Relaxation is a necessary part of life in order to be well. It heals the soul, boots creativity and helps you get down to business with what needs to be taken care of in your life. What is so interesting is that I'm not talking about watching TV or cruising on Pinterest as a way of relaxing. I'm talking about true “unwinding” where you tune out the world and tune into your bodies needs. In Eastern medicine this is called meditation but most of us in the Western world are too impatient to do this type of relaxation. In fact, we fight it because we see it as not very productive. What do you have to show for yourself when you are done?
This type of relaxation is actually beneficial for you because it makes a healthy substance called NAD that our body needs to be well. As you age you have less NAD and often are high stress levels burn through our reserves. Most of us really don't know how to even think of relaxing to this level even for 5 minutes let alone an hour.
This past weekend I got the chance to remember what this level of relaxation is really like. I got invited to go to a float tank where you literally float in water that is body temperature with 1100#'s of Epsom salt for an hour. It was quite the adventure.
The float pod is oval shaped and big enough for you to lay flat on your back with your arms and legs outstretched and literally float with no assistance on top of the water. The pod has a lid on it and you can close the lid down for it to be completely quiet and turn off the blue light. If you are a little claustrophobic you can leave the lid up and leave on the light. Either way what happens next I would never imagine. You see there is no outside stimulation and there is nothing to look at, so your mind and body literally begin to float. I know it sounds strange but you are completely relieved of any outside weight on your mind and body. You experience zero gravity so your body unweights itself and people actually fall asleep in the tank. They say one hour in the tank is like 4 hours of deep REM sleep. When was the last time you got that many hours of deep sleep? Now in my case it took me at least 10-15 minutes to settle my mind down and actually turn off the to do list, but once I did, my goodness I was so relaxed. I haven't been that relaxed in a long time and my body aches and pains began surfacing and going away. It was quite an amazing experience and I had no idea that I would have such a hard time relaxing and letting my mind and body go. You see meditation teaches you how to focus your attention what's important. As you learn to focus your attention then you can become successful at focusing on whatever you deem important. It might be your relationship with your family, a project at work or a new physical challenge you are facing. Whatever the case, you need to practice this skill to have it become a natural part of your life.
So this Holiday season I want you to take some time, even if it's just 5 minutes, to learn to relax. Put your feet up, settle down your racing heart, stop all the noise and ignore all the clutter. Pick a time and place that you can do this, for some of you who are mother's like me, it's in the closet after everyone's gone to bed. Wherever it is, I hope you will try it this time of year. It will help you enjoy this season and all it's chaos, joy and love. You and your health should be a priority. You are worth it; never stop taking care of yourself.
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Sheree DiBiase, PT, is the owner of Lake City Physical Therapy and she and her staff are wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season. Healthy Christmas gifts: Gym membership, Home exercise equipment, Massage treatment, Float pod, Pilates or yoga classes, mediation training or physical therapy care in our Coeur d'Alene, 208-667-1988; Spokane Valley, 509-891-2623; and in our new Hayden office next to Gourmet Way, 208-762-2100.