While stress is an inevitable part of our human experience, chronic stress is not. Yet it is an epidemic that affects so many of us. What is so exciting about modern neuroscience is that research is showing how we can rewire our brains for well-being, and turn down our stress response in short amounts of time. One recent study found that just 14 seconds of recalling a positive emotional memory calmed down the brain after a stress inducing event, as measured by a lower release of stress chemicals into the blood as well as increased activity in parts of the brain associated with emotional regulation. In the book Words Can Change Your Brain, Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman discuss how even a single word can influence the expression of our genes that regulate stress, and how focusing on positive words (practiced consistently over a period of time) can not only shift our emotional experience but can also result in beneficial changes in our brain.
I share with you below a 3 1/2 minute meditation that I created that can be used at any point within the course of the day to help dial down the stress response. While our stress response is designed to go off when we perceive a threat, but then return to baseline as soon as the immediate threat has passed, this often doesn’t happen. In our modern day world, our thinking and tendency for rumination and worrying can often keep our stress response elevated long after a stressful situation has passed, so that we miss this important opportunity to reset our nervous system and bring it back into balance. This meditation will offer you a chance to reset and come back into balance. It is part of a workshop I created to offer people practical tools to reduce chronic stress and develop greater resiliency and well-being.