Click here to listen to this episode of the Discover Health Podcast: Finding Your Calm
Watch this full webinar on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/-QtWsg9fJm8
Welcome everyone to this webinar entitled “Finding Your Calm.” I’m so excited to have you all joining me for this event. My name is Dr. Trish Murray. I am a physician, a best-selling author, and I am the Health Catalyst Speaker. I absolutely love helping people manage their stress and find their calm. Let’s get started by talking first about the negative effects of stress.
The stress response actually is a protective mechanism; however, when the stress response does not turn off, if it’s chronically on and never turns off, the negative effects can impact our overall health.Click To Tweet Webmd.com has compiled a list of emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms that can happen to us negatively, of course, in relation to chronic stress.
The emotional symptoms of stress can include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- You may notice that you’re avoiding others
Some physical symptoms of negative stress are:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhea or constipation and sometimes nausea
- Musculoskeletal aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Chronically cold hands and cold feet
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Constant worrying
- Thoughts that are racing and won’t quiet down
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to stay focused
- Poor judgment
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side of things
The final category that WebMD discusses is behavioral symptoms of stress such as:
- Changes in appetite – either not eating or the opposite (eating too much)
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, or pacing
Now, ask yourself – do any of these sound familiar for you?
Now, prolonged stress can either cause or exacerbate many serious health problems. Common issues include:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation for men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women
- Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema as well as permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as heartburn, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and of course irritable bowel syndrome (the most common diagnosis in the gastroenterology world)
- Thyroid gland dysfunction – cortisol actually inhibits the function of the thyroid gland and the production of thyroid hormone. It’s one of the common causes of hypo- or hyperthyroidism.
In chapter four of my first book, Make a D.E.N.T. in Chronic Disease, I discuss stress in detail. I discuss how the typical person’s level of stress daily has changed enormously over the last fifty years and how children in particular live a more stressful life in that they don’t go outside and play like we did forty or fifty years ago. Instead, they’re scheduled, and so are we as adults. We are scheduled all the time to constantly be busy, to go to sport practices, take an art or dance class, or attend a club or community group for the kids. Of course, work and our responsibilities as adults. Of course, right now and for almost a year with the COVID-19 pandemic, kids and adult alike are more stressed than any of us are used to as our lives have been turned upside down and disrupted in so many ways.
But not all stress is bad. Some of the most famous and accomplished people in history have faced extreme failures and challenges in their lives, but these failures and these challenges, these stressors are what pushed them to reach their full potential. I discuss in chapter four of my book people like Michael Jordan, Stephen King, and Abraham Lincoln are some examples of people that were pushed by their failures and their challenges and actually made them more successful.
In chapter four of my book, I then discuss probably the most important thing about finding your calm, and that is perception. Perception is the key thing to work on in relation to your stress. You see, negative perception of your stress increases stress, irritation, frustration, helplessness, and hopelessness. If these are your perceptions of events in your life, then obviously you are going to be more stressed. Whereas a more positive perception of stress or challenging situation as a motivating force, such as gratitude for the challenges in life and the way struggling times push us and motivate us, is actually a much healthier way to look at a stressful situation.
You see, we think of ourselves as rational, cognitive beings, but I hate to tell you we are not! We as human beings are emotional beings first and rational beings second.Click To TweetThe emotional parts of our brain are the oldest and most primordial areas of the brain called the limbic system. Stress is truly emotional dis-ease when negative perceptions are driving your emotions. Now, you can probably think back to an experience when you were upset and let’s say fighting with either your spouse or frustrated with your child or if you’re a teen or remember back at your teens – angry at your parents and maybe in a fight with your parents. You see, in the midst of these emotionally charged situations we cannot think straight and at times do things or say things we never would have said or done before if we were in a rational, calm state. This is because in these moments of emotion our rational mind is drowned out by our emotional mind that is running the show. But, once you walk away and calm down your emotional mind, your rational mind can come back online and then you can think straight again.
What if you have constant emotional distress and your brain has become so accustomed to being in distress and always perceive the world from negative emotions again such as fear, anger, frustration, or irritation? Do you see that this pattern and this perceptional pattern can become hard-wired into your brain and start controlling your nervous system and then affect your other systems such as your hormone balance, your heart rate, and your inflammation of your immune system, for example?
