Looking at these two aspects Mindfulness and Relaxation, we ask why are they connected and what do they have to do with health and wellbeing.
Humans are mammals, we are social creatures and as such we search for family and community connections. As children the Mother Child bond was our first introduction into this social connection and it was here we experienced loving bonds and unconditional love. This is the ideal scenario we speak of here, quite often as not there are different stories, however for this process we aim to look at a functional bonding process.
Unconditional love experienced leads to feelings of positively re-enforced emotions. A loving, nurturing environment allowed us to function from our natural state. This included face to face contact with mother at an early age, smiling, kisses, hugs, and affection are all interactions that keep our stress reactions turned off. Also important are the basic needs of food, shelter and recent research would have us believe that sleep and the benefits are more important than recently known.
When a child is taken away from the Mother or perceives this, the stress system; sympathetic nervous system is turned on, leading to normal states of depression from a sense of loss. When the attachment is reformed the parasympathetic nervous system turns on, this is our natural state.
Symptoms of stress overload usually occur as stress responses; heart (palpitations), gut (bloating, constipation, stomach ache) and brain (monkey mind, restless chatter). We all hold stress in different places which could manifest as beginning symptoms as pain the neck, shoulders, lower back, ankles and other places. This is where Mindfulness can help, we start by letting go of pain and reduce the mind chatter (monkey mind). Our mind is a reflection of our stress levels, the more the chatter the higher the stress and this means our natural resting state has been turned off, so the nervous system is running havoc with our bodies causing the aches and pains, which left to run havoc can lead to illness, disease or chronic stress.
Controlling our minds allows us to recognise symptoms in our body, such as stomach ache, heart palpitations and other pains. When we are in a natural state illness, pain and negative emotions are better recognised and dealt with using simple skills and techniques.
Mindfulness brings about a state of relaxation. Anxiety, depression and nervous tension are all natural states, however left for too long these can turn to chronic stress. The key is being able to return to a natural state, turning off the stress responses.
The more needs that are met such as basic needs; good nutritional food, home as a place to be yourself, rest, sleep and be comfortable inviting friends and family, safety within your work, home and community. When these basic needs are met our natural state of relaxation is enhanced therefore our natural state is our default.
Worry about tomorrow brings about unhealthy responses which distorts and damages brain development over time, as well as damaging social and familial bonds. Behaviour and communication overtime tends to become defensive and reactionary, aggressive even.
Self regulation is at the heart of Mindfulness and we begin with the very most basic way to self regulate – Our Breath!
Parenting and Relationships Expert