Tag Archive: Self help


Stress makes you stupid

Actually, stress makes you stupid, sick, and smelly.

Now that’s a good incentive to learn to relax and destress with slow, deep breathing. So why does stress make us stupid, sick, and smelly? We can answer that question by looking at why we get stressed in the first place.

Stress is your body’s natural reaction to a threat to your safety and wellbeing. A classic example is to look at what happens to you when you find yourself face to face with an aggressive dog. Your heart rate increases, your digestive system dramatically slows down, your pupils dilate, your blood pressure increases, your breathing becomes shallow and fast, you begin to sweat, and your muscles and heart become engorged with blood as your skin turns pale from the blood being redirected. All of these things happen because of the release of stress hormones preparing your body for fight or flight in response to a threat. In the short-term this type of response can save your life, however, if you experience stress every day, all day, because your boss happens to be an asshole that bullies and abuses you, or you have an aggressive partner, etc, then that type of reaction going on in your body all the time is unsustainable. Eventually you’ll burn yourself out.

From a health point of view, being in a continuous state of stress strains your heart, increases your chances of having a stroke due to high blood pressure, and lowers your immune function because all of the body’s energy is being used elsewhere, which increases your susceptibility to infection and even increases your risk of getting cancer. Where health is concerned STRESS is your body’s enemy.

The effects of stress don’t just stop with the body, they spill over into the realms of the mind. When you get stressed the flow of blood in your brain decreases in your frontal lobes and is redirected to your hind brain and emotional brain. This means your ability to think rationally and plan ahead is severely hampered. Essentially stress turns you into a puppy. Seriously, when you’re under stress you act more like a puppy than a human. This is why it’s never a good idea to make decisions when you’re under stress unless you absolutely have to.

What about smelling bad?  Think about the original example of the dog, or maybe it’s a lion or a bear. When you get stressed, your body will begin to sweat. The more stressed you are the more profusely you’ll sweat. Why? Two reasons. One, sweating lubricates your body and makes it easier to escape the grip of whatever it is your faced with, and secondly, when you get stressed the sweat you excrete tends to smell bad. That’s not a great thing if your on your way to your new girlfriend/boyfriend’s house to meet your future parents in law! But it’s very useful when you’re faced with a predator that wants to eat you for dinner because when food smells bad, it’s a sign that it’s gone off. And even animals don’t like to eat food that will make them sick.

So there you have it. Stress makes you stupid, sick, and smelly. WHat can you do about it. Simple. Learn to slow your breathing and you’ll be able to control your stress levels 😉

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More concept art. This illustrates how changing our breath rhythm influences the nervous system, and subsequently the mind. In essence, fast breathing creates stress and agitation of the mind, whereas slow breathing creates a calm and content mind.

Useful to know in a modern world filled with manufactured stress and fear.

My disappearing body

All this week I’ve had the feeling of living in a dream, of being completely disconnected from what I would normally call reality. And although I can’t find the words to portray exactly what I’m experiencing, I can best describe it as a type of doing without doing, thinking without thinking. It’s like this body is moving, acting and reacting, and the mind is thinking, but it’s not me. I’m simply watching it all happen. Even thinking about these words I’m typing, and the act of physically using the keyboard on the laptop in front of this body I call my own, doesn’t feel real. It’s like I’m observing it all from behind the curtain of the mind. 

Oh words are so meaningless. They completely fail me at times like this.

Dissolving in light

Tonight, during meditation, as I felt my body becoming lighter, I perceived a brightness, an intense light, filling my physical form. It was like my body was a balloon filling with helium. Becoming lighter and lighter with every breath. Soon after this, I began to notice parts of my body disappearing, until eventually there was no body. There was only light. I was light.  

As I regained the sense of body, it was as if I was in the body but at the same time all around it. It is a strange sensation. It feels similar to the awakening I experienced a number of years ago, only the intensity is far milder. Anyway, I just thought I’d share. 

Next post will be on Shambavi Mudra, an important step in reverse engineering the awakening process. 

Although I’m feeling separate from everything at the moment, paradoxically, I’ve never felt so connected. With this, there comes a feeling of immense love and compassion welling up from the depths of my being. 

Wishing every one of you much love and happiness 🙂

Namaste

IMG_1151Uddiyana bandha awakens the emotional centres of the brain and allows the heart to expand. It can be applied in one of two ways. The first and most commonly used method is to apply it while holding the breath out. While the second method is to apply it while the breath is being held in.

Here’s the basic method:

  1. Sitting or standing, place your hands on your knees.
  2. Take a deep breath in, then fully exhale all of the air from your lungs.
  3. Holding the air out, bend forward slightly and, pushing down on your knees, draw your abdomen back in and up, towards your spine.
  4. Hold this position for as long as is comfortable. Then contract your abdomen and slowly inhale. Repeat steps 1 to 4.

When first starting this practice stick with five repetitions t the most, then gradually increase. While the effects on the physical body are obvious, what’s happening to the nervous system, brain and subtle energies isn’t so obvious. As I said before, Uddiyana bandha lights up the emotional centres of the brain. So it’s probable that you’ll experience an emotional type of cleansing once you start using the practice regularly. Although in the beginning this can feel a bit like regressing back to your teenage years, it eventually settles down and when it does your emotions become much more stable and are expressed without attachment. So slow and steady is the best practice.

Now for the second method:

Sitting or standing, place your hands on your knees.

  1. Begin to inhale, and as you do, draw your abdomen in and up towards your spine. Hold this position for as long as you can comfortably hold your breath.
  2. Exhale while allowing your abdomen to relax into its normal position. And that’s it.

So why use the second method? Well applying uddiyana bandha in this way allows us to combine it with mula bandha to create a powerful pumping action on the subtle energies of the body. this way Uddiyana becomes a very dynamic practice that has a powerful stimulating effect on the mind’s evolution and expansion into self realisation.

Tip

I like to do a few rounds of the basic form of Uddiyana bandha first thing in the morning before any other practices. This creates space for the lungs to expand during breathing techniques and calms the mind in preparation for meditation.

A short animation I made to illustrate the realisation of unity and oneness brought about by the awakening of Kundalini.

Awakening the Heart

This is a short animated video I made to Illustrate the flow of energy during the practice of Uddiyana Bandha.

Deepening the energetic flow

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Awakening Kundalini

We can greatly enhance the effects of mula bandha by altering the angle of our pelvis during our practice. To do this, we simply tuck our pelvis forward as we draw the perineal muscles up during the inhalation phase of our breathing cycle.

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Awakening Kundalini

Then, as we exhale and release the muscle contraction of mula bandha, we tilt our pelvis back by sticking out our bum (just a little).

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Awakening Kundalini

This simple, dynamic structural addition to the muscle contraction of mula bandha dramatically increases the stimulation of the pelvic nerve structures, while acting as a pump for the cerebrospinal fluid. The resulting effect is a dramatic increase in the energy flow in the spinal channel (sushumna) along with stronger stimulation of the lower brain structures, resulting in a deeper, more expanded state of mind.

*I just wanted to add this bit of information before moving on to the other bandhas. There are a few other things we can do to enhance the energy flow when practising mula bandha, however, these become more applicable at a later stage.

Enjoy the practice and the energy and peace it brings into your life 🙂

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