The answer is to work on changing what? Changing your perception of your events of your world. You see, if you change your perceptions, you change your patterns and you change your biochemistry, you change your thinking, you decrease inflammation, you take control of your health, and you transform your life!Click To Tweet During the rest of our time together, I’m going to be sharing some very specific things you could be doing to find your calm, decrease your stress, and change your perception.
While stress is inevitable, the goal is to find practical ways to relieve some of your stress. Fortunately, I have simple but highly effective stress relief techniques that I will be sharing with you throughout this program. Some of the techniques we’re going to go over include eating better, exercise techniques, dancing, journaling, something called HeartMath – a biofeedback method for the heart, and I’m going to end our discussion with a discussion of rhythmic formulas such as the rosary or yoga mantras. All of these techniques can be used to feel happier, calmer, and more motivated by turning the raw energy of fear and worry into useful positive energy rather than negative energy!
Let’s talk about some superfoods. Stress eating is nothing new; however, eating the wrong foods when we’re stressed can make things worse. The combination of junk food and stress is particularly harmful.
A person by the name of Kirstin Aschbacher, Ph.D. found that women eating a similar diet but having varying stress levels responded differently to what they ate. She reported, “There appears to be a stress pathway that works through diet – for example, it could be similar to what we see in animals, where fat cells grow faster in response to junk food when the body is chronically stressed.”
Instead of reaching for high sugar, high fat comfort foods when you’re stressed, try something healthy. Here are some ideas. Dark leafy greens are rich in folate, which aids the body’s production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters. Fermented foods and beverages such as kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut improve gut health which is considered our second brain. Many mood-boosting chemical messengers are produced in the gut such as serotonin. Keeping the gut functioning properly will naturally improve mood and reduce stress. Remember, stress is one of the main causes of leaky gut. If you know you are stressed, do all you can to feed your gut and microbiome superfoods rather than junk foods so that you are not giving your gut a double whammy with poor food choices. Always remember to eat the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. I don’t mean M&Ms and Skittles! I mean real fruits and vegetables as you see in the image on the slide.
Now, omega-3 fats, such as EPA and DHA, play a role in your emotional well-being reducing anxiety and depression. What you really need to understand and remember is that your brain is 60% fat and so you need to feed it some healthy fat to remain healthy. These healthy fats are found in salmon, sardines, anchovies, nuts, and seeds. Avocados also provide healthy fats as well as essential health-boosting nutrients including potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and folate.
Blueberries are another superfood due to the pigments that give the berries their deep color. This pigment is called anthocyanins. These powerful antioxidants aid dopamine production in the brain, and dopamine is your feel-good neurotransmitter and is crucial in mood-boosting stress relief.
Now many cultures have enjoyed the stress-relieving benefits of yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates for decades. Yoga involves a series of moving and stationary poses timed to the breath. Yoga also helps strengthen your body’s natural relaxation response through the mind-body connection. There are many variations of yoga such as gentle yoga for beginners and there are more advanced forms of yoga.
Meghan, who is our Discover Health Movement Membership Discover Yoga instructor, has actually already a recorded a very specific restorative yoga class. She’s going to share it with all of our Discover Health Movement Members tomorrow morning for the time of her regular yoga class and help all of the members to find their calm.
If you are not already a member of our Discover Health Movement Membership and you want to check it out, we’re actually offering this coming Monday, February 22 at 6:00 PM a free workshop given by all three of our Discover Health Movement Membership instructors. Coach Trish is going to put in the chat a link in order to register for that free program this Monday, February 22 at 6:00 PM EST.
Discover Health Movement Membership includes three classes a week. The first one is Discover Yoga with Meghan. Another one is called Self-Myofascial Release and is taught by our instructor Lisa Buerk. Our third class is called Movement for Longevity and focuses on balance and strength and is taught by Jim Chaput. These exercises are perfect for all ages and all fitness levels. Once you learn the moves, you can practice them anywhere and at any time. Also, we have this program that is ongoing, and you’ll have constant connection to it because you get all the recordings of all the classes.
