Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Researchers discover why stress can make us ill

It has long been known that stress can cause illness, but the exact reason has eluded scientists until now. Scientists from Australia's Garvan Institute have discovered how a particular hormone, released in the body whilst under stress, can prevent our immune system functioning properly.

Stress is something which is particularly difficult for traditional medicine to treat. Special vitamin formulations, generally high dose B vitamins, are said to help manage stress levels. Personally, I have found a herbal preparation of gingko biloba and brahmi to be particularly helpful.

However, I believe that a balance of a healthy diet, exercise and meditation to effectively manage stress levels is the best strategy.

As far as a healthy diet goes, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables or juice, lots of water and not too much fat tend to work well. Exercise, a dirty word to some, doesn't mean you have to rush out and purchase a gym membership or begin training for the next triathlon (although either of these would be fantastic!). Walking for as little as 30 minutes a day will do wonders for your health and general well being.

Meditation is not something which comes easily to a lot of people (including me). It can take years to become proficient in the art of meditation. Luckily, there is really exciting technology out there by which one can induce meditative states at will simply by donning a pair of headphones and pressing play on the CD player. This technology is known as brainwave synchronization and is produced by applying differing audio signals to each ear. The session can be guided by the CD track or software and your brainwaves follow the stimulus by what is termed in the industry as the "frequency following response". For a well written explanation of how this technology works, see this quick guide.

With this technology, all you need do is relax and listen to the track and you will soon find yourself in a highly meditative state. You can do this for ten minutes or an hour - it's up to you. I rarely miss a day without listening to at least one session.

The first one I ever tried and to which I still listen occasionally is Centerpointe Institute's Holosync. It comes in the form of audio CDs and while excellent, is quite expensive, especially for the more advanced levels. Another very good meditation CD which I use often is Insight by the Immrama Institute, formerly Awakened Minds, Inc. It is more gentle than Holosync and requires just one CD, not a series. At $34.95, it represents good value.

The CD I find the most effective for my meditation needs is the Ultra-Deep Meditation CD by Binaural-Beats.com. It is extremely relaxing and induces a meditative state consistently and easily. At a mere $29.95 with free shipping, it is also the best value I have found.

As well, there are software programs available which you can use to make your own custom brainwave synchronization CDs. Two that I use are Bwgen and Brain Sound Studio. I also use Adobe Audition for more complex tracks but it requires some serious study and practice to be useful for this purpose.

In conclusion, brainwave synchronization is an exciting and powerful technology in enhancing relaxation and meditation. Many more uses in the self-development area are possible; I will be covering these in later posts.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting information. I find that the CDs reduce my need for sleep and refresh me when I have work overload.
    You didn't mention Dr. Jill's Brain Gym Training site. I think it's a bargain for the price, and there are all kinds of things available every month, as well as the unlimited use of many different listening tools.
    By the way, your articles are highly informative. Thank you.
    Mary Martha
    mmpazos@yahoo.com

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  2. Thanks Mary, you're too kind!

    Thanks for pointing out Dr. Jill's site - it does look very interesting and informative. There is a real emphasis on education regarding brainwave synchronization technology, which is a good thing!

    If readers are interested in having a look, the address is http://www.drjill.biz

    Cheers!

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