July 24, 2013

Meditating with Visual Aids

Think about changing the channel that' plays mindlessly in your head.  Change your thoughts away from the thousands of stress inducing thoughts that permeate your thinking toward calm, pleasant, physically soothing thoughts and you can take your body toward a more physically healthy space.

One way to do this is with visual aids.  In this case, pictures of highly pleasurable scenes.

Take a look at the pictures posted on Bored Panda, below.   Take time to really let the images sink in.  Enhance the experience by taking long, slow inhales followed by long, full exhales, while you will your body to relax with each exhale, while simultaneously enjoying the pictures.

22 Unbelievable Places that are Hard to Believe Really Exist

 Let your mind luxuriate in the sensations you might feel if you were actually present in the picture.  Imagine the sounds you might hear, the smells.  What might you see in the scene if the picture were expanded to include what is behind you?

Pictures of beauty found in the nature are highly inspirational to me.  They help me refresh and appreciate the world around me.  Others find works created by visual artists inspiring:  paintings, collage, sculpture.

What inspires you?  What kinds of images do you find pleasurable, refreshing, or relaxing?  

July 3, 2013

Exercise for Relief from Anxiety - How Does it Work?

Gretchen Reynolds writes for the New York Times blog about the positive effect of exercise on anxiety.  She summarizes the work of Schoenfeld et. al whose studies* with mice suggest that regular exercise leads to an increase in healthy, calming neurons (GABA) in a part of the brain that helps us process emotions (hippocampus).  More evidence that behavior therapy ( CBT ) tools, such as jogging, taking brisk walks, or working the treadmill, are an effective way to increase feelings of calm in both the long and short term.

You can read Reynolds NY Times article, here.

*Schoenfeld TJ, Rada P, Pieruzzini PR, Hsueh B, Gould E. (2013) J Neurosci. 2013 May 1;33(18):7770-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5352-12.2013.Physical exercise prevents stress-induced activation of granule neurons and enhances local inhibitory mechanisms in the dentate gyrus.

-Sandy Andrews, Ph.D.
CBT Cognitive Behavioral Psychologist 
Austin, Texas