Do you dance? If you don’t, you may want to start thinking about it because all you’ve got to do is crank up your favorite music and just move! You don’t have to be good. No one’s watching! You can even just blast music while doing chores around the house and see how it makes you feel. Or if you’re feeling stressed and you have some moments to yourself, turn up the music and just move to it and listen and move to the beat.
If that’s not for you, then try taking a class. There are tons of options both to learn on your own or with a partner if you have a friend or husband or wife or partner who would like to join you. Get out of your comfort zone, and you will soon forget all about what’s stressing you.
You see, dancing and stress relief have been linked through numerous research studies. When the body feels good, so does the mind. Dance has been shown to offer a creative outlet for people to express their personalities in a safe environment. Talk about changing your perception. It also is going to obviously boost your physical health and well-being. Studies have shown that dancing, particularly dancing with a partner, optimizes cognitive health and reduces the risk of dementia as we age.
Sometimes the best remedy for stress is to remove the stress! This may mean physically removing the cause of stress from your life or resolving the issue.Click To TweetIf your stress gets worse when you can’t find things, then get organized! If paying for a gym membership you’re not using is causing stress, then cancel it or put the membership on hold for a few months until you can get back to it. When removing the stress itself isn’t an option, then simply get it out of your head. This can be done by talking to a friend or a loved one or even a professional or journaling as you see on the slide.
You see, talk therapy is a great way to relieve stress. Simply sharing your stress with someone else can help you gain a different perspective on what is stressing you out. Sometimes talking to a friend can help because they can relate or may have helpful suggestions. Also, cognitive behavioral therapy is a great technique for relieving chronic stress. It works through a therapist. A therapist will work with you to identify negative thoughts and behaviors and help change them to more positive perceptions of the situations.
However,the act of writing it out is sometimes enough. You can try keeping a journal and setting aside time every day to write out things that are bothering you, or you could even start a gratitude journalClick To Tweetto focus on the positive aspects of life rather than the negative. Again, start changing your intention, your attention, and your perception.
Here’s where we’re going to start talking about and experiencing what’s called HeartMath. HeartMath is an organization, the HeartMath Institute has an organization that has been educating people about something called heart rate variability and also heart rate rhythms to try and help people have a more coherent heart rate rhythm and teaching self-regulating skills to counteract stress. These techniques can help you transform your stress and create better health and resilience.
What is heart rate variability? Heart rate variability is the time or space between each beat of the heart. As you see in this slide, when you see one beat go up in the red spike and then the next red spike you notice that there’s a certain fraction of a second that they list there. The next fraction of a second is different and the third fraction of a second of the third beat is different. The time or space between the beats of the heart is not meant to be regular. It is meant to be very variable. When we are born and we are infants, we have the highest heart rate variability of our entire lives. Research has shown that this space between beats is supposed to be irregular. This is an extremely important indicator of overall health and fitness.
Heart rate variability reflects the ability to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands. Aging typically causes us to lose three to five percent of our heart rate variability every single year. Also, abnormally low heart rate variability relative to one’s age is a strong and independent predictor of future health problems. HeartMath techniques and measurements…because HeartMath is a form of biofeedback where you’re going to use a technology through the HeartMath devices let’s say and measure your heart rate variability and your heart rate coherence on a regular basis and improve, hopefully, your heart rate variability and your heart rate coherence. The HeartMath techniques and measurements have been shown to improve heart rate variability and coherence across populations to produce significant reductions in what? Depression, anxiety, anger, hostility, burnout, and fatigue. It has shown increase in what? The perception, more caring, more contentment, more gratitude, more peacefulness, and more vitality. These coherence building techniques produce significant reductions in key health risk factors such as improving blood pressure, improving blood sugar, and improving cholesterol. There have been many research studies to show this.
So, what is coherence? We talked about heart rate variability, but what is coherence? This slide is showing the effect of negative depleting emotions and perceptions. On the left, you see the word “frustration” and look at how zig-zagged and jagged and angry that graph looks. You want to change these negative depleting emotions and perceptions towards stress to more positive and renewing emotions towards stress. You notice on the right, it says “shift to appreciation” or compassion on the right. You’ll notice that the wave of the graph is much more of like a sinewave even though it still has variability to it, it’s more rhythmic. It’s more in rhythm. It’s more coherent. This person still has an increased variability of their heart rate variability, but they have better coherence. The left image is coherent and jagged versus the rhythm on the right, as I say is a sinewave. It’s coherent, and it’s rhythmic.
