One of the most effective stress management methods is exercise, especially exercise that combines movement, breathing, and concentration. Exercise neutralizes stress hormones and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Exercising while concentrating on the body allows us to feel and slowly eliminate any tension we have. It is a form of meditation that allows the mind to clear and become grounded in our body, which prepares us to face future stressful situations.
One of the most effective stress management meridian exercises is Dahn Yoga Energy Breathing. Relieve chronic stress by practicing Dahn Yoga Energy Breathing every day for three to five minutes for each of the five postures. If holding any posture becomes too painful or difficult, change to the next one. Keep your body relaxed, especially your shoulders and chest, and focus on feeling your breath as you move sequentially through the postures.
Posture 1: Relaxation
Posture 2: Accumulation
Posture 3: Circulation 1
Posture 4: Circulation 2
Posture 5: Relaxation and Accumulation
You can find more detailed instructions on Dahn Yoga Energy Breathing in the book, Dahn Yoga Basics, on the audio CD, Dahn Yoga Energy Breathing (Self-Training CD), or on the DVD Dahn Yoga Essentials.
Chronic stress takes a huge toll on our lives. In fact, stress-related disorders make up 80 to 90 percent of the diseases from which people suffer.
To manage stress effectively, we need to keep our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in balance. Our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest and digest” functions of the body while the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” functions. Balance between these two polar states will keep us alert while not letting stress get out of hand.
This balance can be achieved with simple mind-body exercises such as this Dahn Yoga Head Stimulation exercise.
When you’ve finished this exercise you will feel happier and have less tension; smiling and laughing are proven stress management methods. They reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and increase “feel good” hormones such as endorphins.
Whether or not you have a reason to smile or laugh, doing so will send signals to your brain that you are happy and your brain will automatically create this state. So for effective stress management, smile and laugh often and life will suddenly have a silver lining.
Stimulating your scalp with your fingertips is also effective for stress management because it releases any tension around your head to promote relaxation and clear thinking. Focusing on the head is particularly helpful because there tends to be more tension around the head, especially with the sedentary, computer and TV-driven lifestyle most people lead. There are also many acupressure points in the head, so stimulating the scalp can relieve the tension in your whole body.
The combined effect on your hormones of smiling/laughing and scalp stimulation balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system for effective stress management. You can find more exercises for balancing these two crucial systems in Ilchi Lee’s book Meridian Exercises for Self-Healing.
“Stress management” is a hot catchphrase in natural health these days. However, many people do not realize that effective stress management starts with brain enhancement. How a person thinks about themselves and their environment, and what they value, affects how they interpret a particular situation. If they interpret it as stressful or dangerous, their brains send signals to their bodies to create a “fight or flight” stress response. Getting this process under control can make a huge difference in people’s overall level of stress.
To change this habit, people first have to change the information they hold in their brain, the information that influences how they interpret their inner and outer environment. While a stress response is necessary in certain situations, for many people it has become a mental habit. This leads to a state of chronic stress and ultimately to the development of various stress-related diseases. Enhancing the brain by developing a more positive mental outlook reduces or eliminates the stress response and enables solutions to problems to be found.
Much advice has been given about how to think positively. One can repeat positive mantras or look for a silver lining in a difficult situation. Aerobic exercise, which sends oxygenated blood and endorphins to the brain, can also help the brain become more positive. It is also well- documented that deep abdominal breathing and stretching can create a calm mind that is resistant to negative thoughts and stress.
However, according to Ilchi Lee in his recent book, Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life, the simplest way is to simply shake away negative thoughts or “brain waves,” leaving behind positive ones that the brain naturally wants to produce. This sort of exercise can be performed almost anywhere by anyone. Performing it even when one is not stressed can create a more calm and productive response to potentially stressful future situations.
This exercise is known as Brain Wave Vibration. It can be performed simply by shaking the head to create a vibration in the brain. As the head and neck relax, this vibration can then travel down the spine to the entire body. One can even add visualization to this exercise to make it more effective. Just imagine a light that starts in the brain and travels over the entire body, pushing away stress and tension from the body.
In addition to changing thinking patterns from negative to positive, Brain Wave Vibration relaxes tension in muscles and organs, further helping to reduce the effects of stress.
Used as a simple method of natural health maintenance, Brain Wave Vibration has been shown to quickly clear the mind, making way for the positive mindset necessary for stress management. For more information about Brain Wave Vibration, please visit www.brainwavevibration.com.
