Ever turned on a favourite playlist to de-stress after a long day? It can work like a charm to put you in a better frame of mind. But the beneficial effects can go much deeper than that.
The use of sound in healing has been used by Eastern cultures for thousands of years. Fortunately it is gradually catching on in West.
Sound and vibration therapy (vibroacoustic therapy) uses bells, drums, gongs, crystal/singing bowls and wind instruments to produce vibrations that directly interact with every cell in the body.
Our bodies respond by synchronizing to the vibrations of the instrument. This results in a harmonious balancing effect that occurs through out the body to the cellular level. Sound therapists believe if there is a blockage of energy in any part of the body, the area can become unblocked and restored to its highest functioning. Sound therapy is beginning to be used in various cancer treatment centres. Himalayan singing bowls and gongs have been found to greatly improve pain management.
Additional documented benefits include improved recovery after illness or/or surgery, improved pain tolerance, improved sleep. Sound therapy can increase vital energy flow, cleanse negative energy and alter old patterns of behaviour that no longer serve us.
Hmmn, that alone might be worth giving it a try.
Maintaining brain health is essential. As we age, cognitive decline is a very real
possibility and can dramatically influence the quality of life in our golden years.
In the last several years we have seen an explosion of the brain game buzz.
People engage in Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and even video games in the hopes of keeping their brain sharp and their mind alert.
Although any of those things can be highly entertaining, it is not the key to maintaining brain health.
According to cognitive neuroscientist, Sandra Bond Chapman, PhD, the key lies in strengthening connections between different areas of the brain. While doing Sudoku and word jumbles on a regular basis might improve the specific cognitive ability to do those puzzles, it doesn’t cross over to the complex skills that really matter. Skills such as problem solving, planning, and clarity of thought.
Engaging in complex mental activities such as innovative thinking (thinking outside the box) appreciating different perspectives, reflecting on abstract concepts are ways we can improve brain health. Challenging our mind in this way will increase blood flow to key regions of the brain, improve brain functioning and even decrease symptoms related to depression or stress. That is self care at its finest.
Studies also warn against too much time spent on smart phones, tablets and/or video games as it can overload the brain. The same goes for multi-tasking – not all it’s hyped up to be after all.
Instead, try strategy based mental training that challenges your mind to look at abstract concepts, themes and global meanings. Similar benefits can be obtained with socializing and engaging in regular physical activity.
The brain is an amazing and complex organ. We owe it to ourselves to do all we can to keep it functioning optimally.
If you love to read, it's easy to appreciate why immersing yourself in a good book often tops the list of favourite self care activities. Reading can be a healthy distraction, it can provide temporary relief from personal struggles and it can be entertaining.
But there is so much more to be gained.
Regardless of genre, books have a way of reaching out to the reader: as an invitation to explore a foreign culture or world, to introduce new and innovative ideas, as encouragement to examine alternate perspectives or simply as an opportunity to step into the shoes of someone else.
We often judge books by the relate-ability of its characters. Do they have weaknesses or strengths that resonate with us? What is it that makes us love or hate them? How much of the book, or its characters mirrors our own lives?
Books of all sorts - fictional, non-fictional, memoir - have the ability to move us forward on our own paths of personal growth. And to me, that is one of the most valuable benefits to reading.
Let me leave you with this thought:
"The best moments in reading are when you come across something -
a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and
particular to you.
And now, here it is.
Set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even
who is long dead.
And it is as if a hand has come out,
and taken yours."
- Allan Bennett
Okay, this mode of self-care may be a little off the beaten path of traditional, but if you like water, it might be worth a try.
What is it?
Float therapy is immersing yourself in an enclosed tank that holds about ten inches of water and around 850 lbs. of dissolved Epsom Salts. The tank is sound-proof and pitch dark to provide an environment that is free of sensory distractions. The water is maintained at body temperature for the duration of your 90-minute session.
To achieve profound relaxation. The abundance of Epsom salts creates a state of extreme positive buoyancy which relieves any forces of gravity on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. Since all external stimulation is eliminated, your mind and body can fully relax.
Some of the beneficial claims include an increase in dopamine and endorphins which boost mood; improved ability to enter the theta state of meditation; healing associated with the profound state of relaxation and zero gravity effect. Some websites on floating state a 90-minute session is equal to four hours of solid sleep.
Worried you may fall asleep and drown? The buoyancy effect keeps you afloat. Think you'll wrinkle up like a prune? The magnesium in the Epsom salts prevents that. Worried about the quality/cleanliness of the water? Most Float Centres report stringent water sterilization with a minimum of four cycles through UV filters and bromine. Claustrophobic? You can get out any time you want.
If you want to float your cares and worries away, this may be something to try. Float centres have been in existence for over 50 years, with new centres cropping up everywhere. As the motto for Float Calm (www.floatcalm.com) in Winnipeg suggests - disconnect to reconnect.
My personal opinion? It was lovely - but than again, I take to water like a fish. Can't speak to an improvement in meditation which might just require additional visits. I can say that I am certain I did catch a few z's, and emerged feeling refreshed and ever so calm.