HeartMath research has shown that the messages the heart sends to the brain not only affect physiologic regulation, but also influence our perceptions, our emotions, our behavior, our performance, and our overall health. Excess worry or stress and the wrong perceptions to it can become so familiar to the body and brain that unless and individual is worrying and feeling anxious, he or she is uncomfortable.
For example, if you live in a frustrated state and always incoherently and zig-zagged of your heart rate, your body and your brain become used to that negative stuff and if it’s not feeling that it feels uncomfortable. Whereas if you shift into a more appreciative, gratitude, compassion place and you have more positive perceptions and a more coherent heart rate, then you will feel more comfortable and less agitated and you will be able to be much more easily able to find your calm. Improving heart coherence and heart rate variability can help change one’s neuropsychological emotional patterns. Practicing HeartMath techniques can help you create more optimal patterns and help you change your perceptions.
Let’s see how we can do this. Let’s take some steps. We’re looking now at what HeartMath calls the Depletion to Renewal Chart. I want us to go through this chart so you can see how to use it. You’ll notice there’s a circle and then in the middle of the circle there is a cross of two black lines that create an axis. The horizontal line going across the middle of the circle is the hormonal response axis. If you look over to the left and again negative emotions like frustration and resentment in perception are hormones that would increase cortisol, your stress hormone. You also see that the graph of the heart rate looks very incoherent and jagged. If you come from a perception of frustration and resentment, those are negative emotions and you are more increasing your cortisol levels and your lack of coherence, jagged heart rate. You heart rate variability would be reduced. If you go over to the right on the horizontal line in the middle of the circle, you’ll notice the emotions of love and appreciation which are obviously more positive emotions and perceptions. You’ll also see the hormone DHEA. DHEA, folks, is a vitality hormone. You also see that the graph of the heart looks very coherent and more sinewave-like.
Now, the vertical axis is more of a nervous system axis. The ANS stands for autonomic nervous system. If you go up to the top of that axis, you notice that someone’s emotions are going to be very high and excitable. On the left, you may have more anger and anxiety and frustration, your high in your energy but a negative energy and a negative emotion. Or you could be on the green right side of the vertical line and be happier and more excited. When we’re happy and we’re excited we still have high energy, our nervous system may still be aroused but not in a negative way. Then if you go down to the bottom of the vertical axis you notice low energy, low arousal, quieted arousal. Again, on the right it could be positive in that way, meaning serenity and contentment. Or it could be in a negative way with apathy and sadness and depression.
The way HeartMath suggests we use this chart is to look at this chart and take it in and try and understand the different quadrants. If you’re up in the top left, now what you want to ask yourself is…each of us individually look into your heart and your soul and ask yourself, where do I look at the world from? How do I typically perceive the world? Do I perceive it from an anxious, scared, and frustrated place? If so, you would put an X in the left upper quadrant of this chart. If you come at the world always excited and happy and full of love and appreciation of everything in the world, and you’re always really excited, then put an X in the top righthand quadrant of this chart. If you would say that…and again we’re not always one way, folks, but I’m asking you to sort of categorize yourself. If you always are kind of quiet and exhausted and sad and kind of frustrated but don’t have a lot of energy and feeling depressed, then you may be in the left lower quadrant. Instead, if you come at the world from a place of appreciation and contentment and serenity, but a quiet place from there, then put your X of where your characteristic mostly looks at the world from down in the right lower quadrant.
Now, I’m going to give each of you a moment to think this through. I truly want you to put, if you will, in your mind an X or write down which quadrant you feel that you presently and have throughout most of your life perceived the world from. Once you have done that, now what I want you to ask yourself is if you are not necessarily satisfied with where you’ve been perceiving the world from, where you just put your X, then ask yourself, which quadrant would I rather perceive the world from? Let’s say you said you see the world from primarily a frustrated, anxious, fearful place, and you put your X in the top left quadrant. Then when I ask you, “where do you want to see the world from?” And let’s say you said, “I’d rather see the world from a more contented and more appreciative and compassionate and serene place,” then put an arrow from your first X in your mind and put a star as your goal down, let’s say, in the right lower quadrant. Take a moment and again wherever you put your initial feeling of how you perceive the world, now put an X or a star or what your goal is and write it down as where you’d rather perceive the world from. What perceptions would you rather have? Even write them down. For this is the depletion to renewal chart that HeartMath suggests anyone and everyone start with so that you know where you’re starting from in your perceptions and emotions and where and how you want to shift your emotions to improve your hormonal balance, improve your energy system, improve your nervous system, and improve your perception of the world and your overall health.
