Preparing Mind & Body for the Healing Journey
Preparing Mind & Body for the Healing Journey
By Rochelle K Hammond
Dr. TCM, Acupuncturist
In our last newsletter we spoke about the 3 key steps to Restore Gut Balance (http://www.weststreetwellbeing.com.au/3-steps-restore-gut-balance/) and outlined the importance of adopting dietary and lifestyle changes to support an effective nutritional/herbal program. This article is focused on the importance of implementing lifestyle changes that calm the mind and promote relaxation to prepare your Mind & Body for a healing journey!
Resolving long-standing and often stubborn health issues is no different to preparing for a major life event. Result = Effort. Can you remember how much effort and planning went into completing your last course of study, going on an extended trip overseas or designing the layout of your home or your child’s bedroom? That chronic gut, skin or hormone imbalance won’t just disappear because of a “magic pill or potion”. It might feel better for a few hours or days, however true long lasting health and vitality means eliminating what is sending your key systems out of balance and providing your body (and brain) with what it needs to thrive once again.
These lifestyle changes are ‘part 1’ of a structured and supported approach that will help you work through the key systems in your body to address the root cause of the internal imbalance. This approach recognises how stress, sleep, exercise, community, environment, relationships, work, life purpose and nutrition can contribute to cause imbalance in your key systems and it is in these areas that changes need to be directed to restore balance.
Preparing the Mind & Body for a Healing Journey
To prepare the Mind and Body for a healing journey you need to learn to ‘push the pause button’. Outlined below are 5 skills to practice that promote rest, deep relaxation and mind-body connection. The important thing to note about these skills once learnt, is that they can and should be applied when needed (i.e when faced with challenges in life that normally throw you off balance) and not just when you’ve got time (i.e. on weekends or after work).
The best way to approach learning these skills is to set up a calendar or diary so that you can keep track of your progress with each activity. Rather than starting everything at once, try starting with a new skill every two or three days and continue with it for at least two weeks. See what you notice and how you feel and check in with your practitioner on a regular basis. They can partner you and give valuable feedback on your progress and suggestions to overcome any hurdles you encounter along the way.
5 skills to help you learn to relax, calm your mind, reduce stress and improve sleep –
- Soft Belly Breathing technique: Every time you breathe you activate the Vagus nerve which runs from the brain to the diaphragm. Connecting the body and mind using the breath is an easy and effective way to turn on our natural relaxation response and eliminate stress. Every time we concentrate on our breathing this sends a signal to the brain that we are safe.
Do this simple breathing exercise five times a day, when you wake up, before you fall asleep and before meals. You will instantly feel better!
- Put your hand on your belly and allow your abdomen to relax.
- Close your eyes or soften your focus and look at the floor in front of you.
- Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- Breathe deeply into your abdomen and feel it expand as you count to 5.
- Pause for a count of 1.
- Exhale slowly to a count of 5, allowing your body to relax and release tension.
- Repeat for 5 breaths or until you feel relaxed.
- Connect more with loved ones: community is more effective than any medication and getting healthy is a team sport, so don’t go into this alone. Ask a friend or family member to join you and start by making the changes together!
- Meditation: the evidence points to just 3 minutes per day making a difference.
- Deep Relaxation: Try doing Deep Relaxation Yoga Nidra™ techniques to take your body out of “fight or flight” and put it into the “rest and digest” mode. If you have trouble sleeping, these are great to try before bed. (Subscribe to Mrs Mindfulness for a free audio https://mrsmindfulness.com/)
- Practice good sleep hygiene: see our Blog post http://www.weststreetwellbeing.com.au/7-steps-better-nights-sleep/
Taking magnesium powder, herbal tea, journaling before bed and eating at least two hours before bed time are just a few helpful tips.
We hope these guidelines will help you take simple and effective steps towards a more balanced life that nourishes and sustains your mind, body and soul.
Once you have tested out each of the options and have a routine in place, you may even be inspired to deepen your practice by say joining a regular meditation class.
The next phase of the program involves making dietary and environmental changes to remove processed foods and toxins from your home and environment. Look out for this in the next newsletter in March.
 Dr Mark Hyman, “The Broken Brain DocuSeries”, Creating an UltraMind Workbook p.3