Among the most effective tools for reducing stress and enhancing performance are the mind-body techniques of meditation, breath awareness, somato-emotional release, and conscious bodily relaxation. Stress can create physical symptoms, is generally synonymous with feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, frustration, and/or depression, and invariably inhibits optimal performance. Learning to manage one’s stress reactions reduces physical discomfort, alleviates negative emotions like anxiety and anger, and increases levels of calm while also improving performance and its associated outcomes. In our high-stress, high-performing culture, learning mind-body techniques of meditation, breath awareness, somato-emotional release and conscious bodily relaxation are key to living a healthier, happier and more productive life. Ingrid has offered retreats throughout Europe and the United States in mind-body training. In addition to working with her privately, persons can study meditative stress reduction as taught in her book The Art of Effortless Living and her MP3 series of audio exercises based on the book (see Products). Brief descriptions of the mind-body stress reduction tools Ingrid trains people to use can be found below.
Meditation on the breath is a powerful tool for reducing stress and discomfort, and for inducing calm and focused relaxation. It may come as a surprise to some that tension is synonymous with shallow, constricted breathing. Ingrid’s meditation tools teach clients how to focus on their breath in a way that calms the mind, relaxes the body, and deepens the breath. Her MP3 series also helps clients build a home practice of meditative self-awareness and relaxed breathing. The results: calm, increased contentment, a quiet mind, and improved focus.
The practice of Breath Awareness involves taking what you have learned through relaxing into your breath in a regular meditation, and applying this skill in your daily life. By learning how to be aware of and relax into slow, deep breathing while in activity, you adopt a powerful tool for reducing stress and enhancing well-being and productivity. Breath awareness in everyday activities can turn an initially frustrating or anxiety-provoking situation into a successful and productive encounter.
Conscious Bodily Relaxation
Yoga philosophy teaches that every thought corresponds to a bodily sensation, and that freeing the mind from mind chatter is synonymous with releasing the tensions that undergird our thoughts. Conversely, learning how to become aware of and release subtle unconscious muscle tensions, both through the Alexander Technique and through other exercises developed by Ingrid, helps create a quiet, peaceful and focused mind. This means that the more one trains one’s attention on reducing the physical effort in any activity, the clearer and more effortless ones mental processes become. Just as a musician learns to use less effort and more relaxed touch to create beautiful notes, anyone can learn to improve the quality of whatever they do (whether public speaking or playing tennis, engaging an audience or getting out of a chair) by paying conscious attention to reducing the effort involved in the activity. Ingrid’s sessions, as well as her MP3s and three books, incorporate techniques for conscious bodily relaxation.
Somato-emotional Release refers to the experience of spontaneous, unforced releasing of suppressed emotions, an experience that can sometimes happen in the course of a Craniosacral Therapy session. This release is a natural consequence of the relaxation induced by Craniosacral Therapy, since withheld and unrecognized feelings tend to be buried in the body’s tissues. When clients become aware of and release deep-seated emotions in the supportive environment of Craniosacral Therapy, this can have a profoundly beneficial impact on their lives. Most of us have had experiences of suddenly realizing what is ‘really’ bothering us. Similarly, many of us can go for prolonged periods of time unable to recognize what is bothering us. Instead, we just feel poorly, stressed or sick. When a person experiencing stress or discomfort is able in the process of Craniosacral Therapy to recognize and ‘admit’ what is really the matter for them, they can move on to creative life-affirming solutions. Similarly, since unacknowledged emotions can contribute to somatic illness or pain, somato-emotional release can result in dramatic improvements in health and well-being.