Now, I’m going to teach you and we’re going to do them together the very first two steps or techniques that HeartMath teaches people. The very first one is simply called heart-focused breathing. What you’re going to do is simply sit comfortably and focus your attention in the area of your heart in your chest. You might even put your hand on your chest or in your mind’s eye just focus your attention in the area of your heart in your chest. Now, imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart or chest area. Imagine breathing in and out through your heart. Fill your chest with air. Fill your heart with air. Then exhale the air from your chest and particularly with the idea of breathing in and out from your heart. Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual. Now, start to count in your mind as you inhale slowly to a count of five, and then exhale slowly for a count of five. Again, focusing on your heart center and breathing in and out from your heart.
Let’s do this. Everyone’s going to sit comfortably, feet flat on the floor, hands might be on your thighs. Just take a deep breath comfortably into the center of your chest into your heart. Count to five. Breathe in. Then exhale for a count of five. Then keep going with that counting. Breathe in to a count of five, and exhale to a count of five. Again, all the while focusing on expanding your chest and breathing in and out through your heart’s center.
With this, you’re giving your mind something to do by counting the breaths. You’re also giving your mind and your being something to do by focusing on breathing through your heart’s center. You’re learning how to do heart-focused breathing. This is the first technique by HeartMath Institute to try and start shifting your depletion to renewal perspective.
The second step…keep breathing but listening. Deep breathing in and out of your heart’s center. I’m going to move us now right into the second technique. It really just adds on to the first. What we’re going to do is try and activate a positive or renewing feeling. What I want you to do as you’re breathing is make a sincere attempt to experience a regenerative feeling such as appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Try to experience the feeling you have for someone you love such as a person or a pet. If that’s hard you could choose a special place. If you have a special place that you love to go to throughout your life or even as a child, then think of and imagine that special place. Or focus on simply a feeling of calm or ease.
As you’re breathing deeply in and out of your heart’s center, you’re doing your heart-focused breathing. At first you can be counting to five on the way in and five on the way out, slowly. Now, bring up a feeling of love, a feeling of appreciation for someone in your life, whether that be your pet, whether that be a loved one as a human, or whether that be a special place that you have in your life. Or simply bring up a feeling of calm or ease. Keep breathing in and out of your heart center and focusing on the emotion. Bring up the emotion of the love, the appreciation, the gratitude you have for either this place, this person, or this pet, this thing.
Now, these are only two of the techniques that HeartMath teaches. There are others but practicing even these two techniques every day for even as little as five minutes can start to help change your perceptions and the way you perceive the world. It can improve sleep, energy, and it can shift or help you maintain your place on the depletion to renewal chart or help you to shift your place on the depletion to renewal chart to where you would rather be if you didn’t like where you placed yourself in the beginning.
Now, as I continue to present you can keep breathing in and out of your heart center and you can even keep thinking about and feeling the emotions of love and appreciation, but I am going to shift now to the rest of the presentation.
Now, there are devices that can help you with HeartMath. HeartMath Institute has numerous devices that monitor your heart rate variability while you’re doing these breathing and appreciative techniques. Some of the techniques or some of the technology they have will also give you exercises to do with the technology that will help you increase your heart rate variability and your heart rate coherence. Other companies have created devices such as the Oura ring that also measures your heart rate variability and your sleep and a lot of your physiologic measurements.
There are a lot of devices out there, folks, that can be used in the biofeedback modality. Biofeedback means that you use a technology to monitor and see the changes in your heart rate variability and to help you be more successful and give you feedback. If you would like help with understanding any of these devices that I’ve just mentioned, please reach out to us at Discover Health Functional Medicine Center. You can email [email protected] to learn more.
The next thing I want to share with you is a book. You see the cover of it here on the slide. The book is entitled Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. It was written by James R. Doty who is an MD.
