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Symposium Workshop #1 - Relaxation and Healing

Leigh Austin

Letís all start by placing everything on the floor. Empty your hands and laps. I want everyone to sit up straight against the chair. Close your eyes. Feel the chair against your back. Take a deep breath in 1-2-3-4 and exhale 12345. And another 1-2-3-4 feel the tension leaving your body. Out 12345. Picture a beautiful meadow with stunning wildflowers blowing gently in the breeze. You can smell their lovely fragrance. You can hear a stream flowing in the distance and its sound comforts you. Let's take one more deep breath 1234 and out 12345. Let's hold that picture in our minds, as we open our eyes, and return to the room.

Everyone is so busy today! Jobs demand more time, time that is also needed by your family, your spouse, and other areas of your life that need attention! You can feel tired, angry and sick. It is not possible for you to control the events in the outside world - not the traffic, not your boss, not your significant other, not the stock market. But you can control what is inside of yourself - inside your mind and body. The ultimate journey to health is a holistic one, where your mind and your body work together to visualize the destination - being at "ease" (as opposed to DIS - ease), and there is no way to get there without relaxation.

The relaxation process is a very pleasant and powerful tool to unite your mind and body toward health. Research indicates that there is a strong correlation between healing and relaxation. Studies being conducted on various techniques for relaxation such as therapeutic touch and massage indicate that during the relaxation process, neuropeptides are released from your brain. These messengers from the brain to the body influence everything from the immune system and physical well being, to the mental and emotional state of being. Further studies of relaxation on AIDS patients found that patients who were relaxed through massage or various other treatments over a period of one month had a significant increase in their T cell counts. Tremendous amounts of research has been conducted and documented validate the mind/body connection and have actually proven that the mind can control various systems and reactions in the body - i.e., stress reduction in the central nervous system.

Health problems or disease, are caused by a variety of circumstances. Chronic stress that is not managed in a healthy way can break down the immune system, making one susceptible to colds, flu, allergies and more serious illnesses. Everyone handles stress differently, and it manifests in different ways with the individual.

Health problems may be related to accidents or injuries. While trying to cope with chronic pain or a life long debilitating condition, some people develop depression and/or stress. Severe depression needs to be treated so that one can move on and take control of their wellness. Some people are born with an illness or condition, or a predisposition to a condition. These people can still take steps to manage the symptoms or to ward of the manifestation of the illness. HIV positive individuals are doing this everyday with great success. Cancer patients are doing this every day with tremendous success. These are a few examples of people taking control of their wellness and uniting their mind and body.

There are many types of techniques that you can use to achieve relaxation. Individual tastes and needs vary. Try different things until something feels very comfortable. We couldnít possibly cover all of the techniques in less than an hour, so we will confine ourselves to just a few. Among the many there are:

Aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, massage, exercise, tai chi, music therapy, diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, visualization, guided imagery, energy work or hypnotherapy. I will address hydrotherapy and aromatherapy and let
Lark tell you about some others.

Hydrotherapy is a very relaxing way to promote better health. Proper circulation to internal organs and tissues is a necessity for pain relief, optimal metabolic function, repair of damaged or infected tissue and for general well being. There are many ways to improve circulation and hydrotherapy, the use of alternating hot and cold water, is one of the

Most people have used hydrotherapy occasionally as in ice packs and hot water soaks for a sprained ankle, the hot compress for sinus pain, or the hot bath for a case of the flu with aches and chills. There are dozens of specific hydrotherapy techniques valued by naturopathic doctors, yet unknown to most people. Constitutional hydrotherapy is a special technique which greatly improves recovery from many illness, both acute and chronic, such as fatigue, arthritis, bronchitis, food poisoning, heart disease, influenza and chronic constipation. During the treatment the patient lies comfortably on a table while hot towels are applied over the upper torso. The person is then wrapped in a sheet and covered with several layers of blankets. Once the skin is warmed, a single cold towel is exchanged for the heated one. Or the patient is submerged in a jetted hydrotherapy tub for 10 minutes, and then given a plunge in a cool pool or bath. The body, well prepared by the preceding warmth, reacts to this temperature change by greatly increasing the blood flow to the skin and the internal organs of the chest and abdomen. Hydrotherapy researchers have shown that a reflex increase in blood flow occurs in internal organs when the circulation to the overlying skin is stimulated. It is this internal reaction which is responsible for the long lasting and cumulative effects of a series of hydrotherapy treatments. The most obvious benefit of hydrotherapy, is its ability to soothe and relax the patient into a very calm state.

Aromatherapy means "a therapy using aromas." Aromatherapy is both an art and a science. The art applies to the blending. The combination of mutually enhancing oils is a synergistic blend. Creating blends is an art and requires an understanding of each oilís properties, reliance on tuition, and experience. Aromatherapy is an easy way to improve the quality of everyday living on the emotional, physical and spiritual levels. Everyone has responses to certain smells, both pleasant and unpleasant. The idea is to find the special scents unique for each individual that bring about the most profound pleasure and bliss. Aromas have the ability to recall memories and emotions. Do you remember the perfume your grandmother wore? The time the popcorn burnt in the microwave and smelled for days? Try it yourself: Close your eyes and imagine the first time you visited the sea. Smell the salty air and the seaweed? Remember how you felt? Many essential oils have the ability to calm and soothe, just by their fragrance alone. But there are other chemical effects happening in the brain as well. Remember those neurochemicals we talked about earlier? The messengers between the body and the brain? They are busy doing their work too, causing release of seratonin and endorphins to help your body relax. The benefit is heightened when you combine aromatherapy with another relaxation technique, such as massage, hydrotherapy or meditation.

On the handouts I gave you, I have listed my very favorite and most basic essential oils. Among those, the best ones for relaxation (of course this is ALL individual and unique) in my opinion are:

For adults - Melissa, sandalwood, rose, lavender, and patchouli.
For kids - Lavender, tangerine, chamomile and jasmine. Melissa is also great for hyper kids or depressed kids.

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