Dahn Yoga is one of the first Brain Education methods developed by Ilchi Lee. An integrated mind-body self improvement method based on thousands- year-old Korean techniques, it combines meridian exercises, deep stretching exercises, meditative breathing techniques, joint rotation, held postures, body tapping, vibration exercises, relaxation techniques, and energy awareness training. Its objective is to help practitioners achieve their highest level of personal potential.
The traditional name for Dahn Yoga is "Dahnhak", which literally means "the study of energy". In Korean "Dahn" refers to the primal, vital energy which is essential to all life forms, and “Hak” refers to the study of a particular theory or philosophy. Thus, a Dahnhak practitioner is one who studies the system of energy for the purpose of personal self -development.
During Dahn Yoga training, practitioners learn to communicate with their bodies through energy. The body’s energy circulation is stimulated, activating its innate natural healing power and releasing any emotional baggage. Through consistent practice, practitioners can lead themselves back to optimal health. Essentially, they regain true mastership over their bodies through the medium of energy (Ki).
According to Dahn Yoga’s philosophical framework, humans have three bodies: a physical body, an energy body, and a spiritual body (the body of information they hold about themselves and their world). The energy body connects the physical body and the spiritual body. Because any wellness program must take all three bodies into account, Dahn Yoga’s study of energy is essential and is incorporated in every aspect of self improvement, including dieting and losing weight.
A Dahn Yoga diet encompasses more than the healthy foods, portion control, and fat-burning exercises needed for the physical body. Before starting, a goal and the reasons for it should be declared to involve the help of the spiritual body. Giving oneself encouraging messages along the way also employs all of the powers of the brain for this physical goal. Because Dahn Yoga contends that the brain is the center of the human body and its energy system, it must be actively engaged in order for any endeavor to be successful. Since extra weight is often the result of stagnant energy remaining in the body, Dahn Yoga’s energy circulation techniques must also be practiced regularly.
Dahn Yoga was created for people who want to live better lives and gain brain health, relaxation, pain relief, stress relief, and flexibility and balance of body and mind, even while managing their busy, hectic lives. One of the advantages of Dahn Yoga is that it is easy and simple enough for anyone to learn, yet challenging for even the most advantaged practitioner. Anyone—male or female, young or old—can enjoy the various programs and benefits of Dahn Yoga.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, unpredictable, and often disabling disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) that results in mild to severe symptoms ranging from numbness of the limbs, poor coordination, and slurred speech to loss of vision, problems with memory and concentration, and even paralysis. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from person to person.
Most people with multiple sclerosis learn to cope with the disease and continue to lead satisfying, productive lives. There are some medications that help them manage their symptoms and that slow down the disease. However, exercise and other healthy habits are also essential and effective.
One woman with MS, Cathy Downie, discovered that Dahn Yoga reduced the severity of her symptoms when she began practicing it in 2005. Although she had tried other forms of yoga before with some success, Dahn Yoga worked the best at alleviating her fatigue, pain, and especially her stress. Dahn Yoga also helped her gain mental focus, which can be weakened by multiple sclerosis.
As she improved, Cathy started working with the MS Foundation and the Dahn Foundation to teach Dahn Yoga stretching, breathing, relaxation, energy meditations, and brain exercises to other people with MS. The response of her students was so inspiring that BEST Life Media produced a yoga video in DVD format featuring certified Dahn Yoga Instructor Dawn Quaresima teaching a step-by-step Dahn Yoga program for multiple sclerosis.
The Dahn Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis Yoga Video features interviews with MS patients who have practiced Dahn Yoga. It demonstrates the basics of Dahn Yoga, and teaches viewers how to utilize sitting, standing, and floor positions, how to gain energy through simple breathing techniques, and how to quiet the mind for meditation. Through this yoga video, people with multiple sclerosis can effectively manage many of their symptoms.
Meridian exercise is an exercise program for self-healing that is based on the concept in Asian medicine that for total health, Ki (also spelled chi or qi) energy must circulate smoothly through pathways called meridian channels in the body. Meridian exercise programs for self- healing combine stretching, rotation, relaxation, and vibration exercises with proper breathing and focus on the body, making practitioners increasingly sensitive to Ki energy and therefore their bodies’ needs.
