Tapping is a technique in which you use your fingers to tap on meridian points in order to relieve stress. We intuitively know, for example, that the key meridian points near the eyebrows, nose, temple, and chest can comfort us, which is why we often unconsciously touch these areas when we are under stress. Tapping lets us access these points in a conscious and deliberate way.
Before you begin, choose an emotional focus you would like to clear from your mind. Then frame it as a phrase, such as, “I am stressed out.” Now insert that phrase into a sentence that ends with “I love and accept myself,” like this, “Even though I am stressed out, I love and accept myself.”
Amy Kurtz is a wellness expert, an AADP-certified Holistic Health Coach, speaker, and a regular contributor on popular wellness websites such as mindbodygreen and Yoganonymous. She lives in New York City. For more information, visit amykurtz.com.
For many heart patients, stress is the elephant in the room – not only around the holidays, but all the time. When we discuss why they missed their goals for proper exercise, nutrition, abstinence from smoking, and proper sleep, stress is often the reason. Here are some stress-management tips taken from a series of lectures I’ve given – I share them with the hope that they help manage stresses in your life.
When I talk to patients about stress, I begin by describing adaptogens, or herbs that appear useful in stabilizing physiology and improving anxiety and stress. I do this because so many of them are already using pills — typically benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan — and my goal is to get them off those prescription medications ASAP. Frankly, substituting one pill for another is something most patients accept faster than any other technique. I’ve had success in many patients using L-theanine 200 mg twice a day and ashwagandha 500 mg twice daily, usually together. Even elderly patients report they feel less stressed and more functional. Rhodiola is another adaptogen I like because it’s been studied in heart patients and shows benefits for their symptoms. I recommend 100 mg a day.
There are many styles of breath-work, but I find I can teach my patients the 4-7-8 breathing practice in the office in just a few minutes, and they use it right away. I refer them to an online video created for children, and ask them to practice this at home and use it in their daily routine:
Teaching meditation is a longer process than the first two techniques, but has been shown to benefit heart patients and should be taught routinely. I ask them to study the Kirtan Kriya taught by Dr. Khalsa because it’s only 12 minutes and is supported by great research results at UCLA. When I tell them that they may slow aging and improve their memory while dealing with their stress, they’re eager to use it in their lives.
This is an online program using heart-centered breathing and positive emotions to restore balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. It requires purchasing a cable that clips on the earlobe and connects to a smartphone, tablet or a PC. I recommend it to patients because it resembles a game, is easy to learn, and is supported by published scientific studies showing lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, improved memory, and better school performance.
Different styles of yoga have been studied in a variety of serious stress disorders including cancer, post-trauma, and addictions, and has been found to be beneficial even when tested using rigorous scientific study design. Yoga can be adapted for the elderly using only a chair; it provides a sense of community, and offers some cardio benefit as well.
My patients ask me if massage is worthwhile, and when I tell them that medical benefits have been identified for this therapy, including blood pressure and stress reduction, they’re excited.
Will these six tips help offer something for everyone? Unfortunately, there are people who aren’t willing to try and stick with these practices, and others who have unrealistic expectations. There are other approaches to consider, including essential oils, music, exercise proper nutrition, hormonal balance, and improved GI tract function. I refer challenging patients to holistic psychiatrists and counselors.
I remind my patients of a story about a man speaking to a religious leader repeating over and over that he was frustrated with the stresses in life. The leader suggested they take a walk, and stopped in front of a cemetery. The man asked why they stopped there and the leader replied, “They are the only people who have no worries and stress, for the rest of us, we need to manage and work out the issues.”
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Dr. Kahn is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac Wellness, Michigan Healthcare Professionals PC. He is a graduate Summa Cum Laude of the University of Michigan School of Medicine. He lectures widely on the cardiac benefits of vegan nutrition, mind body practices and heart attack prevention. He writes blogs for MindBodyGreen, OneGreenPlanet, Aloha.com, Forksoverknives.com, and for Readers Digest Magazine as the Holistic Heart Doc. His latest book, The Plant-Based Solution will be released in January 2018.
Sometimes life is complicated, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. We may be able to cope with everyday stresses, but when we have multiple traumatic events happening at once, we can feel frozen by fear and uncertainty, stuck in our painful circumstances. We may feel victimized and incapable of making a move. As our modern age speeds up, this feeling can intensify to the point that we make ourselves sick. What can we do when we feel so confused and empty that we become immobilized and exhausted?
This kundalini meditation is designed to help center your consciousness and channel all your confusion out of your psyche. You give your feelings of uncertainty, pain, and blame to the universe and replace them with the pure, clear light of your soul, accessing what was actually there all along.
