Updated: Mar 28, 2021
Our bodies are very complex with the organs working together, the systems of blood vessels and muscles, the brain itself. Just to name a few pieces of the big puzzle.
We also have the nervous system; you can call it the delivery system of information for the whole body, where we compute what we sense, and what actions the body takes. An integral part is the autonomic nervous system and it has 2 modes of operation: the fight-or-flight (FOF) ️ mode and the rest-and-relax (RAR) mode. If the brain has been decided (I tell you later, how) to be in the fight-or-flight mode the autonomic nervous system, this controlling unit of the body, mobilizes the metabolism, muscles, and organs with hormones (like adrenaline) to increase heart rate, blood pressure to support muscle movement and pure reacting to danger (no thinking and no regulated breathing).
The rest-and-relax mode lets your body release hormones (like serotonin) to signal increase blood flow to the brain (now you can think again), lets the organs and muscles slow down and relax (i.e. reduce heart rate and blood pressure), regulates digestion and breathing (which was turned off during the FOF mode).
Most of the processes of the autonomic nervous system are automatic and we cannot change what happens. However, we can train ourselves how to engage the right mode to support healing and relaxation.
The most famous way of making use of this idea is the Relaxation Response. Defined by Dr. Herbert Benson this technique helped the beginning meditation research in the 60s and 70s greatly to get a scientific basis. Benson’s method (published in the book The Relaxation Response) can be described as your personal ability to encourage your body to let the RAR mode of the autonomic nervous system kick in (and this is the how to help your brain to make that decision). Benson’s research has shown that the activation of the RAR mode is automatic as long as you practice a relaxation method for at least 20 min. Relaxation techniques that qualify here are breathing techniques, meditation, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Yoga, and walking.
For this reason, I developed the Moving Meditation course. There is one key strategy for these meditations where you move to meditate that makes the Relaxation Response more effective to get you switch to the RAR mode in 15 min.
Sign up here for the Moving Meditation course - the new program by Hum and Glow.