Shutting Off The Stress Response With Meditation


Published:

Fear is an emotional reaction to a perceived threat to our well-being. It lets us know when we’re in danger. It lets us know when we need to act appropriately to steer away from said danger. It is a powerful emotion indeed. So powerful that it can take over our psyches and start doing incredible damage in our lives.

So how does this work? This whole fear damaging our lives thingy? To gain a basic understanding, let’s talk about the nervous system. We all have two divisions of the nervous system — our voluntary system, and our autonomic system. The voluntary system is the one that can be controlled by conscious thought. We use the voluntary system when we control our breathing, when we decided to stand from a seated position, when we’re driving a vehicle for example. The autonomic system (I call it the “automatic” nervous system) is one that is not controlled by conscious thought. It’s the part of the nervous system that keeps our hearts beating, keeps our digestive systems working, and keeps us breathing when we’re not thinking about it (very important!)

The autonomic nervous system is further divided into two divisions — the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS.) Each division has it’s own set of functions, but for simplicity-sake, we’re just gonna focus on the body’s stress response as it relates to fear.

The sympathetic nervous system is the more well-known division of this nervous system. The SNS is responsible for the fight-or-flight response. The system that puts you in an active state in the face of an emergency. Parents know this system well, especially when their kiddos are toddlers. Remember when you saw junior falling off a chair across the room and you teleported yourself over there to catch him in time? Fight-or-flight response! Great if you want to prevent an injury, not so great if you’re just going about your day.

Unfortunately, we live in an over-stimulated state of being these days. You see, your SNS doesn’t know the difference between an emergency situation, or the constant stream of information that pours out of your smartphone every day. This results in a generally anxious, stressed-out state of being. Stress, by the way, is the leading cause of workplace absences, doctor office visits, and chronic disease. It doesn’t discriminate, and it’s impact is one of the most costly in our society. Over time, stress perpetuates fear. And a human being living in a fearful state ends up weakened and ill over time. It’s no good. So what is a human to do?

So glad you asked! Fortunately for us humans, the SNS has a cousin who likes to work on calming the body down. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. And guess what? Integrating yoga and mindfulness practices into your life stimulates this PSNS! Folks — this means that we can effectively reduce stress and eliminate fear just by breathing deeply and quieting the mind. And being physically active helps your body release these great hormones called endorphins — basically therapeutic agents just waiting to be released into your blood stream, chomping at the bit to make you feel better! How cool is that?

So how can you start stimulating your PSNS today? You’ve got such great questions! How about a simple meditation for five minutes? Find a comfortable seat, sit up nice and tall, pull in your belly, relax your shoulders, and close your eyes. Scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, acknowledge any tension you come across in your scan. Perhaps send breath into those areas to create a bit more space and release the tension. Now tune inward to the breath as it flows in and out of your nose. No need to control the breath, just observe the sensations of breath as it flows in and out of your nose. The breath is cooled as it flows inward, warmed as it flows outward. Now you can bring some control to the breath with an accompanying count. Slow the breathing down. Inhale one, exhale two, inhale three, exhale four. Continue until you count to ten, and then start over at one. Your mind will wander off — that’s normal! When you realize it has, bring the focus back to the breath and the count.

In five minutes, you will have taken a mini-vacation by stimulating your PSNS. The stress response will be reduced, and you will have better control over your reaction to stress. Observe how you feel after the mini-vacation. Do you notice any changes? Maybe you’re breathing easier? Maybe you have less tension in your body? Whatever the case may be for you, I hope that this short and sweet meditation helped you in some way. If you are still sitting stressed out and inviting fear over for lunch, try implementing a practice like this every day. Over time, your nervous system will understand what you’re trying to do and eventually, you will feel better. Be empowered by the simple knowledge that you do have the ability to make yourself feel better, and that you can ultimately prevent fear from causing damage to your health and well being. It just takes a little effort. It sure beats a trip to the doctor if you ask me!

Wishing you a bright and beautiful day Lovely Souls! Peace, love, Namaste!