Sit up with your spine straight. Center yourself with your breath.
Interlace your fingers in front of your heart with the index fingers pressed together pointing up. Close your eyes, focusing internally on the third eye point.
Begin chanting the mantra “Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Guru, Wahe Jio” (pronounced “wah-hey guh-roo, wah-hey guh-roo, wah-hey guh-roo, wah-hey jee-oh”). Our translation of this mantra is: “As in amazement, here and now, all darkness is transformed to illuminating light in my soul.” Practice doing this chant with the following visualization:
On the syllable of “wah,” feel the sound vibrating at your navel.
On the syllable of “hey,” feel the sound vibrating at your heart.
On the syllables of “gur-roo” and “jee-oh,” feel the sounds vibrating at your lips.
Continue chanting the mantra for up to 11 minutes.
Inhale deeply and hold your breath in. Feel the echo of the sounds still vibrating in your navel, heart, and lips. Suspend your breath for as long as you comfortably can and then exhale very consciously.
Inhale a second time and again suspend your breath. Release the feeling of being trapped by circumstances. Surrender it to the universe. Surrender your pain and feelings of blame. Release your stress and your uncertainty. Give it all to God. Hold the breath for as long as you comfortably can and then exhale, still holding your concentration.
Inhale a third time and give your life to God. Surrender. Whatever God means to you, offer your existence to that. Allow yourself to feel the purification this action creates in your psyche. When you are ready, exhale and sit for a while with the whole experience of this powerful meditation.
Karena Virginia brings 20 years of experience as a certified healer and registered instructor in the kundalini and hatha schools. Before her teaching career, she worked in the entertainment industry as an actress and model. She lives in the New York City area. For more information, visit karenavirginia.com.
Dharm Khalsa is a board member of the Siri Singh Sahib Corporation, the nonprofit overseeing kundalini yoga in the US since founder Yogi Bhajan’s passing. Trained directly by Yogi Bhajan, for whom he was a personal assistant for nearly a decade, Dharm has taught kundalini yoga since 1980. He lives in New Mexico.
When you are confused, celebrate. In this moment, you’re free from having to know, liberated from the burden of expertise. There is no step from confusion to clarity; you clearly see confusion, and so clarity is already closer.
When you have doubts, celebrate. You have remained curious, and you haven’t settled for secondhand answers nor fixated on a conclusion. You’re free from certainty, the great weapon of the ego, undoubtedly.
When you feel fear, celebrate. You are moving into the unknown, leaving the known world, the dying world, the old world. Stepping into the new. Fear and excitement are so close here. The illusory armor of the separate self is breaking apart; life is flooding in. Fear is trying to protect you; bow to it.
When you feel anger, celebrate. Feel its ferocity, its power, the cry of a velociraptor. Life is surging through you, raw, unfiltered. You are on the verge of finding your song, fighting for a cause with passion, standing up for those without a voice, knowing what you deserve. Anger is related to courage, your willingness to move toward life and protect what you love, even in the face of danger.
When you get lost, celebrate. In every great journey, heroes lose their way sometimes, doubt their own power sometimes. Get lost, and find yourself. Find presence, the breath, the beating of the heart. Take the giant step of not knowing which step to take; a perfect step. Trust the doubting, too. And your path will find you, moment by moment. Your true path cannot be lost, ever.
When you feel sorrow, celebrate. You are not numb. You have not closed your heart to the unwanted. You are wide open to life, sensitive. This old, familiar friend has come to you for help. She is not a mistake. She only wants to warm herself by the fire of your presence, be given a space at the table, next to joy.
When you feel that you cannot celebrate life, celebrate. You are honest, you tell the truth of the moment, your eyes are open.
Karen Brody is the founder of the Daring to Rest™ Program for Women, which promotes women’s empowerment and increased health through yoga nidra meditation. With Sounds True, Karen has published Daring to Rest: Reclaim Your Power with Yoga Nidra Rest Meditation. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Karen and Tami Simon have a serious discussion about the epidemic of burnout and exhaustion in modern culture. This is especially true for women, who are often held to the societal expectation that they serve the needs of those around them before they ever consider taking even the most necessary rest. Karen offers yoga nidra as a one part of the solution to this wave of fatigue, describing how her own practice and the cultivation of turiya—”the sleep of the yogis”—helped her move past a period of intense, chronic sleeplessness. Finally, Karen and Tami speak on the liberation in abandoning perfectionism and how yoga nidra can be folded into the course of our daily lives. (64 minutes)