Let’s face it, who isn’t stressed in these modern times? Incessantly we are bombarded by the demands and influences of the day. The build up of tension in our bodies and minds pays its toll and results in physical and mental/emotional imbalances. We need effective tools to manage and prevent stress and begin to become aware of the degree of influence these stress factors have upon us. The time tested techniques of yoga science and philosophy combined with homeopathy are avenues that have much to offer in this regard.

Awareness
How do we change how we respond to stress factors? It simply begins with what is called Awareness. Take a moment as you read this to become aware of your body, feel the back of your neck and your shoulders, notice your breathing pattern, notice what thoughts are flitting through your mind. What did you notice? If you became more aware of yourself than before, you have made a step toward greater self-awareness. You see, simply becoming aware of what is happening on a body, breath and mind level is the major key to reducing stress. To become aware is to come into the present and be fully conscious of how we are reacting to many stress factors in our lives. Once we become aware, then we have a choice in how we respond. We are then able to live our lives in a way that prevents stress from building up in the first place. It is not so easy though, because many of us live out of our bodies and find it hard to be aware in the moment. We have trained ourselves pretty well to live in the past, be on the go, and strive toward that next goal. Rather than becoming alive to the present moment awareness of what is, we live in what was and what will be.

Transitioning from a Tense State to a Relaxed State
Let us begin with three earth grounding basics: stretching, relaxation and breathing. These are so simple, yet so profound in their ability to reduce and prevent stress in your life.

Stretching
Stretching is one of the best ways to become aware of yourself and how you respond to certain stressors and hold unnecessary tension in the body. Anywhere from 15-45 minutes of stretching per day is beneficial. The basic postures and joints and glands exercises of hatha yoga are ideal in this regard. When taught well, a class incorporates movement, breath and relaxation into the flow of stretches. Classes at The Meditation Center (www.themeditationcenter.org) are taught from this perspective.

Relaxation
Relaxation is also effective in releasing tension especially when combined with proper breathing techniques. The corpse pose or shavasana is an ideal posture to learn how to relax the body. Relaxation should be progressive and systematic through the body. As you become more adept in relaxation practices, you begin to carry this relaxed state into life. Relaxation then becomes your natural response to stress situations. Where you became stressed and tense before, you naturally become relaxed.

Breathing
The diaphragmatic breath is by far the most effective tool for releasing tension and keeping the mind peaceful. Most of us are used to using the chest muscles to breath. We forget we have this large diaphragm muscle that is much more effective in carrying out a healthy breath cycle. There is a close relationship between the breath, the mind and body. If the breath is shallow and tense, this reflects in the body and mind. Likewise, if the body or mind is tense, the breath will become tense. In essence, the breath is our barometer of emotions. Retraining the breath involves specific and systematic exercises, but overall one should learn to develop an even, deep, smooth and noiseless breath. Makarasana or crocodile pose is one of the best ways to learn how to breathe diaphragmatically.

Mind and Habit Patterns
The mind is a storehouse of many habit patterns. Our habitual self talks and perceptions dramatically influence our behaviors, physiological responses and feelings in any given situation. How we respond to stress ultimately is influenced by how we habitually have responded in the past. The only way to break this cycle is to change these mental habit patterns.

Meditation is a highly effective solution. It is an art and science that allows for new grooves to form and negative habit patterns to be transformed over time. Meditation involves the process of becoming more aware of what is flowing in the mind stream, accepting it and then letting it go. It is an act of witnessing. We become the observer. From this vantage point of increased self-awareness, we are then able to choose a different thought or action, one that hopefully brings a less stressful response. We also begin to identify less with our thoughts, that they are somehow different from who we are.

Over time we develop a more conscious volition in our daily lives that can be implemented on all levels of body, breath and mind. For those interested, yoga philosophy provides an excellent foundation of what mind is, how it functions, and how to work with it effectively. An introductory book on this is The Art of Joyful Living by Swami Rama (available at www.themeditationcenter.org).

Homeopathic Treatment for Stress
Homeopathy, the second most common form of alternative medicine in the world today (WHO report 2005), is a highly effective treatment to manage stress. Similar to the system of yoga and meditation, homeopathy is a whole system approach to health. Homeopathy involves a comprehensive intake that looks at one’s individual symptoms from a mental, emotional and physical health standpoint. Specifically with stress, the homeopath is concerned with how a person reacts to the various stress stimuli, both with respect to his total being and specifically his/her individual parts. A particular state or way of coping with stress is understood that is unique and individual to the client. Once the homeopath understands this underlying causal mechanism it can be matched with a homeopathic remedy to effectively reduce the intensity and frequency of the troubling and limiting mental, emotional and physical symptoms. The result of homeopathic treatment is not only better health but the individual becomes more aware of his/her own internal processes. The individual learns to observe his/her own biorhythms, habit patterns and mental processes much more effectively. How their thoughts and emotions affect them directly becomes more apparent. Homeopathy helps the individual learn about him or herself. Similar to meditation, the knowledge gained through this self observation of homeopathic treatment, aids the person in the process of bringing into conscious awareness elements of his/her existence that before were happening on an unconscious level.

With more awareness, comes a stress-less way of life!
If you are feeling overburdened, that life is not working for you, and you don't know what to do next, try some of these simple, yet effective techniques of yoga and meditation. Slowly an increase in awareness will build up in you. If it is a chronic stress issue and you have other chronic problems, you may also consider consulting a homeopath to reduce your life limiting symptoms.

Author's Bio: 

Aaron Means MA, is a homeopathic practitioner with a private practice on 1516 W Lake St in Minneapolis, MN. He welcomes adults and children of all ages. He is a graduate of the American Medical College of Homeopathy in Phoenix, AZ. Since 1994 he has studied and used homeopathy. To schedule a complimentary Q & A session and learn more about how homeopathy can help you, you may contact him at 651-328-4048, visit Homeopathichealthservices.com, or e-mail homeopathichealth@gmail.com