good way to relax in the midst of any activity. This technique allows you to find a breathing pattern that is natural and relaxing to you.
2 Exercise regularly.
Aerobic exercise, such as walking and swimming, produces brain chemicals that uplift your mood and mental well-being.
Exercise also improves sleep and gives you time to think and focus on other things. However, beware of compulsive exercise.
3 Eat healthy foods.
You should never skip meals. Take time out for lunch no matter how busy you are.
Carry nutritious snacks to the office, or even the shopping centre. A nutritionally balanced diet is important.
4 Don’t let others get you down.
Choose positive friends who are not worriers. Friends who constantly put you down or talk gloomily about life will increase your anxiety.
Ask a good friend to help you talk out a problem and get it off your chest. A long-distance call to an old pal can be great therapy.
A further 8 simple keys are included in the 5 part course, details of which can be found at the end of the article.
Final Thoughts
Let’s review some of what you have learned about stress.
Steel will snap from it and a pressure cooker will blow its lid. Stress, pressure and tension is a fact of everyday life for most of us.
Remember that it puts you at risk for heart attack, stroke, insomnia, backache, headache, irritable bowel syndrome, sports injuries and infertility.
With your health at stake, using some of the methods we have discussed is essential.
It’s also important that you remember that stress is a physiological response. It isn’t all in your head! You owe it to yourself to take the time to use the stress-reducing techniques on a daily basis.
This article was written by Judy McGuire, the founder of Health and Fitness 4 Me. Judy has expertise and specialist knowledge which can help you to lead a full and active lifestyle. For a copy of the full report: http://www.hf4mestress @ getresponse.com Additional reviews on stress management and stress relief. http://www.hf4mestress.com Health and Fitness 4 Me - Bringing You the Latest Health and Fitness Information, Tips and Secrets on a regular basis! Tell your family and friends, pass on valuable information. To subscribe, send a blank email to: hf4me_ezine@getresponse.com

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Beginning Meditation

In its’ simplest description, meditation can be described as a process of quieting your mind so that you can come into contact with quiet and peace that is always available to you inside.

A regular practice of meditation offers many benefits including: overall stress reduction, activation of the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response), clearer thinking, more creative thinking, helps to quiet the mind, fosters an increased sense of peace and contentment, helps to balance the emotions, provides a connection to your Spirit. An ongoing practice of meditation also helps to provide a context for observing thinking patterns and emotions as well as an opportunity to cultivate peace and relaxation. Hundreds of modern research studies now confirm what the yogis new 5000 years ago!

There are various ways to meditate and they usually involve as point of focus such as your breath, a mantra or visualization. A variety of techniques are explained below.

Before you try them there are a few guidelines that are helpful to be aware of. The first has to do with time and place. It is ideal to meditate at the same time and the same place each time you meditate. In this way you create an association of meditating and peacefulness with the space you have chosen. Each time you come back to this space, you will anticipate the experience of meditation. Additionally, by using the same time and space, you will be developing a habit. This is important to nurture as the consistency of your practice is most important, even if it is just ten minutes a day. Dawn and dusk are traditional times to meditate, but anytime can work. Begin with ten to twenty minutes and work up to forty-five minutes if possible.

Another consideration regarding time is knowing when to stop. Some people just let their inner clock guide them while others prefer to use and alarm clock so they don’t have to be concerned about the time. If you practice regularly, you will most likely find that your sense of time becomes exquisite, and you will automatically know when it is time to stop meditating.

A comfortable and stable sitting position is also important. The classic meditation posture is the lotus position. The reason for this is that is quite stable and the spine held erect. However most people in the West are not comfortable in this position. The truth is that any stable seated posture can work – even sitting in a chair. Placing a folded blanket or meditation cushion under your sitz bones also makes sitting more comfortable. Some people find that their back muscles aren’t strong enough and begin to ache when they sit in one position for more than a few minutes. If this is happening to you then sit near a wall and when you feel you can no longer hold your back upright comfortably then move against the wall and you will get the support you need. Whichever way you chose to sit just make sure it is stable, comfortable, and that your head neck and spine are in one line, and erect.