Marissa Fratoni is a Holistic RN who writes, teaches yoga, practices massage therapy, coaches people who wish to be whole-self well, and advocates for the therapeutic use of cannabis as often as she can. She lives in Leominster, Massachusetts with her loving home inspector husband, her beautiful two-year-old daughter, her tuxedo kitty Wylie, and one chicken appropriately named Uno. Marissa believes in the body’s ability to heal when given the right tools and environment to do so. She is a very active member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association. She can be found teaching yoga at Central Mass Yoga in West Boylston, MA. Her misadventures and writings can be found at https://medium.com/@marissafratoni, or hopefully on her blog at https://holisticnursemama.blog.

This article was republished from the Central Mass Yoga & Wellness blog.

See also:
Why We Are Anxious And What To Do About It
Getting Started With Meditation

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

February 17, 2018

First thing in the morning a tricky angle between Mars and Neptune increases certain risk factors. Inclement weather and poor judgment are among others. Soon after, Mercury’s conjunction with the Sun inspires some to hit the open road. A change of…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2018

Two Sundays, January 14th and February 11th Learn advanced techniques for self-care, to offer Reiki to others from a distance and for manifesting what you want in your life! Facilitated...

Cost: $250

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Join us the Second Sunday of the month at the Northeast Reiki Center classroom in Framingham for a Reiki Circle in the Usui Reiki System of Natural Healing. We are a gathering of Reiki...

Cost: Free

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

Are you curious about yoga but don't know where to begin? The Intro to Yoga Series is a great place to start your practice. This series will provide a safe, non-competitive and welcoming...

Cost: $90 for series

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut St, Suite A
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Telephone: 603-969-8968
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is...

Cost: $11-$15 per class

Where:
Chelmsford Wellness Center
3 Littleton Road, 2nd Floor
Westford, MA  01886
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

January 8 - February 12, 2018 Intuition + Energy Medicine + Energy Psychology = The REAP Healing Method This 6 week certification training course provides you with the understanding and the...

Cost: $695

Where:
Live Online
Comfort of Your Home
, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The REAP Healing Method
Telephone: 978-877-8651
Contact Name: Pamela Dussault
Website »

More information

A guided tour in discovering, confirming and verifying your personality, behaviors and habits. A three part series at the Waltham Public Library Monday, February 5 7:15PM Monday, February 12...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3429
Contact Name: Louise Goldstein
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Experience the power of singing gospel music with more than 250 others as part of the Mystic Chorale, led by award-winning director and composer, Jonathan Singleton. Join Mystic as we prepare...

Cost: $105

Where:
First Parish Unitarian
630 Mass Ave.
Arlington , MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Mystic Chorale
Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur Annamaria
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Please join us at our monthly meetings, second Wednesday each month in Northboro, MA. Stay inspired and create collaborative professional relationships. A welcoming community working for the...

Where:
First Parish Unitarian Church Hall
40 Church Street
Northborough, MA  01532
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is integrating into treatment plans. By...

Cost: $12-$17 per class

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Ceneter
176 Jackson Road
Devens, MA  01434
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Led by Deanna Jayne, Authentic Lifestyle Mentor The womb chakra ~ the most sacred place in our physical body, a supreme source of spiritual energy, clarity, and power. When this chakra is...

Cost: $351

Where:
Groton Wellness
495 Main Street
Mill Run Plaza
Groton, MA  01450
View map »


Sponsor: Deanna Jayne
Telephone: 978-449-9919
Contact Name: Amy Ashman
Website »

More information

6 Week Series with Sherri Snyder-Roche Start your year with greater awareness. In Kundalini Yoga, we harness the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and put them under the...

Cost: $90

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Lauren Rainbow Limited to 16 students! Be sure to register early! This unique one-day course on mediumship, with medium Lauren Rainbow, is focused on developing heart-centered messages from...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Spend a cozy winter weekend with colleagues diving into the rich material contained within the Dàodéjīng. While each class builds upon the material covered in the previous...

Cost: $325

Where:
Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Eastern Medicinal Therapies Education Center
Telephone: 617-435-3586
Contact Name: Lauren Paap
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags