Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction
Energy Work, Reiki, Self-Care

Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction and Energy Work

“Breathing is massively practical,” says Belisa Vranich, a psychologist and author of the book ‘Breathe,’ …It’s meditation for people who can’t meditate.” –Source: NYTimes.com

Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction[wproto_divider style=”gap”]What I’m Reading: Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction

NYT article, “Breathe. Exhale. Repeat: The Benefits of Controlled Breathing

Author’s Key Points

Breath: An Essential of Energy Work

Did you know controlled breathing is also an important part of energy work? In qi gong, breath is considered the second of three essentials to energy work practice. As far back as 168 BCE the Chinese had already been documenting breathing techniques for health (see: 卻穀食氣, Que Gu Shi Qi). Of course, it’s not just breathing for breathing’s sake that makes the practice essential. It’s about integrating the body-mind-spirit through breath, intention and movement/posture. I love this quote from a pupil’s Qi Gong Master on the subject, “movement without breath integration has limited health benefits and practice without mind is a waste of time.”

Energy Work Breathing Techniques

Countless ‘schools’ of energy work also employ mindful breathing techniques to facilitate the shift into altered states of consciousness. Coupled with intention, the breath can also direct different energies into the body (such as Heavenly energy, Earth energy, or the Rays, etc). In Reiki, we regularly use the breath to move Reiki energy through more powerfully. We can blow Reiki symbols into the auric bodies and/or chakras; and/or we can channel Reiki through the breath when we ‘beam’ Reiki into the aura. If you’re interested in exploring the world of energy work and breathing techniques, here are some starting places for you:

Set Your Compass, then Breathe

You can learn to breathe and to breathe mindfully; but to what end? Without a compass setting for your practice, meaningful progress won’t be far in my experience. This is where studying with a teacher or within a system can be helpful if not essential. This is also why I like to teach energy work as a hybrid course with Reiki. In my opinion, it is not enough to know we can effect change with intention and practice. We also need to know why we want to do so. What are we hoping to co-create in this world through our words, actions, and exchanges? It’s this rectification of paradigm, I believe, that facilitates the necessary internal shift(s) that move us towards a more meaningful and peace-filled life.

Why and when do you breathe mindfully?

Has mindful breathing helped you in your life? How? I’d love to hear about it the comments. (PS there’s an excellent version of the Mindfulness of Breathing practice on the Insight Timer for anyone with that iPhone/iPad app, “Anapanasati Breathing Meditation,” by the Samahita Thera Forest Sangha.)

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Brain Structures Involved in Dealing with Fear and Stress (PTSD)
Acupuncture

Treating PTSD with Acupuncture

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What is PTSD?

After experiencing a life-threatening event or trauma, an individual may develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. This disorder is not just something that affects our veterans, but can arise in various populations affected by different kinds of trauma. The National Center of PTSD emphasizes that trauma can be something you hear, witness, or personally experience (as happening to you), and can include:

  • Combat exposure
  • Child sexual or physical abuse
  • Terrorist attack
  • Sexual or physical assault
  • Serious accidents, like a car wreck
  • Natural disasters (i.e. fire, tornado, hurricane, flood, etc)

Not mentioned in this list is chronic emotional abuse; however, I believe it would be appropriate to add it (see: Complex PTSD). To this end, if saying “no” is not a part of your vocabulary, you might consider reading this short piece, Codependency, Trauma and the Fawn Response, by therapist Pete Walker and/or Alice Miller’s Drama of the Gifted Child.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

The four key symptoms of this disorder include (1) Reliving the event; (2) Avoidance; (3) Hyperarousal; and (4) Negative changes in emotions, thoughts and beliefs. Beyond these, individuals with PTSD might also experience difficulty sleeping, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and chronic pain among other symptoms.

The Fight or Flight Response

PTSD and Acupuncture

Acupuncture’s popularity as an adjunctive therapy for PTSD (alongside counseling and medication) continues to grow. I’m continually amazed at how specific we can get with auricular acupuncture treatment — see the areas affected in the fight or flight response to the right? We have acupoints that specifically target the amygdala, hypothalamus, cortisol, and ACTH. Pretty amazing!

Seeking Care

There is a long list of acupuncture clinics nationwide that offer no-cost or low-cost care to Veterans in particular. For everyone else, one-on-one treatments are becoming more affordable as many insurance carriers now reimburse for acupuncture; and there are also community clinics that offer low cost treatment held in group settings.

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