What simple sound relieves stress, anxiety, poor sleep, raised blood pressure, and increases Wellbeing?!
Aum is a sound that can be sung out loud or mentally/silently. Aum is often heard at the beginning or end of yoga classes. Whilst it is a really simple sound to make, people often feel embarrassed at the prospect of chanting it, even whilst alone. Perhaps if we all better understood the direct benefits for health and wellbeing, it would not feel like an uncomfortable thing to do, and we would gladly give a few minutes each day to reap the rewards!
There is a lot of science on the benefits of Aum-ing! Here I picked four lots of research that show vast benefits for a wide range of people; whilst these asked people to Aum for 20 minutes or more a day, which sounds unachievable to all but the most dedicated of Aum-ers, you can experience instant benefits from chanting Aum just nine times! Try it and find out!
Note that if your faith or culture has sacred sounds, you can use those sounds instead of Aum, Whilst I do not have the science here, I would bet that they have similar effects!
Aun chanting follows a full inhale through the nose, the exhale making the sounds Aaaa-Uuuu-Mmmmmmm. The A is with the mouth fully open, the U with lips in more of a whistling position, and the M with the lips closed, creating a humming sound. Aum can be taught in different ways; if you have been taught a particular way, then stick with it or ask for clarification!
2. Blood pressure reduction and better sleep in 60 year old women with insomnia
20 minutes a day of “Aum” for 30 days may sound like a lot, but it was worth it for this group of ladies who did their Aum Chanting at just after 5.30pm. Their average blood pressure reduced from 130/78 to 119/76.
A “healthy” blood pressure is 120/80 or below; these ladies went from raised blood pressure to healthy, yay 😊 !!
It is known that blood pressure above the healthy range continues to rise over time. It eventually results in blood pressure that can be damaging to the heart, brain, and organs, and must be treated with medication. For people who prefer to catch blood pressure before it needs medicating, or to help manage blood pressure alongside medication, Aum-ing could help. If you have raised blood pressure, check out the program that Awakening Wellbeing offers to help you.
3. Aum chanting reduces anxiety in the work force!
50 bus drivers aged 25-40 years chanted Aum for 20 minutes a day, six days a week. After four weeks, their anxiety levels dropped significantly, unlike 50 other bus drivers who did not Aum.
Because I’m trained to read science, I notice what others may not. Whilst anxiety did reduce in the Aum-ers, it was mild to start with and mild afterwards. It would be great to see science on people with moderate/high anxiety. Science can be confusing: If you are trying supplements, therapies, or diets based on ‘scientific’ claims, it could be that the science has been purposefully misinterpreted. For instance, a claim could be that weight loss was double in a group that took a supplement compared to a group that did not. Closer inspection of the science reveals that the supplement group lost 1kg over 3 months and the non-supplement group lost 0.5kg. The claim is ‘true’ but are the benefits of 0.5kg worth $60 a month on supplements? Ask for help if you are not sure about scientific claims that are costing you money.
4. Increased sense of wellbeing!!
Thirty people over 60 years of age, chanted Aum for 20 minutes a day. Before Aum-ing, none of them reported a good sense of wellbeing ☹. After Aum-ing for 3 weeks, more than a quarter felt GOOD in their wellbeing! Plus, two thirds of people previously reporting the worst ‘ill’ sense of wellbeing, had shifted into ‘moderate’ or ‘good’ sense of wellbeing! 😊 Aum-ing works!
In the above research, 30 other people did not chant Aum for three weeks! Their wellbeing scores did not change. None of them felt a good sense of wellbeing, one third felt moderate wellbeing and two thirds felt ‘ill’ in their wellbeing. Aum-ing works for wellbeing!!!
If you are looking for a simple way to increase calm and wellbeing today, then give Aum a go!
The benefits of Aum are partly due to breathing with a long exhale while you Aaauuummmmmm. This is known to increase the soothing part of the nervous system, increasing the sense of harmony and wellbeing. You can access more benefits of breathing in Awakening Wellbeing’s Breathing for A Better Life mini-program and Stretch, Breathe, Meditate classes. Contact us Now to find out more.
The short answer is Yes!
The 2018 research, "Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes", reviewed the numerous benefits for people living with this chronic condition. They found that the many perks of yoga worked by affecting psychology (thoughts and emotions), neurology (brain and nervous system), immunity, and hormones.
If you are a Type2 reading this and thinking "I cant go to a yoga class; I'm not flexible; I'm not a pretzel!", it is worth knowing that yoga is not just postures. Yoga can include mindfulness, proper breathing, gentle mobility and stretching movements, intentional visualisation, relaxation, and making sounds (even humming produces a beneficial change to the nervous system and blood pressure!). You just seek out the right teacher for you; they will be teaching a gentle class (called gentle, yin, or restorative), offer purely breathing/mindfulness classes, or when you contact them to ask, they will will be able to offer you something appropriate or refer you elsewhere.
Here are the benefits of yoga for people living with T2 diabetes (and those diagnosed with 'pre-diabetes').
