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About Mind/Body Consultant Services & Protocols

A.S.S.E.N.T. Into Health Management Systems



Relaxation vs. Tension
Centeredness vs. Fight/Flight
Expansion vs. Contraction
Acceptance vs. Resistance
Being Now vs. Future Striving


"Eleven Rules for Better Sleep Hygiene"

Support Systems



Time Management


The A.S.S.E.N.T. Into Health outline above provides a listing of five different polarities:

Relaxation vs. Tension
Centeredness vs. Fight/Flight
Expansion vs. Contraction
Acceptance vs. Resistance
Being Now vs. Future Striving

All of these polarities represent different ways of approaching life and the circumstances of living. For example, we can approach the circumstances with an attitude of "resistance" ("I can't believe this is happening. I'm so sick of this.") or it's polar opposite "acceptance" ("Whatever is happening now must have some purpose. Perhaps I am learning something important which I will need later in life.").

Relaxation vs. Tension

In North American society it often seems almost inappropriate to respond to stressful or confidential situations in a relaxed fashion. For many it is as if what has been taught is "when the going gets tough, the tough gets tense." Tension, however, is almost always the least healthy response to stressful situations. Life it seems is best lived with an open hand rather than a clenched fist. The more relaxation in response to difficult situations, the more ability there is to access and mobilize internal coping resources.

Many examples of this relaxation principle can be found in nature. For example, the trees which are most likely to survive a winter ice storm with their branches intact are those (e.g., birch or willow) which are more flexible. The trees which tend to sustain the most damage are always those (e.g., oak or maple) which are more rigid and tense.

Therefore, it always makes sense when under stress to be reminded to relax both mentally and physically. Practicing basic relaxation breathing and simply having a healthy conversation internally can go a long way towards achieving this relaxed state.

Centeredness vs. Fight/Flight

Another seemingly primal response which humans have in situations of tension or danger is what has come to be known as the "fight/flight" reaction. When we are frightened or under stress we seek to either attack the source of our stress or run away from it as fast as possible. In contract, a much healthier and more adaptive response is that of becoming "centered."

Centeredness is such a different way of approaching the environment that it merits some explanation. Often people become off balance when acting in an overly aggressive or overly submissive manner. For instance if in an argument with someone important there maybe an attempt to either win over them in the argument or conversely be tempted to simply give up one's position and align one's views in total accordance with those expressed by the other person. A more "centered" response is to look inside and then make a personal statement about feelings. For example, "When you step on my foot I feel uncomfortable and I would like you to get off my foot." This is much different than statements such as "You're the most horrible clod I've ever seen" or "Go ahead, you can step on my foot whenever you want to."

What follows is a specific psycho-physiological technique which can teach achievement of a more centered internal state. It can be helpful to practice this centering technique several times each day in order to develop an internal instinctive grasp of the centered response.

In order to "center" focus attention on the exact geographic middle of the physical body. That is a point an inch or two below the naval and in the center of the abdomen. Just as you can hold out your hand in front of you and feel the sensation of opening and closing our fingers (try it) you can "feel" this center point in your body.

Once a sense of this center point of physical anatomy is developed, it can be used as an intervention in times of stress, crisis, and when wrapped up in compulsive doing. By focusing on this center point, attention shifts inward and internal balance gets reestablished.

In order to "test" your centered state, ask someone to give you a gentle push on the shoulder while standing side by side with you. If your body wobbles, you are not centered. If you feel a sense of solidness and stability you have mastered the centered state. As with all healthy behaviors, we need to keep practicing.

Expansion vs. Contraction

When under stress many people experience the desire to contract and pull inward. For example, someone who is experiencing the breakup of a relationship such as a divorce often will keep their feelings to themselves attempting to "solve the problem" on their own without the benefit of friends or relatives. This is an example of contraction or the human instinct to in a sense "circle the wagons" when facing stressful situations.

Unfortunately a contraction response in a stressful situation can often increase rather than decrease the level of stress. Resources are cut off as contraction occurs which are needed to solve problems (friends, choices, financial resources) or help make a smoother and more comfortable adjustment. Thinking in more expensive terms allows the possibilities and potentials to be seen that normally might not be drawn upon.

Acceptance vs. Resistance

This is one of the most powerful attitudinal stress management approaches. Society trains us to see life in terms of problems which need to be controlled or overcome. In fact, life can be best viewed as a river which is moving in a healthy and nurturing direction - so long as we don't stand in its way! Developing a sense of gratitude, acceptance and awareness of destiny allows us to "go with the flow" rather than fighting the river of events happening. When life is accepted, we open up to and embrace the energy around us. When life is resisted, energy is cut off. We do not always have to like or be happy about what is happening, but it is always healthiest to approach events with an attitude of acceptance.

Being Now vs. Future Striving

Some philosophies and spiritual leaders have suggested that the essence of life can be found in the five senses (sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing). All of these senses are experienced in the immediate moment rather than in the past or the future. In order to fully enter into the river of human existence, therefore, it is essential that to learn to live in the now. Now is the time to reach out to friends and neighbors for comfort and love and now is the time to be able to enjoy the beauty of the natural world. It is perhaps through the five senses that the knowledge of the nature of the universe and God is gained.

When living in the now, events are experienced as much less stressful and difficult since there is less worry about the past and less fretting over the future.

Special Help for Stress-Related Fatigue

Ongoing stress can result in physical fatigue as various chemicals and systems of the body are impacted and depleted. Some of the helpful over-the-counter supplements which can assist in recovering from stress-related oxidative damage are:

L-carnitine: Found in meat and dairy products, this chemical acts to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria for energy processing. Generally accepted daily supplementation levels range from 1,000-4,000 mg daily.

CoQ-10: Found in fatty fish, broccoli, spinach and various nuts, this enzyme has many valuable functions including assisting the body with energy production. Generally accepted daily supplementation levels range from 75 to 250 mg.

Glutathione: Found in yogurt, eggs, wheat germ, and meat, this tipeptide is made from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine. Glutathione assists the liver in detoxifying the effects of stress. Generally accepted daily supplementation level is two grams of N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) and two grams of glutamine.

Alpha lipoic acid: Found in red meat and potatoes, this substance converts carbohydrates and sugar into energy. Generally accepted daily supplementation levels range from 50 to 150 mg up to three times daily.

* We recommend the book America Exhausted: Breakthrough Treatments for Fatigue and Fibromyalgia by former U.S. Olympic camp physician Edward Conley, D.O.


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