April 29, 2020
Many of us are naturally feeling a heightened sense of anxiety around the current global situation. As functional medicine practitioners, we recognize the fundamental role that the nervous system plays in our overall health, including our immune health. That’s why, from your first session with any of us at The Morrison Center, we’ll ask about your physical AND emotional health — the two are inseparable, and many of us struggle to ground our nervous systems and calm our minds, which can inhibit the body’s natural healing capacity.
The key is to find one or two techniques that you enjoy and find doable, so you can practice them every single day. Here are some of our favorite breathing and mindfulness techniques you can try, either at home or in a session with one of our practitioners:
EFT, also known as tapping, is a method of gentle acupressure that anyone can learn to do for themselves. You simply tap on 9 different acupressure points, while focusing on a stressor — the tapping, which calms the body, and mental focus on the stressor at hand, re-trains the brain to respond more calmly to the trigger, whatever it may be. There are many scientific studies on this technique, showing that it helps with everything from general anxiety and insomnia to sports performance, even smoking and emotional eating. It can be used on past traumas and painful memories, current stressors, or future anxieties, and can be quite powerful. As an EFT practitioner at The Morrison Center, I've helped many of our patients to reduce their stress and improve their emotional wellbeing, both in person and virtually. To schedule an appointment, please reach us on the patient portal or at 212-989-9828, option 2.
Reiki is a Japanese form of energy healing that can be used to improve health and reduce stress. It is based on the idea that energy can become “stuck” or “stagnant” in the body and create blockages, leading to physical or emotional discomfort. The technique encourages a more balanced flow of energy through the body to rebalance the body and mind. It is a more passive experience for the recipient: the recipient rests comfortably in a chair or on a massage table, while a licensed practitioner performs Reiki either with light touch or with their hands held slightly above the body, based on patient preference. It is deeply relaxing, and many of our patients have reported profound benefits in their overall wellbeing. Sarah Harper, NP is a licensed Reiki Master and is currently taking new patients. Existing patients of The Morrison Center may schedule appointments through the patient portal; if you are new to our office, please call us to schedule a session: 212-989-9828 option 2.
The Sa Ta Na Ma meditation is a simple yet powerful technique in the Kundalini Yoga tradition. It helps to balance the mind and calm the nervous system, while improving concentration. The name is based on the Kundalini mantra Sat Nam, commonly translated as “truth is our identity,” and each syllable has a specific meaning: Sa = birth, cosmos; Ta = life; Na = death, transformation; Ma = rebirth. One states each syllable while forming mudras, or hand positions, simply touching the thumb to each of the other four fingers, one per syllable, starting with the index finger moving toward the pinky. You can find more information about this technique here, and Dr. Morrison’s video on Instagram.
This is one of the simplest breathing techniques: simply sit or lie in a comfortable position, place one hand on your abdomen below your belly button, and one on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your lower hand push out, while keeping your chest still. Exhale fully through your mouth, using your belly to help push all the air out. Repeat 5-10 times.
Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, this simple breathing technique can be done anytime, anywhere. Simply inhale to the count of 4 (try to use the deep belly breathing technique), hold while you count to 7, then exhale for 8 counts. Repeat 4-10 times in a row, ideally twice a day or more. If you start to feel lightheaded, start with 4 times and work your way up to 10. You can do this when you’re waiting in line, on hold on the phone, or anytime you’re feeling stressed or agitated. Give it a try and notice how much calmer you feel after just a few rounds.
This technique takes the idea of the 4-7-8 breath — holding the breath, and conscious exhalation to remove more carbon dioxide from the body — a step further. Wim Hof, aka “The Ice Man,” has become famous for his breathing techniques and promotion of cold exposure to boost immunity and overall health. His theory is that shallow breathing from emotional stress increases oxidative damage in the body, which ultimately leads to disease. His breathing technique helps to re-regulate the mind-body connection and nervous system. It’s a powerful technique! We recommend watching his videos to acquaint yourself with the process.
We hope these methods inspire you to find or continue with a mindfulness practice that works for you, because ultimately it’s consistency that matters! Have you tried any of them? Do you have a different one that you prefer? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Robin is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine and holistic healing modalities. She helps her clients address complicated conditions and return to wellness.
STEPHANIE MANDEL, NC, HEALTH COACH
Stephanie is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner with a passion for helping her clients fulfill their potential through both emotional and physical optimization.