The image below is from the published research and shows even more benefits, including better mood :)
Raveendran, A. V., Deshpandae, A., & Joshi, S. R. (2018). Therapeutic role of yoga in type 2 diabetes. Endocrinology and Metabolism, 33(3), 307. https://doi.org/10.3803/EnM.2018.33.3.307
Never Mind Fight & Flight!! Who is Talking About Tend and Befriend, the Unsung Female Stress Response?!
The year is not over yet! There are whole seasons of serenity and vitality to discover! This article gives you a refreshing and fun new way to thrive for the rest of this year. An unmissable, yet little talked about key to natural healing. It includes your friends and family, and will last for a lifetime! Can it really be this simple? YES!
Most women are searching for peace - but most women are burned out. Most women, including those with supportive partners and healthy kids, are feeling like they need to shut down. Tired, sick and anxious. One after another of emotional meltdowns, painful and irregular periods, tummy upsets, sore joints, migraines, recurrent infections, allergies and sleep deprivation; whilst they simultaneously attempt to work, care for family and support friendships! Can you relate? These are the same women making every effort to enjoy their life, take 'me-time', improve their healthy habitus, and personally grow - everyone is doing their best.
It doesn’t matter whether you have money in the bank or not, a healthy partnership or not, eat seven serves of vegies a day or not; if you’re missing out on this one vital component that is central to our wellbeing, then it all falls down like a stack of elephants. And you very tired. Tired of trying to figure it all out. Where is that elusive ‘Optimised Me!’ that all the magazine covers declare you can have in a week (if you only follow this eating or exercise or meditation program?). It's easy to become jaded by expecting yourself to do or be it all.
The Importance of Accepting Connections
When a woman feels stress, she gets a rise in cortisol and also oxytocin. This 'bonding' hormone as it's commonly known, propels women to seek positive connections she can share with. After you have had a chat with your ever-loving Mum, non-judgmental bestie, or understanding colleague, your cortisol dips and oxytocin continues to rise - you feel calm and relaxed as stress hormones are set back to zero.
Find out more about oxytocin, social interactions and happiness here:
7 minute video at Huffington Post
Unfortunately seeking your begrudging ex, unavailable sister, or stale friendship just wont cut it! When met with antagonism, dismissive attitudes or judgement, stress hormones continue to rise. You need more than practical support or an obligatory listener- a woman also needs to know and feel, that the back up is coming from a willing and loving source. Once you fully utilise your web of support (read on for that), a lot of tension can drop away and you will feel revitalized by interacting with other great and kind people (leave behind the soul suckers).
What if the key to your wellbeing was as simple as a spider’s web?
What if making your own web of support could provide you with the emotional and physical resilience of spiders silk (which is greater than steel!)? If we all had a web, would we feel at breaking point as often or easy?
The great news is you don’t have to start finding 13 more hours in a day to make a web! No, all you need is a piece of paper and pen, a cup of tea, and even better would be to gather a friend (or 4!) to do this together! Ready? Let’s go!
Your web of support
This is where you capture all of your people resources – family, partners, kids, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, employees, and more. This includes; who you can call when your car breaks down and the kids need picking up from school?; who can you reach out to when you have a whole afternoon for yourself and want to go to the beach or the movies? ; who are those besties who you know will accept you in your deepest emotional turmoil?; who cleans the house when business is thriving and you don’t get a chance?; who cooks you dinner when you are laid up with she-flow (period) pains? This simple little web of support can really help you identify how supported you are - and if those supports are healthy.
HINT: If a web doesn’t appeal to you, how about drawing a brightly colored flower, with you in the center and petals as your supports.
How Many Supports Is Enough?
Use the image below as a guide. Don’t worry if you have some boxes empty. When I first did this, 50% of my supports were empty, 25% were filled by long-term friends and the remainder were all my ex!!
It’s okay to have the same person in a number of support roles, just be aware that is the case. It could be that spaces are filled by paid professionals and that is okay too. After all, should you expect your friends to be your psychologist for anything more than life's usual ups and downs? Over time, as your healing journey continues, you may find more healthy relationships entering your life.
Other areas of life to include will vary for each woman but could be:
Do your very best to consider people you know can provide positive reinforcement and enjoy the tasks. For instance, don’t ask your fitness guru friend who has never shown an interest in cooking to help you prepare a five course meal; don’t ask your child-avoiding little-sister to babysit.
Your New Mantra: "Let Me Disappoint You!"
If you are supporting friends and family, can you stop volunteering for tasks you don’t like? Why make cakes for the school fair when you despise baking and 20 other mums love it?
The web of support can take some time to develop so keep chipping away at it this year. Once you open up to the reality of some friendly reinforcement, you’ll be surprised at what can happen!
PLUS - Here's a fun video from John Gray about the right(feminine) and left (masculine) sides of the brain, male and female stress responses, and how they affect your relationship!
Moving the body is so much more than keeping the body trim! Watch and be motivated to dance, surf, cycle, or whatever you find FUN!
Your brain works better on movement – exercise can increase the number of dopamine pleasure receptors in your brain, improve attention & memory, and make you feel great! We all want to feel great….am I right?!