Two simple yet effective meridian exercises are “Circulation Exercise” and “Intestine Exercise”. Both techniques help spread Ki energy throughout the body from the lower abdomen, helping to circulate blood and the oxygen it carries, as well as eliminating toxins.
While beneficial for anyone to practice, Circulation Exercise is especially helpful for people who experience high blood pressure, heart disease, rheumatism, or bronchial asthma. It helps to ease the symptoms of thyroid disorders and diseases of the skin as well.To do Circulation Exercise:
Intestine Exercise softens intestines and helps remedy constipation and other digestive problems. You can perform the exercise in a variety of positions—sitting, lying down, or standing--any time and any place. It’s best to practice them every day. Combine Intestine Exercise with Abdominal Breathing for maximum benefit. If you experience pain in the intestines during this exercise, stop and gently rub the abdomen in a clockwise motion, massaging the intestines with your palms, until the pain subsides.To do Intestine Exercise:
Meridian exercise is different from general exercise because of its attention to the body’s Ki energy flow. Its synchronous movements can have far-reaching healing benefits. If you maintain a meridian exercise program for self-healing consistently, you can significantly heal the symptoms that cause you distress.
As healthcare costs continue to rise, methods of disease prevention gain more and more attention. Proper diet and exercise are the obvious mainstays of disease prevention, in addition to regular health screenings. But how can one exercise can really make a difference?
Meridian exercise is a specific kind of exercise based on traditional Asian medicine. Stretching and joint rotation movements are combined with proper breathing, focus, and body posture to open the energy meridian system of the body and to balance the energy of related organs. Through meridian exercise, the body’s natural self-healing processes are activated and enhanced, preventing disease from developing as well as helping the body eliminate disease more quickly and minimize its symptoms.
How does meridian exercise do this? According to Asian tradition, there is an energy called Ki (Chi or Qi) that flows through channels or pathways (meridians) running from the feet to the head and from the head to the hands. Ki is a vital energy that is the basic life force of the body. In a healthy body, Ki moves and flows freely through the meridian channels. When Ki is blocked from flowing freely, tension and disease result in both body and mind since Ki is the bridge that links them. By removing these blockages, meridian exercise maintains and restores health. Acupuncture and acupressure work on the same principles.
Therefore, a daily meridian exercise program is ideal for preventing disease naturally. The exercises are so simple that even people who are not physically fit or who have limited mobility can do many of them. Abdominal breathing is foundational to any meridian exercise program:
Daily practice of abdominal breathing and other meridian exercises is ideal for managing stress, relieving pain, and preventing disease. This self-healing program can also be performed in combination with any other exercise program. Thousands of years of Asian wisdom can now be used by anyone to maximize the body’s potential to heal and maintain itself.
A comprehensive resource for meridian exercise is the book Meridian Exercise for Self-Healing: Classified by Common Symptoms by Ilchi Lee (BEST Life Media, 2008).
In the United States alone, about 3.4 percent of women experience the debilitating pain, fatigue, muscle tenderness, and insomnia of fibromyalgia. While there is no cure, a number of treatments exist to alleviate symptoms and create a better quality of life. Along with medical care, a number of people turn to alternative therapies for treatment.
According to Timothy McCall, MD, medical advisor to Yoga Journal, a 1999 study at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center led by Patrick Randolph, Ph.D. found that a “program of gentle yoga stretches and mindfulness meditation reduced pain and improved patients' ability to cope with it.” Another study in 2007, published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine by G.D. da Silva and others from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, showed that 40 women with fibromyalgia all benefitted from “eight weekly sessions of stretching, breathing, and relaxing yogic techniques.”
Some of yoga’s benefits are thought to be derived from its stress management function. Stress often exacerbates fibromyalgia symptoms, and according to the National Fibromyalgia Association, reducing stress, getting more rest, and practicing relaxation can help reduce symptoms and enhance quality of life. Some specific benefits are:
Because of the particular health needs of women with fibromyalgia, Dr. McCall and women with fibromyalgia with a yoga practice such as Anita Murray and Shakti Huss, give the following advice for starting your own practice:
One gentle yoga exercise recommended by Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee is Intestine Exercise. This exercise facilitates better circulation throughout the body. As with other exercises, start gently at first, especially if experiencing some discomfort:
Before starting any exercise, check with your physician. Do a little yoga every day for consistent results, rather than for longer periods less often.