I’m going to read you a little biography of Dr. Doty’s professional career. The author of this book, James R. Doty, MD, is a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and founder and director of the Center of Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. He is an affiliate of the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. He is the author of Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. Doty is also the Senior Editor of the Oxford Handbook for Compassion Science.
Now, based on this short list of Dr. Doty’s accomplishments, you might expect that he grew up in a well-to-do family that was nurturing and supportive and focused on education. Well, folks, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. The truth, as Dr. Doty shares in his book, is as he explicitly explains his father was a raging alcoholic that could not keep a job. His mother was mostly bedbound due to depression and a seizure disorder. Many times, she had to be rushed to the hospital due to another attempt to commit suicide by taking too many pills. As a young boy, he and his family were evicted regularly and lived in the poorest section of town. At twelve years old, however, when he first walked into the magic shop, he was an angry, lost, and frustrated twelve-year-old boy. In the magic shop, he meets a woman who teaches him how to change his intention, his attention, and his perceptions so that he can shift his heart and his mind and direct the rest of his life.
Let’s think about these words. First, the word intention. What you expect or intend to see or have happen.If your mind and heart are full of negative intentions such as expecting the world to be dangerous, full of conflict, and run by competition then your attention (what you see or focus on at any given time) is going to be what?Click To TweetIt’s going to focus on what’s wrong. It’s going to focus on what’s scary. It’s going to focus on what’s dangerous. This will feed one’s perceptions of the world as negative and breed fear, anger, frustration, isolation, and loneliness. Whereas, if your intention or your heart and mind intend to see beautiful, safe, supportive, nurturing, and collaborative experiences, then your attention will be drawn to focus on the beauty and supportive and positive things occurring in any situation. This will feed one’s perceptions of the world as positive and breed a feeling of security, gratitude, joy, and connectedness
If you are following this line of thinking what you need to realize most is that we all have the power to change our intention, our attention, and our perceptions. This is what is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is that the mind and body can be used to change your nervous system.Click To Tweet You truly can take control of your health, transform your life, and find your calm.
Dr. Doty himself is only one amazing example of how this can happen. In his book, he shares not only his life story, but also, he shares with you the specific steps that he was taught in the magic shop by the woman he met and how he implemented them to transform not only his mind but his heart and change the trajectory of his life. I can’t any more strongly recommend that everyone read Dr. Doty’s book or listen to it. I’m actually finishing it and listening to it off of YouTube and it’s perfectly free. Just go to YouTube and search for Into the Magic Shop by James R. Doty, MD.
Now, the other thing I want to talk about is called rhythmic formulas. Rhythmic formulas are rhythmic practices such as the rosary or another good example of these are yoga mantras. These are rhythmic practices for the mind that can help shift your intention, your attention, and ultimately your perceptions of events in your life. The term rosary comes from the Latin word Rosarium or “rose garden” and is an important and traditional devotion of the Catholic church combining prayer and meditation in sequences called decades. Decades of different prayer such as ten times saying the Lord’s Prayer or ten Hail Mary’s as well as a number of other prayers.
You see, the repetition and focus of the mind and the fingers…because of course there is also rosary beads that people feel and hold onto while they’re doing the rosary and saying the prayers repetitively. You see, the repetition and focus of the mind and fingers on string beads and the words of the rosary is meant to lead one into restful and contemplative prayer related to each mystery. The gentle repetition of the words helps us to enter into the silence of our hearts and the silence of our hearts and our minds.Click To TweetIt takes practice. It takes time, and it takes devotion, but with these rhythmic formulas or practices, one can ultimately calm their heart and mind and shift their intention, their attention, and their perception of their daily lives, their relationships, their environment, and even of the world. Yoga mantras, again, are similar practices using rhythmic formulas.
I also listened to a talk by Dr. James Doty during one of his YouTube presentations. He presented this wonderful idea of taking ten words from the letter C in the alphabet through the letter L in the alphabet. He presented a list of words to focus on and create your own rhythmic formula. Of course, if you’re a religious person and you’re Catholic and you’ve done the rosary – fantastic! Keep doing it. If you’re someone who’s very into yoga and you learn the yoga mantras and you’re familiar with them, then do that. But if you’re not drawn to either of those, my point here is, and Dr. Doty shared that you can create your own rhythmic formula. Again, what he suggested is taking the ten letters of the alphabet starting at the letter C (is what he chose) through the letter L. Then create words to focus on and contemplate on repetitively to shift what? To shift your intention, your attention, and your perception.