As you begin meditate it is common to have any or all of the following experiences:

1.You mind wonders. This is quite natural and expected. Just bring yourself back to your point of focus.

2.You are not sure if you are doing it right. You are most likely doing it right. Meditation is pretty simple to do – more challenging to stay with.

3.You will have memories, images or thoughts that you may have not thought about in years. Just acknowledge them and bring your awareness back to your point of focus.

4.You start to analyze yourself. Remember this is a time for meditation not for psychotherapy. Analyze later, meditate now.

5.You have certain revelations. Again, acknowledge these and then bring yourself back to your point of focus.

6.A body part is sore or itchy. The first time you feel something in your body, just acknowledge it and bring your awarness back to your point of focus. Often, it will go away. If it continues to irritate you then change your body positions.

Meditation Techniques

Below are two classic meditation techniques. Feel free to try both and see which works best for you. Ideally you will want to start with ten to twenty minutes and overtime you can work up to forty-five minutes if you like. A daily practice yields the most benefit and progress. It is better to practice for fifteen minutes every day than to practice for one hour once a week.Your mind is like any other muscle - the more your exercise it the stronger it becomes!

Focusing on a sound or mantra

In this method a sound or “mantra” is repeated over and over and over again, either silently or outloud. The mantra becomes a point of focus or "object". A universal mantra is “Om” which is said to be the sound of creation. Another is “Ham (pronounced “hung”) “Sa” which means “I am that” - referring to spirit. Ham is said as you inhale and Sa as you exhale. The breathing is relaxed and easy through your nostrils Just keep bringing your awarness back to the mantra as you find your mind wondering. Remember, there is no need to beat yourself up for this as it is a natural phenomenon . Overtime you will find that mind wonders less and less. Some people like to use their own words such as “peace”, “love” or “let go”. If you have a special word or short group of words that has meaning for you, try using it.

Focusing on your breath:

Breathing in through your nostrils and though your nostrils, notice the feeling of the breath at the very point it enters your nose and follow the feelings of the air moving into your nasal passage to appoint where it ends. As you begin to exhale, notice where in your nasal passages you first notice your breath again and trace the feeling of your breath to the point where it exits your nostrils. Continue to notice your breath in this way, gently bringing your attention back to your breath when you catch your mind wondering. Another version of this technique is focus on the feeling of your torso moving in and out as you inhale and exhale.

One last point. It is sometimes very helpful to practice with others. Consider finding a meditation class at a nearby yoga studio or parks and recreation department. Practicing with like minded people and a good instructor can be very inspiring!


About the Author: Howard VanEs, M.A. has been studying and practicing yoga for over thirteen years and is a certified yoga instructor teaching in the East Bay area of San Francisco. He is author of “Beginning Yoga: A Practice Manual”, co-creator of the audio CD “Shavasana/DeepRelaxation. Howard is also a former pscyhotherapist. http://www.letsdoyoga.com info@letsdoyoga.com

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Meditation: The Art Of Seeking The Silence

Within every obstacle there is an equivalent or greater benefit.~Napoleon Hill
How would it feel if you rose to each obstacle with calm determination...completely free of anxiety and depression...ready to face each challenge with a smile?
How would it feel to look in the mirror and see yourself as unstoppable, invincible, and even a force of nature?
This can be much more than an exercise in imagination. You can experience this level of personal power and the profound sense of accomplishment that comes with it--and you can accomplish it through meditation.
When you meditate you slow down all your autonomic responses. You cut the fight or flight switch. You watch your anxiety, and remain detached. You watch your depression, and remain apart. The one with the life issue, the one with the sorrow, is not the one who watches the play of emotions.
In meditation, a watcher personality emerges, a consciousness that transcends the world, a vast spaciousness, a void that is paradoxically full.
If your agitation is strong, you may have to sit for a while, then, slowly and inevitably, you're forced to lose your grip on panic.
When this happens, when you're no longer living the problem, something shifts inside you and you find yourself still enough to see your own greatness.
In this vast stillness of your own beingness, you can plant the seed of your new desire, and replace the sorrowful event with its exact opposite.
Every tragedy in our life is an invitation to expand beyond the limitations that it sets upon us, and what you find is that you are indeed unstoppable, invincible, and even a force of nature.