Proper nutrition and exercise—developing a healthy lifestyle—are the best ways to lose weight and keep it off. Traditional Asian medicine, however, offers additional insight into those extra pounds you would like to be rid of. Like most unhealthy conditions in your body, it says that excess fat is a result of life energy that is not moving, and that it represents thoughts or emotions that you are holding on to.
When you do meridian exercises that get the energy in your body circulating, just as when you do acupressure, you release this stagnant energy. Traditional Asian medicine says that as a result of releasing this energy, you improve your immune system, revitalize your metabolism, and enhance hormone function in general. Therefore, exercises that are specifically designed to circulate the life energy in your body are an important part of any weight loss or healthy lifestyle regimen. While there are many meridian exercises, one that is key for weight loss is body tapping. A very simple, ancient exercise, body tapping can open all the meridian channels through which energy flows. Through tapping, cells are strengthened as they are stimulated and acupressure points are opened.
Anyone can do this exercise, regardless of their age or physical condition. If someone is truly immobile, another person can tap their body for them to receive the same benefit, kind of like getting a massage.
In general, when you tap your body, pat gently and comfortably, and allow your eyes to follow your movements. If you feel discomfort in any area you are tapping, pat more lightly. This is particularly important if you experience stomach distress. Also, do not press into the area. Instead, gently rub your hands together and lightly massage that area. Focus on the sensations in each area of your body as you tap it.
Here is a sequence of tapping with your palms that you can follow for maximum circulation:
The final abdominal tapping will stimulate, strengthen, and soften your intestines to restore normal peristaltic movement to help eliminate poorly digested food and toxins. This effect will boost weight loss, especially in the abdominal area, and will relieve constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Practice tapping your whole body every day as a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle and weight loss regimen. You can find more meridian exercises for weight loss at a local Dahn Yoga Center (www.dahnyoga.com) or in the book Meridian Exercise for Self-Healing by Ilchi Lee.
The Dahn Yoga Diet Program is a weight loss program is based on the Asian medical concept that the “energy” (ki, chi, or qi) in your body needs to flow in order for your body to be healthy. Excess fat is usually viewed as energy that has stagnated and accumulated. Once that stagnant energy begins to move, you will begin to shed fat from your body very easily and naturally.
Your food choices have an effect on your energy flow. While some guidelines can be given, the most helpful foods for keeping your energy flowing are individual to each person. In general, you should eat fresh, unprocessed foods, especially plenty of vegetables. Avoid eating too many deserts, refined grains, or foods that are very cold. Cold food tenses your digestive system, restricting its movement. Tension is the opposite of healthy, flowing energy.
To choose the right foods, you must listen to your body. Listening to your body means really paying attention to it, especially while you are eating. The best foods to eat make you feel lighter or stronger overall. They feel good even after they have passed over your taste buds. Since there are no restrictions on what foods you can eat as part of the Dahn Yoga Diet Program, it will take some time to experiment with different foods and learn which ones feel better than others.
Feeling your body will also tell you how much to eat. Feel your stomach so that you know when it is hungry. When it feels almost full, you know you’ve had enough to eat.
The Dahn Yoga Diet Program includes daily Dahn Yoga exercises to dislodge and circulate the stagnant energy in your body to help you lose weight. Here are two simple and effective exercises you can try:
True beauty is the external reflection of an inner balance. To get that radiant glow that will light up your features, nurture yourself on the inside.
One of the easiest ways to create the internal happiness and peace that will make people wonder, “What did you do to yourself?” is to smile for no reason at all. According to a study by Dr. William Fry of Stanford University, smiling stimulates the human brain to release morphine-like chemicals naturally that inhibit infection and lessen pain. Smiling also reduces stress-related hormones and increases heart rate and blood circulation, which will not only elevate your mood, but also improve the appearance of your skin.
Various studies also show that you do not have to be happy when you smile to create these beneficial effects. Merely raising the ends of your lips in a mock smile will provoke a positive biological and psychological response in the brain and body. Admittedly, it is difficult to smile when faced with a challenging or painful situation. At first, you might feel tension from competing emotions. But if you hold the smile you will find positive thoughts and emotions eventually overriding the negative ones automatically.
