In the modern world stress is something that is negatively affecting millions of people. Although it is a natural drive that has the potential to give us the vigour and focus to move towards the fulfillment of our greatest dreams, in many people it has created an unbalanced energy in the body, which has interfered directly with the quality of their life.
In most common cases, the source of unmanageable stress is the excessive and persistent stimulation of adrenaline in the sympathetic nervous system,which prepares the body for intense physical activity, brought about by the pursuit of a demanding lifestyle and constant co-existing worries concerning the pressures of work, family, personal ambitions and cultural expectations.
If this powerful innate force were able to be controlled, it would be fine, as we both need, and could utilise, stress to reach our goals in life. The problem is that when it takes over and becomes an energy bigger than we can control, we run the risk of getting stuck in endless, paralysing, cycles of flight, fight and freeze responses, which are no longer employed (or resolved) in the manner that they were evolved in our species to do so.
The human brain developed millions of year ago during a period of scarcity, and stress was necessary for three main factors; to search for food, to reproduce and to protect us from external attack from stronger animals. We have survived as a species for a long time, and we may have this important factor in our body to thank for it. However, in contemporary civilisations, none of these things today tend to be something that demand stimulation of adrenaline, but the body keeps producing a high amount of adrenaline because it is necessary for it to function as a whole. Additionally, the nervous system responds to the internal world (thoughts, memories, and feelings) as seriously as it does to concrete threats in the environment.
So, if your body won’t stop producing adrenaline, and if you keep constantly stimulating it with uncontrollable thoughts (especially fear based thoughts) life can become unbearable, and even more important, when you really need it, to make things happen in your life that really matter to you, you may find yourself the victim of stress rather than, like the symbol of a rider on his horse, the possessor of an incredible source of power and energy.
The question is, how to utilise it when you need it and how to manage it, when you don’t want to have it, as for example, when you want to sleep, or simply enjoy time with your family and friends.
Luckily for us, nature is perfect and well balanced, and the body is always seeking to restore homeostasis. We also have the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxing the body and inhibiting or slowing many high energy functions.
Some immediate things that remedy this:
Aerobic exercise (especially resistance training, like running and cycling)
A healthy sex life
Avoid mind and mood altering substances (be careful that your “happy-hour” isn’t a sign of an addiction, making your body reliant on drugs to function)
Eat food that reduces inflammation in the body
At the DeRose Method we know the potential of stress and we know how to manage it effectively. Our practices are built on ancient philosophies which explored human potential, and aimed to evolve our incredible species to meet the challenges of a changing world.
We utilise eight key techniques that transform the physical, mental, emotional and intuitional being of the practitioner. Three of these eight are particularly important in the positive management, and utilisation, of stress; breathing techniques, relaxation exercises and concentration/meditation.
We have found that breathing techniques are the most powerful tool to manage stress. There are 52 breathing exercises in our arsenal of techniques, all with different purposes and results - which can either stimulate your nervous system or sedate it - and we have seen people, coming from the highest level of stress, serenely reach the most productive stage of their life, full of energy and creativity, by using mostly advanced breathing techniques.
Breathing techniques can temporarily alter RSA, a naturally occurring variation in heart rate that occurs during the breathing cycle, which serves as a measure of parasympathetic nervous system activity that promotes restful and restorative responses.
You can take your first step towards improving your breathing technique by yourself, beginning with these simple exercises:
Inhale deeply through your nostrils, expanding your abdomen out and then exhale, also through your nostrils, contracting your abdomen inwards (diaphragmatic breathing). Memorise this rule, when the air enters, your tummy goes out, when the air leaves, your tummy goes inwards. You may find it easier doing it laying down.
After having fully mastered this exercise, introduce a rhythm to your breath. Inhale in 3 seconds, hold your breath in 6, and exhale in 9 seconds. Do it for 5 to 10 minutes. If you find it too easy, increase to 4 - 8 - 12. The proportion of 1 - 2 - 3 is what matters.
This is a simple technique that will impact your level of stress rapidly, but there are some far more advanced ones, which provide even more amazing results, included the expansion of the consciousness and a vast increase of creativity, but which must be taught directly by a qualified teacher.
Another technique we value highly in the DeRose Method is conscious relaxation.
At the end of the class, when the student is already in a deeply embodied and conscious state, our instructors guide the practitioner to self-induce a state of deep physical, mental and emotional relaxation. Drawing the concentration away from outer awareness at this time of great receptivity post practice, the practitioner can experience a state of “dynamic sleep” which they are able to utilise to overcome undesired habits, receive intuitions and place new impressions on their subconscious mind to meet some desired objective. This state of relaxation is unmatched by any of the usual activities we relate with “relaxing” such as watching sports or TV shows, reading, having a drink with friends, all of which actually are deeply stimulating to the nervous system. By practising our relaxation techniques our students are able to learn to consciously, and of their own volition, induce these deep states of relaxation whenever they need to.
As a final note we would add that we also have meditation in our practices, but we only recommend it when it is used in conjunction with others techniques. Meditation is an advanced technology for concentration, and it would be pointless to ask someone to concentrate on anything when their head is so full of other things. For us, meditation works alongside other techniques, physical positions, and relaxation techniques for example, but never in isolation. Meditation is a commonly misused word which is often used to describe techniques which concern relaxation. At the DeRose Method we practice meditation according to its most ancient connotation, as a tool to reach a state of hyper-awareness and self-knowledge.
If you have any further questions we would be delighted to answer them, and invite you to join us for a class to experience these benefits for yourself.