A calm mind without drugsTiger Woods, the “Emperor of Golf,” spends most of his day meditating in hopes of enhancing his concentration, so critical to his sport. “The Beatles” battled stress through meditation. Ms. H., a professional in her late 20s, has been taking yoga during lunchtime, under the premise of getting in shape.
More people are turning to such oriental mind and body relaxation activities to regain a peaceful mind and rid themselves of worldly thoughts and work-related pressure. Many consider it an ideal antidote to stress, due to the lack of side effects.
While stress weakens the immune system, causing insecurity, worry and worse, relaxation helps the immune system regain its strength. Stress increases one’s blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate but relaxation helps people to regain normal levels of these indicators.
In the West, yoga and meditation have become quite popular, and their health benefits proven. A study of Tibetan monks who look at a picture called a mandala and engage in deep meditation showed that their actions stabilized their brain waves.
Most of the monks’ brain waves consisted of the relaxing alpha variety, and some even had theta and delta waves, which imply a state of sleep. Research has shown that even if yoga is only one’s pastime, it can still help to decrease a person’s heart and breathing rate.
The basic principles of this activity are precise relaxation, physical training, correct breathing, adequate eating, positive thinking and of course meditation. “Patients suffering from rheumatism, arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure who turn to yoga can have the same impact as those who walk, swim and jog,” says Jin Yeong-su, director of the sports health department at Seoul’s Asan Medical Center. “It helps to decrease blood pressure and cope with stress.”
There are two main kinds of meditation: concentration and mindfulness The former is achieved by concentrating the mind on breathing, image or sound to acquire a calm mind. The latter is achieved by following the thoughts of one’s senses, be it image, thought, sound, or smell. Meditation activates the cells in the body in a way to put the mind at rest. Meditation is especially effective for those suffering from high blood pressure, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and other stress-related maladies.
Recently, British scholars found that marathoners who meditate frequently are less likely to respond to stress than those who do not meditate. Those with high blood pressure who undergo meditation are likely to experience a rate decrease of up to 33 percent in eight weeks.
Meditation has the additional effect of helping smokers quit.
This sport, also know as tai chi chuan, began in ancient China. By reinforcing the body’s chi, or energy, it helps the body cure diseases through exercise and breathing. Research in the United States and China shows that qigong helps to decrease stress and strengthen the body’s immune system.
Kim Mujinhaeng, director of the qigong class at Cha University in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province, says, “Qigong induces active circulation in the body, which in turn aids the body in healing itself. As lung capacity increases, metabolism accelerates. This is because as oxygen consumption decreases, the body’s energy storage ability increases.”
HOW TO RELIEVE STRESS DURING THE DAY
1. Seek an activity that will help you unwind
2. Think positively
3. Find some spare time, even if you have a tight schedule
4. Learn to refuse projects or other events that you do not wish to do
5. Learn to let go
6. Breathe deeply to relieve tension in the muscles
7. Refrain from alcohol and caffeine
8. Eat right and exercise regularly
by Park Tae-kyun