Meditation and Stress Management

Last time I talked about why you just might want to ‘manage’ your stress and unconvincing as that article may have been, my primary point was that shiatsu is only one piece of the puzzle. Regardless of what brings you to shiatsu, whether it is a family crisis that doesn’t allow you to sleep, a running injury or just the ‘need’ for deep relaxation, you will need a strategy that penetrates your life more completely than even the rare luxury of weekly visits to a body-worker could ever bring.

I would also indeed like a life that allows me both financially and logistically to have shiatsu at least once a week but until that time (and even after) what can I do to keep everything on point and humming smoothly? What are you going to do to augment the occasional deep tissue work, Rolfing or Tibetan point holding?

I mentioned that traditionally shiatsu or tuina is part of a continuum of natural approaches to fighting illness that begins with meditation, moves to nutrition, and continues with movement therapy, before arriving at bodywork. When bodywork is not adequate then herbs (oral medicines), acupuncture and surgery follow. Some argue that nutrition is more accessible than meditation and perhaps should be at the top of the list and there are merits to that argument but my response is that the mind is at the root, managing and controlling all approaches to nutrition as well as movement therapy (like dao yin or yoga) so its logical to start there.

Unfortunately when described as I have above, the whole process seems like a prioritized list, a kind of triage. “I shouldn’t look at my nutrition until I’ve exhausted the possibilities of meditation” for example but that’s not what I’m getting at. What I’m saying is that don’t forget the whole, even when a single theme or health issue is begging for your complete attention. It would seem to be simple common sense but it is not natural. What is more natural is for the mind is to give more emphasis to negative stimulus, for the impressions of negative experiences to have greater weight in our consciousness and for us to pay more attention to things that we perceive as a threat than to things that are positive or that bring “hapines.” A conscious and continued effort to balance these aspects of the mind (which incidentally have specific advantages for our survival) with meditation helps us to gain greater perspective and help us to manage our stress and oversee the complete spectrum of our health. ‘Am I getting enough sleep? Why not? How might that effect x, y, or z? Did I drink just a bit too much absinthe etc?’

So gaining meditative stability could be considered a first step in achieving optimum health, perhaps more for its downstream effects than directly, but in the worlds of qi gong, and internal martial arts, intimate familiarity with and control of the mind has direct, palpable effects on energy, health, power and ‘enlightenment.’ But that’s a fish that’s too big to fry in this blog. Happy New Year and stay on point. Peace.

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