Relaxation is an essential Serenity Medicine. We could even say it is the goal of Serenity Medicine.
Relaxation is not just taking a nap, or chilling out.
Relaxation leads to and builds on the "relaxation response" — a feeling of increased well-being . Breathing slows, blood pressure drops, heart rate calms, muscle tension relaxes, and cortisol levels decrease.
The effects of a relaxation practice linger for months, even without further practice.
And they are cumulative. Those who practice the most, get the most.
Much research has been done on the health benefits of relaxation.
Relaxation/meditation/serenity medicines have been shown to:
* Reduce insomnia
* Strengthen the immune system
* Increase levels of feel-good chemicals, such as serotonin
* Widen restricted respiratory passages
* Increase calmness; reduce anxiety.
* Create a more coherent sense of self and identity
* Improve emotional regulation
* Reduce the need for insulin in some diabetics
* Increase levels of antibodies and natural killer (NK) cells
* Increase resilience after emotional stress
* Counter social anxiety
* Reduce the frequency and severity of chronic headaches
* Lower cholesterol levels
* Lower blood pressure and keep it low
* Help us access our inner healer
* Increase volume of grey matter in the happiness area of the brain (right precuneus)
* Effectively treat obsessive-compulsive disorders
* Help to decrease avoidance/suppression of emotions
* Decrease over-arousal and heightened emotional reactivity
* Reduce/replace cognitive distortions, psychoses, substance abuse, and self-harming behavior
* Improve objectivity in emotional/morally difficult situations
* Counter anxiety associated with medical procedures
* Ease labor pain; ease chronic pain in children/adolescents
* Stop chemotherapy-induced nausea
* Ease TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction)
* Reduce multiple dimensions of psychological stress (US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
Serenity Medicines like progressive relaxation, autogenic training, biofeedback-assisted relaxation, meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing, especially when combined with prayer, guided imagery, and self-hypnosis can be remarkably useful for those dealing with PTSD, ADHD, eating disorders, psoriasis, life-threatening illness, and those who wish to stop using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
Excerpt from Abundantly Well: Seven Medicines