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Monday, 3 July 2017

Relaxation - Get back to Basics: Mairead Ashcroft 3/7/17

How does your mind and body respond when some one tells you to "Relax" or "Just clam down"? If
you find their request more challenging than comforting, you are not alone. Relaxation, or that feeling that happens when tension leaves your mind and body, is a state that has become a multi-billion dollar industry due to the fact that we are led to believe that experiencing any form of stress in bad for us and that relaxation is something that we can buy. Stress is a mental and emotional experiences that contains some form of strain or tension that often causes physical symptoms in our bodies and difficulties on other areas of our lives but contrary to may beliefs, stress is not all bad. We may find ourselves involved in stressful situations when we watch out favorite sports team compete with their rivals, and we may feel the flutter of butterflies in our tummies as we tell someone that we love them for the first time. Stress can be present when we are excited about new and positive, forward-moving life developments but it would seem that we usually associate the word stress with negative, fearful and sometimes traumatic life experiences. Other animals who share our planet experience stress often, but unlike us, they live in the moment, and once the stress has abated, they tend to shake it off and go about their daily business.

Humans have the power of consciousness, reflection and foresight. These gifts are among our greatest strengths offering us the ability to give and receive empathy, plan and strategise to ensure ample supplies to meet our needs, and the ability to think beyond our self and into the betterment of the global community as a whole. The shadow side of or great gifts is that we can also become
engrossed in the difficult intricacies of life that can be all consuming when we lose the ability to self-regulate, re-ground our lives and / or  bring our lives into balance.

One of the greatest aims in the busy lives that people lead today seems to be to relieve stress any way possible. We may choose healthy , unhealthy or a combination of both techniques. We may use drugs, illicit or prescription, we may consume alcohol socially or habitually, we may spend a lot of money or more time that we can afford on gimmicks and trends that claim to provide short term stress relief like attending quick fix workshops and using creams and potions to provide placebo effects that create the temporary illusion of stress relief. I don't believe that there is anything wrong with gaining short term relief from stress or gaining positive effects from placebo practices, but what I do object to are the exorbitant prices that vulnerable people are being charged to receive something that they can manifest for themselves.

Relaxation is an art that we are born with which seems to fleetingly vanish from our everyday experience, to become something that is not so easy to come by. Many of us face the riggers of performing in ways that are often in comparison to others, learning this behaviour, for some, very early in age. It Mat be here that we loose our appreciation of self and our place in the universe, feeling  pressured to always be in search for something other than what we have. It is through these experiences and the mirroring the behaviours of those around us might prove a catalyst in trapping us in a cycle of dissatisfaction, inauthentic longing and an anxiety driven life force, creating negative stress and dis- ease in our every day lived experience. Relaxation is more than a
Looking at Glass Stones Fingerprints through Candle Light 
physical state, it is a state of mind and can once again become a way of being when practiced over time. The type of relaxation and stress relief that I am talking about here is free, and can be practiced anywhere and at any time and requires no fancy equipment, manuals, creams, oils or gadgets. It's no more than being present in your environment, whatever that might be. It is most often referred to as mindfulness.

Mindfulness practice can take many forms but today I would like to share a most simple task. When was the last time that you looked carefully at your fingerprints and the lines on the palms of your hands? Now you might think to yourself, " I don't have time to waste doing this exercise!" I would reply by pointing out that many of us spend a great deal of unproductive and / or negative time reminiscing over things that we cannot change or blithely staring at the T.V. for hours on end. Exploring a part of your body in detail, could lead to self discovery. Pay attention to the colours, shadows, textures, temperatures, scars, and any thing else that you might notice. How does the skin on you hands feel when you touch other surfaces? Are you out in nature or in a built up area? What different things can you touch that are specific to that area? Are you at home alone or are you with you children and / or partner? In a private moment when the children have gone to bed, you might wish to turn of the T.V. and explore your partners hand or other body part in a mindful way and see where that may take you both. You can set the boundaries before you begin if you like or allow the exploration to flow freely. It is entirely up to you and you partner. Mindfulness practice is a form of relaxation that is free from judgment and expectation and loaded with curiosity and wonder. You do not have to reach a goal, you do not need to possess any particular skill or tool other than those with which you were born. All you need is to be present in the moment.
Live you Bliss


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