Life is stressful. Whether it is the normal stress of our day-to-day lives or the stress of significant life changes, it all impacts our emotions and brain health.
Often, people will miss the early signs of how stress is impacting their health. Some of the first signs include a reduction of saliva in the mouth, making it difficult to speak and swallow. Tear production slows, causing eye irritation and difficulty in vision. The nose becomes dry and the ears shut out many of the sounds around them, taking away the other senses that help people understand their surroundings.
This low-energy state can also cause insomnia, headaches, and migraines. People suffer with stomach and digestion issues and heartburn. Paying attention to these early signs of stress and taking steps to become present can help alleviate the chances of stress-causing more severe health problems—of the dis-ease causing disease.
To remain healthy, happy and peaceful, practice the Happy COW: Cool head, Open heart, Warm abdomen. When in a positive state, the head remains cool, allowing freedom of thought and ease in understanding. The heart is open to emotions and feelings, flushing warmth to the abdomen, allowing it to function properly. This flows in a circular motion from the top of the head, down through the heart, and to the abdomen, then back up again.
This is similar to what happens in nature. The sun radiates heat to the Earth; water on Earth evaporates and cools the air and the process continues. When this process is disrupted, there is inclement weather and natural disaster.
When experiencing the negative emotions brought on by stress, the heart closes, trapping emotions inside. The head heats up, resulting in difficulty in reasoning and decision making, causing strong reactions and issues in relationships. The stomach cools, causing a loss of appetite and digestion issues.
To heal the body, focus needs to be placed in the body. Tapping is an effective relaxation technique based on the principles of acupuncture. As a variation on acupuncture, tapping is a form of acupressure. By using the fingers, hands and fists to tap on focused areas of the body, the acupuncture points (meridians) switch from closed to open. Think of it as knocking on a closed-door until someone opens it—this is what tapping does for the acupuncture points.
To recover the Happy Cow, practice this simple tapping exercise:
- Open the heart – With your fingertips, begin tapping in the center of the chest at the sternum and breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, making a sound on the exhale. Focus on the feelings and if tears start, allow their release. Continue this for five to 15 minutes. It may be painful at first in the area being tapped, but this discomfort will ease as the acupuncture points, or doors, open.
- Warm the abdomen – To create energy in the lower energy center, make a fist and begin tapping just below the belly button with the pinky side of the fist. At the same time, begin the next exercise.
- Cool the head – Known as brain wave vibration. Turn the head slowly from side to side, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, allowing sound on the exhale. Be present to the emotions that arise. Allow them to flow, whether positive or negative. Continue the abdomen tapping and head exercise for five to 15 minutes.
It is recommended to do this practice every evening at bedtime to release any negative emotions and stress of the day, allowing for more restful sleep—and a happy COW.
Master Hong Kim is the owner of Body and Brain Yoga and Tai Chi, in Minnetonka. As an instructor at the center, he provides a modernized system of holistic healing and mind-body practices that are based on ancient Korean techniques. Classes and programs focus on yoga, tai chi, meditation, martial arts and energy healing at all levels. For more information and to register for classes, visit BodyNBrain.com/Minnetonka.