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Erase tension and reboot your nerves

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CUTLINE
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By Tom Chillemi

In school you learned a bunch of things. But did you learn to control your nerves? Probably not. There is a is a simple technique that will help you relax and refresh in minutes.

The word “meditate” brings up thoughts of candles, incense and chanting. Forget about them. I prefer to say I’m “collecting my thoughts.”

All you need is a quiet place and about 15 minutes. After which you’ll feel like it’s a new day.

When you’re keyed up or stressed, it’s harder to relax. Forget trying to nap because all the things that need to be done swirl around in your head. 

It’s impossible to think of “nothing.” So, you must have something to think about, or your mind will run away with the thoughts it has collected.

When you’re stressed or tired, it becomes harder to make decisions or think and for people to be around each other. Think about the arsenic hour, 4 p.m., when all the goals and deadlines of the day converge. Before this happens is the perfect time to go someplace quiet and meditate.

Try this…
Consciously relax your breathing by taking long breaths. Inhale for about 3 seconds. Exhale for 5 seconds and really push out the air that’s deep. This clears your lungs to accept more oxygen. Tense people take shorter breaths.

Be aware of tight muscles in your neck or shoulders. Is your tongue pressed against the top of your mouth? Deep breathing will relax tight muscles.

Your eyes take in millions of bits of information every minute; no wonder they get tired and burn.

Try this. Loosen or remove your shoes, which hold in heat. Close your eyes for 30 seconds. Now open them a few seconds. Feel how hard it is to keep them open. Repeat this a few times and your eyes will stay closed naturally.

With your eyes closed, think of a ball rolling around in a circle inside of a hoop. Breathe in as the ball rolls up, breathe out as is rolls down. Your eyes may start to follow the ball. It’s an involuntary response that pulls tension from your eyes.

Stay with me.
Although the ball and hoop technique sounds easy, it requires concentration. Outside thoughts may creep in. That’s okay. Just go back to the ball and hoop.

Now you are ready to add the mantra, a nonsense phrase that means nothing—that’s the goal, to think of nothing. One mantra is “sot-nom.”

Keep your eyes closed and think “sot” when you inhale, “nom” when you exhale and keep your mind focused on the rhythm. Outside thoughts will be pushed aside by the mantra.

It helps to visualize the phrase, or imagine hearing it, or drawn out in a long sound. For me the transition from a full exhale until I inhale is where I sometimes lose the mantra. Not a problem. Just get back to it. Remember to breathe deep.

Don’t be surprised if the solution to a problem “pops into your head.”

Keep going and you go into a dream-like state—that gray area between being awake and asleep. Thoughts will get jumbled the way they do in a dream. You may feel your eyes start to flutter from side to side, or your eyes may look up and toward the center of your forehead. That’s a good sign. When done right, heat radiates from the forehead.

Movement of the eyes is similar to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep that is associated with dreaming.

Don’t be surprised if the solution to a problem “pops into your head.”

You only need to turn off your mind for a few seconds. My theory is that “going under” allows your mind to catch up with the rate of stimulation that is coming at it. It’s sort of like when you re-boot a computer that has been trying to do too many tasks at once.

Once you’ve gone under and let your body go limp and relaxed, it’s like a new day. Your eyes have cooled.

You’ll find you have more energy and work more efficiently and happier. You may also wonder why so many people are tense.

Even if you don’t go under, you’ll feel better because some of the tension will be gone.

It’s important to watch for signs of tension and stress that indicate you’re getting overheated. Tight muscles, burning eyes and trouble concentrating are your body’s way of saying “Enough! It’s break time.”

Do not wait until stress is at a 10. Stop when it’s a 5 and it will be easier to eliminate through meditation.

I’ve read that “morning people” and “night people” both have a down period between 2 and 4 p.m. What a terrible time of day to have meetings or do difficult tasks. No wonder some cultures take a “siesta.”

I was taught to meditate in the morning, but I rarely use it then. Some say it wakes you up; I tend to fall back asleep.

I also was taught to meditate sitting up, so I did not fall asleep. I meditate lying down. Hey, if sleep is what my body wants…why not? This is high quality sleep.

You must have quiet without interruptions. If noise is a problem, get a “white” noise machine with ear buds, or turn on a fan. The hum will block some outside noises.

After 35 years of meditation, as soon as I close my eyes and think “sot-nom” my body knows what I want and the process happens nearly immediately.

Give meditation a try, you have nothing to lose but your stress.

posted 03.05.2014

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