When you combine smiling with breathing and concentration, as in meditation, its effect is compounded. It’s even stronger when your smile grows into a full-bodied laugh. Practicing the following meditation from Ilchi Lee’s Brain Education System Training (BEST) regularly, at best every day, will make it easier and easier for you to release stress and create happiness inside, without being overly affected by external circumstances.
Eventually you will be able to create the same end state by just smiling and taking a deep breath. Then you will be able to smile easily with true peace and happiness, making yourself and the people around you look and feel beautiful.
Ilchi Lee, originator of BEST, is a brain philosopher and educator with about thirty years of experience developing mind-body programs that promote health, happiness, and peace. He is president of the International Brain Education Association and the Korea Institute of Technology, an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations. Lee has authored thirty books and his BEST methods are used around the world.
Brain Education (BE) is a self improvement system designed to improve brain fitness, as well as overall health and wellness. It was developed by Ilchi Lee and the Korea Institute of Brain Science, a non- governmental organization in consultative status with the United Nations. This 5-step system includes physical, emotional, and cognitive exercises including postures, breathing techniques, vibration exercises, guided imagery, healing massage, brain exercises, relaxation techniques, and games. Its exercises stimulate the healthy, dynamic and productive functioning of the body and brain, improving sensory awareness, motor control, balance, emotional regulation, stress management, pain relief, attention, and imagination. Based on proven body-brain fitness concepts, Brain Education is accessible to anyone of any age or fitness level and can be adapted for use in schools, businesses, and other organizations. Thousands of people already embrace Brain Education as a valuable means of achieving their health and wellness goals.The 5 Steps of Brain Education
1st Step: Sensitizing
2nd Step: Versatilizing
3rd Step: Refreshing
4th Step: Integrating
5th Step: Mastering
Other Benefits of Brain Education
Overall well-being and stress management
Emotional well-being and social interactions
Ilchi Lee has spent the past three decades investigating ways to develop the potential of the human brain. During that time he developed many training programs and methods, organized numerous projects and events, authored 31 books, and founded a variety of for-profit and non- profit organizations.
The latest result of Ilchi Lee's research and innovation, Brain Education System Training (BEST), aims to help people become the masters of their brains and ultimately of their lives. BEST is a practical five- step process for unleashing the brain's unlimited potential. It includes brain exercises to increase mind-body coordination, to develop greater openness and flexibility of the mind, to enhance overall brain fitness, and to unleash the creative potential of the brain. The hundreds of training programs that he has created are part of BEST.
Ilchi Lee books communicate BEST methods to a wide audience. From Dahn Yoga to Meridian Exercise to Brain Wave Vibration and more, Ilchi Lee books are valuable resources for studying the BEST method and improving brain fitness, stress management, and overall health and wellness.
Through Ilchi Lee’s projects, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have achieved the benefits of healthier bodies, improved learning, business success, and personal empowerment. He personally has trained and consulted top business leaders, such as Ju Yung Chung, founder of Hyundai Cooperation and Jong Hyon Chey, founder of SK Corporation. He has taught his self improvement method in many parts of the world, including the United States, South Korea, China, United Kingdom, Canada, and Japan.
Ultimately, all of Ilchi Lee’s work has been motivated by a deep love for humanity and a desire to create a peaceful, sustainable way of life on the planet. Believing that lasting peace begins in the hearts and minds of individuals, he has reached out to people in ways that improve their lives. To him the most effective form of peace activism is healing one person at a time by reaching out with love and compassion, and enabling others to do the same.
Like the rest of the body, the brain can be described as healthy or not, or somewhere in between. And like the body, the brain needs care, rejuvenation, enhancement, and training in order to work at its optimal potential
Ilchi Lee has designed a system for brain enhancement and training called Brain Education System Training or BEST. As described in his book, Principles of Brain Management: A Practical Approach for Making the Most of Your Brain, BEST consists of five steps to brain mastery, focusing especially on using the brain for goal achievement.These steps are:
These steps can be followed in order or can be engaged in simultaneously. Each have a set of body and brain exercises, as well as workshops and programs, to help us progress through them. The final step, Brain Mastering, is actually an ongoing step, one of continual brain enhancement while achieving our goals.
All of BEST Life Media’s products are intended to be used in conjunction with this system, which is based on the idea that we have infinite power over our brains, and that the secret to life management lies in brain management.
There are so many gadgets and programs available today for enhancing brain function, particularly for improving your memory. They offer many tips and tools, as well as personal support. But you can start enhancing your memory on your own right now--not by changing how you recall memories, but by improving how well you create them in the first place.
