1. Play Video Games… to Combat Your Stress

    April 18, 2014

    Play Video Games... to Combat Your Stress

    by Audrey  Hollingshead


    You’re finally home and uber exhausted. Your boss has been riding you like a racing Jockey and it’s becoming rapidly harder to deal with the improbable projects he wants completed by days end. Sighing, you pick up your PS3 controller and start playing Call Of Duty-loving the sound the magazine makes as it empties. Heads explode, pixelated people die, and you can’t help but feel amazing each time.

    After a while you switch to Mortal Kombat and finish each opponent with the same zeal as before. Later, while dreaming, you get the sense that this REM cycle is different then most. You think of going to Mars and BOOM! You’re ON Mars! But how? Are you…YES. You GET it now! You are in a lucid dream and can control everything and anything you like. You go on wild adventures, imagine crazy worlds, and feel so refreshed the next morning you don’t care WHAT your boss throws at you. On the way to work you think. “Today is today so come what may.”

    So how did you attain this Zen-like approach? And what about last night relaxed you so well? Video games. That’s right, the same computer generated blood baths that has every mother and lawmaker worried might be the key to locking up stress and releasing relaxation.

    Ever since Freud wrote his famed Interpretation of Dreams, every psychologist and their assistant have studied dreams extensively. Why DO we dream? What’s the purpose of dreams anyway? And why do we dream what we dream?  What they found out is pretty interesting. Referenced in a study that will be explained below, other studies have found that dreams help us sift through stress, solve problems, and signal us with nightmares when we’re not coping well with our recent trauma.

    Mostly, we experience dreams like a movie we’re somehow part of. We do something strange (like play gulf with Spider Man) and never realize its oddity until we wake up. Other times though, we experience something called Lucid Dreaming. This type of dreaming gives us full control over events and allows us to do whatever we please! Go to prom with Brad Pit, you bet! It is a grand experience that has many devising ways to lucid dream more with some religions claiming the ability gets the dreamer that much closer to enlightenment. But what does this have to with video games? A lot more then you think.

    In a study completed by Jayne Isabel Gackenbach at Grant MacEwan College in Canada, the more you play video games the more you lucid dream. The study worked like this. They asked participants (who were mostly male) to fill out surveys that asked for their basic information, video game history (when did they start playing, how long and what types games they play…etc.) and their dream history (how often they dream and what types of dreams they usually have.)

    After tabulating all the survey information they found that those started playing games at a younger age AND who continued to play for long sessions today had MUCH MORE lucid dreams (and much LESS nightmares) then those who play video games sporadically. They even went on to note that if a gamer had a long gaming session (along with using other attention focusing technology) their chance of lucid dreaming went up dramatically. What’s even more amazing is that the type of game never mattered; platform, first-person-shooter, racing…if they played all day, they could lucid dream all night.

    Based on earlier research, the study’s authors hypothesize that the correlation of video games and lucid dreaming may be caused by the meditative state games put gamers in-much like the meditative state enlightenment seeking people try to achieve.

    But what’s even more interesting about video games as Pen and Teller’s TV show titled B.S. points out, is they may be the reason that violent crime is decreasing. Penn and Teller interview all sorts experts (both OK with and NOT OK with violent video games) and concluded that not only do violent video games give teens a harsh look at the consequences they’d face for violent actions; they also bring friends together for some fun. It’s a social activity that can bring even the shyest of people out to meet new people.

    So the next time you’re feeling like you need a little relaxing break from the world just pick up your controller and press×.

    And remember,

    Dream Well! Dream Positive!


    Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sapromo/5659029011

  2. Yoga poses for Calming your Mind

    May 16, 2013

    Yoga poses for Calming your Mind

    Yoga poses are called asanas in Sanskrit. They are positions in yoga that help in the overall, harmonious well-being of the body and mind.

    These postures help in increasing the body’s flexibility and over time can be an efficient way to lose weight and tone the body. They also help in increasing our power of concentration and help us relax. Yoga embraces all individuals. People of all ages can perform these asanas. Yoga has no side effects. Only care needs to be taken to ensure that very young children and aged persons do not hold the yogic postures for very long. Pregnant women and menstruating women must also avoid practicing yoga. A trained yoga instructor is also very essential to be able to learn the right way of doing yoga.

    Asanas can be of different types. Seated asanas, Standing asanas, Core asanas, Back Bend asanas, Arm Balance asansas, Twisted asanas, Inversion asanas, Supine asanas and Relaxation asanas. Thus there are asanas for the entire body – from head to toe. These asanas are combined with specialized breathing techniques for maximum effect.

    A few important points have to be kept in mind before performing them. The stomach should be empty. The mind should be relaxed. The body at no point should be trembling. No external force must be applied to the body and the breathing needs to be extremely controlled. Yoga has to be performed on the floor but it is necessary to have either a yoga mat or a towel to protect from shocks and injury. For best results asanas must be done on a regular basis, that is, for at least 45 minutes every day.

    The core asana in different schools of yoga is the Surya Namaskar or the Sun salutation. This Sun Salutation is a holistic asana that blends twelve different poses into one long exercise that has a positive impact on the entire body.

    Warm up poses in yoga are very important as they prepare the body for the yoga session. The main warm-up poses include eye exercises, neck exercises, shoulder stretches and lifts and the Cat Pose or Bidalasana.

    standing - Yoga poses for Calming your Mind

    Seated poses are the classic postures that are beneficial for relaxation, but also have other curative powers. The main seated poses include the Easy pose or Sukhasan, the Child Pose, the Lotus Pose, the Hero Pose, the Garland Pose, the Seated Forward Bend pose and Full Boat pose.

    Standing poses make you aware of your body and posture and form the root of body balance and body alignment. The Tadasan or the Mountain Pose is the root of all standing asanas. Other basic standing poses include the Tree Pose, the Warrior Pose, the Chair Pose, the Triangle Pose, the Crescent Moon Pose, the Half Moon Pose, the Standing Forward Bend Pose and the Hands to Feet pose.

    Supine poses are essentially those asanas that are performed with the back on the floor. The Pavanamuktasan or the Wind Relieving pose, the leg raises, the leg pulls and the leg reclining lunge are main supine poses.

    The Dog Pose, the Bow Pose, The Bridge Pose, The Cobra Pose, the Wheel Pose, the Locust Pose and the Fish Pose are the main Backward Bend asanas. They help in fortifying the back and spine, increase flexibility. They also give a good stretch to the limbs. Those with back problems should refrain from doing these or should consult a trained specialist before attempting them.

    Backward Bend - Yoga poses for Calming your Mind

    Twisted poses are mainly beneficial for the back and spine, but also help in abdominal stretching. The Sage twist or the Marichyasana and the half spinal twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana are main Twisted asanas.

    Balance poses and Inverted poses such as the Head Stand, Shoulder Stand,
    Hand Stand, the Crane Pose and the Plough Pose help in increasing bodily balance and also strengthen targeted body parts. These are very often very advanced poses that can be performed after having followed a rigorous yoga program

    The Cool down poses or the Relaxing poses help finish off the session and help in calming the mind and making the mind one with the body. They are also called regenerative poses. The Savasan or the Dead Corpse pose and the Final Corpse pose are the main finishing poses.  For details for yoga poses kindly visit http://www.yogawiz.com/yoga-poses.html

    Images Credit: Lululemon Athletica