Here’s the list I remember from listening to his talk. I was going to go back and make sure I had all the words the way he described them. Then I decided not to because some of the words for each letter may not be exactly the same as what Dr. Doty presented in his talk that I listened to because my own intention, my own attention, and my own perception has probably adapted some of them to what I want to perceive. That doesn’t matter! As long as I am happy with the intention to each of the words, then it will work for me. You can do the same.
For example, let’s take the letter C. The word I remember saying and that I chose is compassion. The letter D: dignity. Every one of us should be treated with dignity. We should come from a place of dignity. We should have pride in ourselves and all of our family and all of our loved ones and come from a place of dignity. E. The word for E for me is equality. We all should be treated equal and come from and look out to the world as if everyone is equal. The letter F: faith. Faith in the universe, faith in God, faith in oneself, faith in one’s loved ones. Have faith that things are going to work out even in the toughest times. G. The letter G: gratitude. In the toughest times of anyone’s life, one of the best things you can do is think of the things you’re still grateful food. Every day I try and make a list of what I am most grateful for in my life today. H. Honor. Honor myself, honor oneself, and honor my fellow man. I. Intelligence. Intelligence is extremely important. We all need to learn and never stop learning. That’s how you gain intelligence, and that’s how you learn more of how to change your intention, your attention, and your perception. J. Justice. We should be just in the world, and the world should be just towards us. K. Kind. We should be kind and come from a kind heart. Again, back to compassion and being kind and loving our fellow man. Finally, the letter L. The world for L, of course, is love. The most powerful of all the words. Come from a place of love. Love yourself.
Focusing on these ten words and let’s say saying them rhythmically every day and repeating them and contemplating what each of those words mean to you every day on a rhythmic practice can help you do what? Change your intention, your attention, and your perception. Now, during the talk I heard Dr. Doty explain using these words to create a rhythmic formula. He went on the explain that someone who heard it previously asked him if they could use his list of words and create a beaded bracelet. He gave them permission to do so, and then they sold the bracelets as a fundraiser and taught people how to use them as a rhythmic formula. This shows you that you can create your own rhythmic formula and practice it every day. Practicing daily, this is how you can start to change your intention, your attention, and ultimately your perception of the world. Of course, find your calm.
Now, if the ideas we’ve discussed haven’t piqued your interest, here are some further ideas to help you find your calm:
- Watch something funny
- Get a coloring book and color in it
- Hug someone
- Play a game
- Watch cute animals on YouTube
- Go stargazing
- Call an old friend
- Stop and smell the roses. Literally, go smell some flowers!
- Get organized
- Take a nap
- Countdown from ten and take a deep breath with each count
- Take a bath
- Have a picnic
- Learn how to knit
- Watch the sunset. If you’re an early riser, watch the sunrise.
- Write a card for someone and tell them how grateful you are to them or how much you appreciate them.
- Cook your favorite dish
Now think about what you want in your life and write down your intentions. Set your attention on doing things that will help shift your perceptions and help you reach your goals. Go back to that depletion to renewal chart and see if whatever practice you choose is helping you shift from where you are to maybe where you want to be.
As usual, there are numerous resources that have been used to create this presentation. Every month we post the list of references and resources in our Discover Health Facebook Group. If you are new to us and you’re not already a member of our Discover Health Facebook Group, all you’ve got to do is go to our Discover Health Functional Medicine Center Facebook page and request to join the closed group. Tomorrow, we will post these references and these resources.
Thank you all for taking the time to join me for “Finding Your Calm” today. I love helping people achieve health and wellness goals. Reducing stress is so important to overall mental and physical health, and I applaud you for taking the next step. I know we just went over a ton of techniques, and I hope each of you found at least one new method for reducing stress. If you think of a question later, be sure to reach out. You can reach out at [email protected] or you can reach out through our Discover Health Facebook Group. We are always here to support you!
Thank you all for joining us this evening, and I hope you’ve come away with something that you find useful. Take care, everyone!
Watch this full webinar on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/-QtWsg9fJm8
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