Saleem Rana got his masters in psychotherapy from California Lutheran University. His articles on the internet have inspired over ten thousand people from around the world. Discover how to create a remarkable life. Free information.
http://theempoweredsoul.com/enter.html
Copyright 2005 Saleem Rana.

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Overcoming Obstacles In Practicing Yoga

by: Gavin Dye

Anyone embarking on the journey of yoga will face a series of obstacles, difficulties and detours. You will need to remove all of the following difficulties, noticed by yoga practitioners for a long time, in order to be able to fully benefit from the positive aspects of yoga. Here is a quick look at the nine major obstacles:

1. Vyadhi – This obstacle refers to physical or mental illness. Practicing yoga si even more difficult when you are not in great health. A balanced, healthy life style ensures victory on this obstacle, by preventing any form of sickness.

2. Styana – The second major difficulty related to yoga refers to an advanced state of apathy, which interferes with you willingness to commit to your responsibilities. We neglect and avoid practice by procrastinating and this, in turn, leads to coming up with excuses for not doing our work.

3. Sanshaya – One other major interference in the practice of yoga is related to the issue of doubting the benefits of practicing it. This problem also arises when faith in your own capabilities is low. This leads to a deviation from the original goals, making you more susceptible to outside interference.

4. Pramada – When lack of persistence and will is notices, the 4th yoga obstacle comes in place. Yoga requires a unique approach, as it is a combination of arts and sciences. If you practice yoga without the proper emotional and mental states, you may turn its positive aspects into negative ones.

5. Alasya – A lazy and inert state of mind and body will prevent you from receiving yoga’s full benefits. Most people have a hard time dealing with their own will power, creating the perfect conditions for this obstacle to appear. The road to success is hard most of the times and a strong will power can support your ascent. A passive approach, on the other hand, will almost certainly lead to a slow and ineffective advance.

6. Avirati – Physical objects hold a magnetic attraction to the majority of people. Yoga needs you to let go of these ropes that tie you to the material world and make progress in the realm of the spirit. Removing the weight of physical things is vital while practicing yoga.

7. Bhrantidarshan – Misunderstanding the path you are taking while practicing yoga can lead to disappointment. Avoid this by keeping your hopes in good contact with reality.

8. Alabdha-bhumikatva – We are often victims of our own discouragement. When a failure occurs we fall into a state of self-depreciation and low optimism levels. Failing to reach a step on your road to achieving your ideal can lead to aggravated forms of this obstacle.

9. Anawasthitatwa – Poor yoga practice may also lead to the incapability to reach and hold a higher level of consciousness. This can be frustrating and result in disappointment.

Overcoming these obstacles is possible by helping your mind to focus on single elements a one time. Do not allow any of these obstacles to increase in power, as the others will soon follow. The passing of time and a strong will and commitment is usually very effective in dealing with the 9 yoga obstacles.

Gavin Dye is the author and webmaster at http://www.yoga-supplies-4u.com where you can find out more about the health benefits of Yoga, and information on how to start practising Yoga.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Basic Meditation Technique

by: Chesa Keane

In this technique, you will focus on your breath to develop an unconscious connection so the positive feelings of relaxation, peace and well-being will be established within you and you'll be capable of retrieving these feeling whenever you wish. Do not rush this process or hold unrealistic expectations of fast results. It takes time to train your mind to exercise basic control of your thoughts before you can direct the mind toward specific intentions.