If the video bores you and you have some agitation, then try putting some music on instead and having a dance, or go for a brisk walk. Ten minutes is mush better than nothing and it all counts!
Movement, healthy brain, stress, memory, disease prevention, vibrancy, relieve depression and anxiety.
In most yoga classes you hear an "Aum" (sometimes spelt "Om") sound.
Sometimes it is deep, low and shakes the room! Sometimes it is light and melodic!
Strange but true, you do enough Aum's, and you feel really, really happy!
Stay posted for the science to back this up!
But what does Om mean in the Yoga world? Yogasync shared this video to help us understand.
Sometimes Yoga is described as an eight-limbed path; eight steps to freedom!
Do you know that the ultimate goal of yoga is to cease the stirrings of the mind?! Doesn't that sound good?! A settled mind! Each step of the eight-limbed path is a piece of guidance, that you can use to bring greater calmness and wellbeing into daily life.
Here are the eight steps. They may sound a bit odd because they have odd names for 'Westerners', but once you start to understand each one and apply it to life, you realize how common sense they are! Just like any guidance we choose to apply in life, we can keep going back to these, learning and living them in new ways as our inner and outer life changes. Multiple steps can develop in you at one time; each helps to develop the others. You will find this for yourself as you practice.
Whilst they are eight steps, a person would be wise to focus on 1 and 2, giving themselves an honest reflection of where they are with the Yamas and Niyamas. This reflection is followed with refining the way we live our lives, so that we are more aligned with our natural state; exactly what the Yamas and Niyamas bring us towards. There is another article dedicated to the Yamas and Niyamas.
1. Yamas - are the guidance for how to act in the outer world (people, places) for greater peace of mind. They include things most people are very familiar with, such as not harming ourselves or others with our words or actions and telling the truth. There are five Yamas: without-harm, without-lying, without-stealing, without-excessiveness, without-possessiveness. The Yamas and Niyamas together are very powerful tools for greater peace of mind.
2. Niyamas - are the guidance for how to reflect using our inner resources, for feeling greater inner harmony. They include matters such as contentment and self-discipline, which all of us wish we had more of! Whereas the Yamas are mainly a guiding force for harmonious ways of being in society, the Niyamas help us to seek and find harmony within ourselves. There are five Niyamas: Purity, Contentment, Self-discipline, Self-Reflection, and Contemplation of Truth.
3. Asana - what we commonly know as 'yoga poses', but the word more correctly means 'to sit'. Asanas are the shapes and stretches we make with the poses, which help to align our postures, ease tightness, and correct unhelpful patterns of movement. Asana should enable us 'to sit' for the next stage of the eight limbed path:
4. Pranayama - means 'control of vital life force'. From a scientific viewpoint, Pranayama uses breathing practices to calm or stimulate the nervous system. For instance a calming practice would help us to relax, be mindful, and feel less stressed; more content! A stimulating practice might help us to get alert for a physical game or exam. Beyond the science, Pranayama is said to help cleanse the body (which yoga sees a a shell for the soul) of old, stagnant, or unhelpful energies and beliefs that are blocking the light of True Self.
5. Pratyahara - means sense withdrawal. This is where yoga begins to take on a life of its own. The previous step of Pranayama prepares us to have the sensation of relaxing our whole being. When this occurs we naturally forget to listen, to feel, to smell. We start to become absorbed in an experience that is the quietening of the outer world. From here, we can dive to the inside; a world much neglected in modern society.
6. Dharana - means concentration. Some teachers say it means the ability to focus on one single object (such as a sensation of breath, a sound like a mantra, or image in the mind) for 144 seconds! You should try that! How long can you focus on one thing before a thought, an itch, or something else distracts you from it? You may have had subtle glimpses of concentration, for instance, when you are calmly focused on painting, or stitching, or tending a garden.
7. Dhyana- means meditation. What most of us do these days is not meditation, it is mindfulness or concentration; and it is very worthwhile! Whereas step 6 Concentration, sounds like some effort is required, meditation is effortlessness observation of the object, which leads to...
8. Samadhi, or True Meditation, as taught by the eight limbed path, is complete absorption in the object of meditation; so much so that the one observing, becomes completely merged with the object! This may sound a bit foreign, but it is possible. It happens in a flash and teaches us directly that "all is One".
Whilst we won't all set out to follow the whole path, there are profound advantages to our wellbeing in everyday life to looking at steps 1 through 4. We can influence our physical nervous system and peace of mind directly, by applying the guidance in our daily lives.
See the articles on Yamas and Niyamas to get started. If you would like some assistance to develop your own contentment through the eight-fold path, you can message using the contact form.
A note about religion: This article has not been written with any type of religion in mind. If you are a person of faith, your own faith likely has its own set of guiding principles that are the first steps to seeking True Wellbeing. The ones presented here are not meant to conflict with or replace your own beliefs, whether you be a Spiritualist, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or any other path. In fact, upon reading this, you may have noticed some similarities to your own faith. Awakening Wellbeing is an inclusive entity, with a purpose of harmony, both for the individual and between groups of people.
Image: Ian Alexander, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons