The Healer Within

The body’s self-healing functions only work when our nervous system is in the recovery parasympathetic mode–this is our healer within. The parasympathetic mode is the ‘rest and digest’ side of our autonomic (or what I like to call ‘automatic’) nervous system. Unfortunately, most of us live perpetually stressed lives and are almost always in the sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ mode. Our bodies are unable to repair and restore themselves because they always feel they are being chased by a lion! The lion may be in the form of a boss or job, a toxic relationship, abusive family, self-neglect (health, passion, dreams), COVID-19 disruption of life as we knew it or anything else that causes stress. Permanent healing can only happen when stress responses in the nervous system are replaced with relaxation responses. You can learn how to do this!

Put Your Body in Healing Mode

4 things you need to Elicit the Healing Relaxation Response:

  1. A quiet environment
  2. A mental device (repeated phrase, word, sound or prayer)
  3. A passive, non-judgmental attitude
  4. A comfortable position

How to Elicit the Relaxation Response:

  1. Pick a focus word, short phrase, or prayer that is firmly rooted in your belief system, such as ‘one,’ ‘peace,’ ‘the Lord is my shepherd,’ ‘hail Mary, full of grace,’ ‘Shalom,’‘OM,’ or Allah.
  2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Relax your muscles, progressing from your feet to your calves, thighs, abdomen, shoulders, neck and head
  5. Breathe slowly and naturally, and as you do, say your focus word, sound, phrase or prayer silently to yourself as you exhale.
  6. Assume a passive attitude. Don’t worry about how well you’re doing. When other thoughts come to mind, simply say to yourself, “Oh well,” and gently return to your repetition.
  7. Continue for 10-20 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t feel the need to check the clock.
  8. Do not stand immediately. Continue sitting quietly for a minute or so, allowing other thoughts to return. Then open your eyes and sit for another minute before rising.
  9. Practice the technique once or twice daily

How to Elicit the Relaxation Response on the go:

  1. Repeat a word, sound, phrase, prayer or muscular activity.
  2. Passively disregard everyday thoughts that inevitably come to mind and return to your repetition.
  3. You can do this while exercising, cooking, painting, shopping, driving, etc.
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