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Mystery of Healing
What is this power that is capable of reconstruction, restoration, and renewing? Where does the secret lie and where does it happen? For so many, these thoughts remain a mystery untouched by conclusion. Yet for something so real, witnessed, and felt, there is a fundamental theme within every aspect of healing.
One would think it should be simple to find a single blame for unwelcome pain. Our worlds are saturated with busyness, crammed schedules, distractions, worry, expectations, and demands. Our bodies strive to keep up with where the mind is and our mind attempts to keep up with where the body is. Yet, how often do we feel present in the moment where the mind and body are one? Unconcerned about what will come or what has been already done. Where reflections may be internalized and vitality abounds. Rather, when problems arise and display themselves as obstacles in our path, our response is to fight back instead of stand firm. Because we are not grounded we fall prey, we accept the pain and do not address with consciousness what it is we need in order to make the change.
May I spill the secret? Will you turn your ears to listen and consider? There is one simple word, one simple concept. It is rest.
The average American acquires less than seven hours of sleep a night. I am not a fan of the word average. A sufficient dose of sleep is medicine to the mind and body. A collection of hormones revolves around sleep cycles. To name a few, Leptin is directly dependent upon sleep and regulates body weight and metabolism. Growth Hormone, releasing the strongest amount an hour into sleep, regulates calcium retention, promotes the breakdown of fat, maintains blood glucose levels, stimulates the immune system and aids in protein synthesis for post exercise muscle recovery. On the other side of the spectrum, sleep deprivation is perceived by the body as a form of physical stress and causes the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. While short term cortisol release is helpful for the adaption of immediate stressors, prolonged levels of the circulating hormone has a series of negative effects including impaired cognitive function, decreased bone density, decreased muscle mass, elevated blood pressure, and lowered immune system function.
Harvard’s publication of Sleep and Mental Health shares with the world the evidence that neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies have found. This research suggests that “a good night’s sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep disruptions set the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.”
There are certain steps one may take to assure oneself of better sleep quality. These may include considering the dosage of caffeine consumed within the day, participating in at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity daily, indulging in comfort, counting your blessings and setting aside “worry time” before turning off the lights to process concerns that harbor under your consciousness throughout the day.
Sleep however is not the only form of rest. Conscious rest is just as an extensive element in cultivating physical health. This may manifest by treating the body and mind as a whole with focused effort of self-awareness. A quiet stretching and exercise program, integrative whole body and calming treatments, mindful contemplation of positivity and enjoying oneself are all equally important. These practices allow a self-check and integration of exploring what is needed to bring balance in the moment, in your day and in your life.
The body performs the miracle of healing with rest. Rest is the one thing that heals a sickness, heals a wound, revitalizes a worn mind, and releases instead of consume. My hope is that you take steps to continually better your well being. For the present and the future, for your self-respect and gratitude, and for the ones you love. In true rest, there is completeness and peace.
Rachel M. Arkie, L.M.T.