Try these eight brain enhancement tips for improving your memory:
As you continue to use these brain enhancement tips for creating more solid new memories, they will also help you keep them. In addition to memory improvement, brain enhancement techniques for other cognitive abilities will help keep your brain active and agile throughout your life.
What is brain vitality? According to a dictionary, vitality is physical and mental strength and vigor, a "capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence", or “the power to live or grow.” Vitality really starts from the brain, as this organ is responsible for the management of our body and our lives.
But to have brain vitality, to give our brains the power to live or grow, we need to "manage" our brain. Rather than being passive observers of our brain’s condition and activity, we actually have the opportunity and responsibility to take care of it. Brain vitality is actually a "use it or lose it" characteristic.
But there is no quick fix. One scientific study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that the more stimulating and intellectually challenging we make our lives, the better our odds are of keeping our aging brains vital, sharp, and agile. Eating well, sleeping well, exercising our bodies, and challenging our minds regularly are the “secrets” to brain management and vitality. So is putting positive and useful information into our brains while removing the negative. One tool for mastering the mind in this way is meditation.
According to the August 4, 2003 TIME Magazine article "Just Say Ohm" scientific studies have shown time and time again that meditation improves focus. It is designed to quiet the conscious mind in order to allow an awareness of the body and the subconscious mind in the present moment. After meditating, people have reported feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated. It can also bring up ideas or solutions of which we were not aware previously.
However, according to Ilchi Lee in his recent book, co-authored with Jessie Jones, Ph.D., In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging, to really awaken and revitalize the brain, we need to have a vision or goal on which to focus. A vision will motivate the brain to use its full potential, exercising it in a way that helps maintain its vitality and fitness. For detailed guidance in brain vitality meditations, including vision meditations, you can consult In Full Bloom or Ilchi Lee’s Brain Vitality Meditation CD.
Rather than being passive observers to our brain’s condition and activity, we actually have the opportunity and responsibility to take care of it. Brain vitality is actually a “use it or lose it” characteristic. One study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine showed that the more stimulating and intellectually challenging we make our lives, the better our odds are of keeping our aging brains vital, sharp, and agile.
For example, the book In Full Bloom: A Brain Education Guide for Successful Aging, offers this advice for keeping our brains stimulated and healthy:
“The first night after I learned how to do Brain Wave Vibration, I practiced it to rid myself from pain. I was asleep in bed, and had a severe muscle cramp in my right quadricep. The cramp would not go away, so I thought about taking one of my leg cramp pills. Then I thought that if I continued to rely on the pills, I would essentially be a slave to the pills because I would be dependent on them. I decided to try Brain Wave Vibration to see if it would help make the pain go away. I sat on the edge of my bed and shook my head from side to side. At the same time I imagined the pain from my legs coming up through my body and then leaving my body as I exhaled. After about five minutes, my pain in both legs was gone, and I was able to go back to sleep. I felt elated that I was able to stop pain with such a simple procedure.”
Like Patrick, millions of people around the world suffer from pain, both occasional and chronic. His experience offers an example of how some pain can be dealt with on one’s own without medication and its side effects. Some holistic healing methods of pain relief include herbal treatments, exercise, deep breathing techniques, self-hypnosis, acupuncture, music therapy, yoga, biofeedback, magnet therapy, massage, meditation, and relaxation therapy.
Research by Robert Kerns, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University, and the National Program Director for Pain Management at the Veterans Health Administration, has indicated that “a person's thinking could really affect their pain experience. Therapy that helps people feel they are in some control over their thoughts and emotions--keeping a journal, practicing relaxation techniques, or biofeedback--that help them manage their negative feelings and alleviate their suffering, was shown to reduce stress and pain. Our chronic pain isn't beyond our control."
A recent method of pain management developed by Dahn Yoga and Brain Education founder Ilchi Lee gives practitioners this sense of control. It expands on the “shaking medicine” of shamans and the healing powers of meditation and music. Called Brain Wave Vibration, its simplest form involves shaking the head while focusing on the center of the head cavity. As tension in the head and neck relaxes, the vibrations created by the shaking travel down to the shoulders and then to the rest of the body. While moving their body, it’s important for practitioners to follow their own internal, natural rhythm in order to create a stronger connection between mind and body.
