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Finding Peace in Difficult Times

When a community is hit by a natural disaster, a shooting or a large societal issue, lives are lost or shattered by physical injury, the loss of homes and jobs. We try to make sense of what happened and deal with the stress of the situation.

Through these challenging times…

We become resilient

            We seek options

                        We don’t give up.

In spite of how much we try, we cannot pretend everything is just fine because things aren’t fine. These events create a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety for those directly and indirectly affected.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with feeling the emotional impact; we’re human and after a major traumatic event, it is ‘normal’ to feel stressed and have difficulty managing our feelings.

There’s so much bad happening to so many that focusing on the positive and not letting these chaotic events get us down, could be very challenging to most of us.

At the same time, I know that the way we feel individually impacts the collective mind. A joint vibration of panic and hopelessness has the ability to invite others to feel panic and hopeless in record time.

However, you may ask:  how can we rise above these tragedies while at the same time we give honor and respect to those affected by them?

The fact is that if we are wishing to contribute to any improvement of any kind, we must start finding peace within ourselves. We can make a positive impact in our immediate environment (family, friends, neighbors, clients, co-workers) by bringing out our sense of hope, strength and resilience.

By redirecting our mindset we can generate a new and positive ripple effect which will reach beyond our understanding.

As Mahatma Gandhi said: “You Must Be The Change You Want To See In The World”

We must draw strength from places of PEACE.  We can start by managing our stress, anger or depression in healthy ways through our faith or spirituality, volunteering, exercising, meditating, even singing, and enjoying time with friends, family, and pets.

Taking life ONE DAY AT A TIME with the help of relaxation, meditation and breathing techniques at some point before the day is over can make a huge difference in our outlook to life.

Most of us think that we are too busy to invest our time in any of these practices. However, we fail to realize how much time we spend in worrying, sleepless nights, and looking for cures to our sense of helplessness, anxiety, and desperation. When in fact,  the healthier we are, and the more relaxed we feel, the more available we would be to help not only ourselves but also, those in need.

One very efficient and healthy way to access a deep state of relaxation during difficult times is the powerful practice of the Yoga Nidra technique. (Download English Version or Spanish Version)

YOGA NIDRA is also known as “Psychic Sleep” because it takes us to the – alpha state of mind, (that state of mind where we naturally go every night right before we fall asleep, and every morning just before we are fully awake). The best thing about this practice is that you can do it in the comfort of your own bed at night before you go to sleep.

Yoga Nidra is a powerful approach that I learned in India and put together for you. It will assist you in gaining clarity of mind,  eliminating anxiety, dealing with depression, conquering insomnia, and managing stress.

You can download this effective guided meditation on your phone or any mobile device. (Versions in English and Spanish)

I believe that we can change the vibration of the planet one person at a time,  and, that you and I can make a difference by finding peace within. As John Lennon said, “You may say I am a dreamer, but I am not the only one”.

With Love,

Veronica Vidal

www.veroyoga.com

www.verolifecoach.com

info@verovidal.com

305-365-5483

Online Worldwide Coaching

The Science of The Breath

Breathing is everything. Rather, correct breathing is everything.

It can be the difference between a super-strong pain-free body and one that’s under constant Cortisol distress and full of instability.

When you take a deep breath in and your diaphragm contracts down, it stimulates the vagus nerve. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, this sends a message back up to the brain telling you to relax. Lots of wonderful things happen when we relax. We sleep better,  food digest better, the process of waste products elimination is better, and even sex is better.

So, what happens if you have a shallow breathing pattern and the top of your chest and shoulders move primarily when you take air in? Say hello to your friend Cortisol — your body is thrown into a flight or fight stimulus! No one needs that extra stress, life is hard enough, so let’s break it down a bit more and get you into a correct deep breathing pattern.

How do you take a deep breath?

Although many people feel a deep breath comes solely from the expansion of the chest, chest breathing (in of itself) is not the best way to take a deep breath. While most of us never give breathing a second thought, the way we draw breath can affect our physical, mental and emotional well-being.

Breathing correctly is the path to self-healing. Besides transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide through the bloodstream, how else do you think the breath contributes to our health and well-being?

Reducing stress, sleeping better, or relieving pain – all may be as simple as becoming conscious of our breath. Deep breathing techniques can change our life!

Becoming conscious of our breath

Poor breathing habits can lead to negative health consequences—our body’s organs cannot work to their full potential without plenty of oxygen and the proper elimination of carbon dioxide. Many common health ailments such as high blood pressure, migraine headaches, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, depression, asthma, and insomnia. can be at least alleviated or completely controlled simply by making a conscious effort to breathe slowly and deeply.