Level 1:

The first stage of meditation is actually a technique in concentration. Once relaxed, focus on your breath for a few minutes. After you find yourself completely relaxed and at ease, focus on the sounds around you. Try not to form thoughts about the sounds but rather just listen and let your mind flow around and through the sounds without clarification or judgment. Do this exercise for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, releasing your attention to the sounds and focusing on your breath as you begin to be more aware of your body.

Repeat this exercise until you can easily follow known sounds, expected sounds and unexpected sounds with the same calm, focused attention. You might start with a favorite, calming or soothing piece of music. Next, once you have mastered the known sound concentration technique, you might focus on a classical piece of music you are not too familiar with. When you feel comfortable with being able to follow this piece of music without trailing off into uncontrolled thought, you are ready to move to the final sound exercise.

The final sound focus will be on unusual sounds, such Whale Songs, or Songs of the Wolves or digital sounds. When you are able to follow sounds without your mind wandering regardless of the source, you are ready for Level 2. Level 2 may take you several weeks of practice before you are able to stay focused for 15 to 20 minutes without your mind wandering. Give yourself the time. Remember, learning to control your thoughts through this concentration exercise is like building up a new muscle.

Level 2:

The second level in this technique for improving your meditation skills focuses on your imagination and visualization abilities. After going through the relaxation process and placing yourself in a comfortable position, focus on your breath for a few minutes until you are completely relaxed and centered. You are now going to create a scene in your mind of your favorite place. This favorite place may exist in reality or only in your mind. Take the time to carefully build a detailed image of this place where you can feel the air, hear the sounds, and be aware of the smells surrounding you as you place yourself in the center of this favorite place. Spend time in this place over and over in meditation until you can quickly and clearly call upon this imagery whenever you want. Along with the image will come all the feelings of well-being, joy, peace and happiness that associate to your favorite place.

Level 3:

The third level of meditation skill development focuses on a structured thought such as a favorite saying or aphorism. There are many to choose from. Use one that generates exploratory thought processes for you. Unlike previous exercises, you are now going to let your thoughts flow. Follow these thoughts through imagery, feelings and awareness until you know that you have absorbed the meaning of this aphorism thoroughly. What will surprise you is the depth and breadth of understanding an even simple saying can produce.

Using these techniques will open you to a world of thought management, directional focus and a deeper understanding of self and acceptance of others. By focusing on the breath as you develop your meditation and concentration skills, you will begin to unconsciously associate these peaceful and relaxed feelings with the control of your breath. Then when you are faced with a stressful situation, you can call up these feelings by simply slowing your breath and consciously relaxing your muscles. Using this technique, relaxation and feelings of well-being will always be available when you need it.

(c)2005 TAO Consultant, Inc. All rights reserved.

Website: http://www.taototem.com

About The Author

Chesa Keane has taught meditation and self-help for more than 30 years. To receive your free starter Basic Meditation and Basic Relaxation Techniques and an introduction to a unique meditation tool, the TAO Totem, visit: http://www.meditation-works.com

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The ''Inner Smile'' Relaxation Technique

For many people, work is a stressful environment. Even worse, sometimes the anxiety and stress of work follows you home and saturates your thoughts in the evenings and on the weekends. One of the most important part of any stress reducing plan is to find a way to "shut off" thoughts of work after the day is done. Try this short exercise Dr. Sarah Brewer suggests in her book, "The Beginner's Guide To Relaxation".

The Inner Smile

This is a Chinese technique to help "shut off" stressful thoughts.

After work, find a comfortable spot to sit, where you can feel relaxed. Allow your body to sink into a relaxed state. Think of an amusing part of your day, or anecdote you find amusing. Allow yourself to smile. Feel the smile spread, and your face glow. Let the glow spread throughout your body. Your entire being is shining with the sensation of that smile. Give in to the feeling of relaxation and calm, feel it flood your senses.

You've left the stress and worry of work behind. Enjoy the rest of your day.

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