It’s often thought by many holistic healthcare providers that a strong mind-body connection helps natural healing to take place more readily in body and mind. In the case of Brain Wave Vibration, the vibrations created help reduce or eliminate mind chatter and increase focus—like a moving meditation. With extraneous thoughts out of the way, the brain can better pay attention to the body.
Anecdotal evidence about Brain Wave Vibration has indicated that keeping a goal in one’s mind while doing the technique helps with that goal’s achievement. As Patrick Ruz demonstrated, focusing on the pain while keeping thoughts of healing in the mind and moving the body instinctively helps relieve or eliminate pain.
Besides eliminating pain, Brain Wave Vibration has the added benefit of lightening your mood, relaxing your body, and bringing you inner peace. Using that or other simple methods of pain management you can do on your own will enable you to take control of your pain and your health without as much reliance on medication.
It may seem intuitive that our mind’s activity would affect our brain’s biology, but now new research is supporting that assumption. It reveals that meditation and other techniques affect brain fitness at the level of your genes—turning genes on or off that are associated with free radicals, inflammation, and cell aging, which affect cell and tissue damage. They have also been shown to affect our body’s “fight or flight” response to stressors.
In fact, according to an article by Michelle Andrews in the May 4, 2009 issue of the Baltimore Sun (“How to beat stress and angst through meditation”), one study on individuals who were meditation novices showed changes in brain and behavior after two weeks of daily 30-minute meditation sessions.
While it can’t eliminate all of your problems, Richard Davidson, director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says, "It can transform the emotional brain in ways that promote higher levels of resilience (and) less vulnerability and affect the body in ways that can improve health."
There are many different kinds of meditation, and many places and people available to train you in meditation. But here is a simple one from Principles of Brain Management by Ilchi Lee that you can try right now:
How do you feel now? Keeping this feeling requires consistent practice. As Davidson says, "This is mental exercise. If one wants (benefits) to continue, you have to continue." So try and practice this every day for long-term results.
Have you ever set a goal for yourself and then made a plan, but found it difficult to carry out? Do you find yourself falling into habits that defeat what you’re really trying to achieve? Sometimes we beat ourselves up for habits we find it hard to change, when really we just don’t have the right tools to change them.
Ilchi Lee, a brain philosopher and educator, believes that if you want to change your habits, you first have to change your brain. He developed a brain-development system called Brain Education to help people create the lives that they want.
Brain Education consists of a myriad of mind and body exercises modernized from ancient Asian practices. All Brain Education programs use and fit into five steps.
Step 1: Brain Sensitizing--enhances your awareness of how your body feels and of the many thoughts in your mind. It helps you center yourself in your body. Try this exercise for strengthening your center:
Balance on your right foot while bringing your left foot up to your right knee. Hold the pose for as long as you can and then switch your legs. Then try it with your eyes closed. Focus your mind on the center of your body, which is inside your abdomen two inches below your navel.
Step 2: Brain Versatilizing--makes your brain more flexible, creative, and quick. Try this exercise for preventing your brain from being stuck in the same old patterns:
Look around the room and give new names to all of the objects in it.
Step 3: Brain Refreshing—releases old thoughts or emotions that maintain negative habits or prevent you from achieving your goals. Try this exercise for uncluttering your brain:
Relax and breathe deeply from your lower abdomen. Visualize any thought or emotion that no longer serves you as the tension in your body. As you continue to relax, visualize a bright light piercing through the tension as if it was a dark cloud. Breathe out the darkness through your mouth with a gentle smile.
Step 4: Brain Integrating--helps all of the parts of your brain and body to work together. Try this exercise for rallying all of your parts for a single purpose:
Relax and slowly imagine what you would really like to be or to create. Then write a simple slogan based on your picture to help focus your brain on it. Make a plan for how you would like to create this picture, and spend a little time each day reflecting: Was your behavior in line with your picture? What could you do differently in the future?
Step 5: Brain Mastering--helps you create a lifestyle based on your goals and overcome any obstacles to them. Try this exercise for boosting your strength and confidence in overcoming obstacles:
Do as many pushups as you can with your hands in line with your shoulders and your feet together and back straight. Set a goal for the number of pushups you would like to do without stopping. Add at least one push-up every day until you reach your goal.
Practicing these five steps will help you take charge and train your brain to create the life that you want.