Breathing properly can reduce stress levels, improve workouts and boost your immunity to infections and illnesses. Poor breathing can contribute to panic attacks and even conditions like insomnia and depression.

So, what can we do to reverse these obviously undesirable effects? Simply pause and become aware of the incoming and outgoing breath. Allow the breath’s rhythm to the center, ground and calm you. Just Breathe Consciously! 

Conscious breathing is a great form of meditation that can be easily practiced anywhere, anytime! 

Test #1: Place your hands surrounding your rib cage right under your chest and take in a big breath of air. Your ribs should move out in the front, sides, and back. Did you feel them move? They should move a lot! Maybe you only felt some of your ribs move? Did the ribs on the back left under your thumb not move as much as the right? No? There’s the source of that neck or midback tightness you’ve been feeling. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Step one: Get your ribs to expand out in a 360 fashion when you breathe.

Test #2: Did your diaphragm contract down in a deep breathing pattern with great rib expansion? Did you feel expansion right under your ribcage or did your ribcage move followed by your shoulders and your belly suck in? Now, I want you to drop a couple of fingers down under your ribcage while leaving one or two on top. Take a deep breath in. Did it expand out into your fingers right under your ribcage?

Breathing is absolutely essential to life, but it’s often overlooked as a necessity for good health. Practicing conscious breathing can help us to improve our sleep, reduce stress, and boost overall health.

Breathing properly can reduce stress levels, improve workouts and boost your immunity to infections and illnesses. Poor breathing can contribute to panic attacks and even conditions like insomnia and depression. Conscious breathing is a great form of meditation that can be easily practiced anywhere, anytime! Simply pause and become aware of the incoming and outgoing breath. Allow the breath’s rhythm to the center, ground and calm you.

Breathing is most unique as compared to other visceral (e.g. digestion, endocrine, or cardiovascular) functions in that it can also be regulated voluntarily.

Cellular metabolism (reactions in the cell to produce energy) for example, is regulated by oxygen provided during breathing. There is clear evidence that controlled breathing techniques can affect oxygen consumption and metabolism (Jerath et al., 2006). In fact, much of the aim of pranayama breathing (yogic breathing) appears to shift the autonomic nervous system away from its sympathetic (excitatory) dominance. Pranayama breathing has been shown to positively affect immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances, and psychological or stress-related disorders (Jerath et al., 2006). Jerath and colleagues add those investigations regarding stress and psychological improvements support evidence that pranayama breathing alters the brain’s information processing, making it an intervention that improves a person’s psychological profile.”

Slow pranayama breathing techniques show the most practical and physiological benefit, yet the underlying mechanism of how they work is not fully elucidated in the research (Jerath et al., 2006). However, Jerath and colleagues hypothesize that “the voluntary, slow deep breathing functionally resets the autonomic nervous system through stretch-induced inhibitory signals and hyperpolarization (slowing electrical action potentials) currents…which synchronizes neural elements in the heart, lungs, limbic system and cortex.” As well, investigations have demonstrated that slow breathing pranayama breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic (inhibitory) nervous system, thus slowing certain physiological processes down that may be functioning too fast or conflicting with the homeostasis of the cells (Jerath et al., 2006).

Thus, one meaningful aspect in learning breathing techniques is the awareness in the difference in smooth, even breathing to erratic breathing. Modifications in respiratory patterns come naturally to some individuals after one lesson, however, it may take up to six months to replace bad habits, and ultimately change the way one breathes (Sovik, 2000). The general rule, often noted in studies, and particularly observed by Gallego et al. (2001) was that if a voluntary act is repeated, “learning occurs, and the neurophysiological and cognitive processes underpinning its control may change.” Gallego et al. continue that while some changes can be made, the need for longer-term studies is warranted to better understand the attention-demanding phases involved with these breathing changes.

To summarize, Sovik suggests the characteristics of optimal breathing (at rest) are that it is diaphragmatic, nasal (inhalation and exhalation), smooth, deep, even, quiet and free of pauses.

Final Thoughts
The research is very clear that breathing exercises (e.g. pranayama breathing) can enhance parasympathetic (inhibit neural responses) tone, decrease sympathetic (excitatory) nervous activity, improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, decrease the effects of stress, and improve physical and mental health (Pal, Velkumary, and Madanmohan, 2004).