ARTICLE: Research shows vagus nerve stimulation can help reduce inflammation

Of course, they are talking about implanting a device in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but why don’t they look into tai chi and qigong doing similar stimulation and results, especially since this article talks about deep breathing, meditation, and even yoga. Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what we’re doing when we do tai chi! Better take notes.

ARTICLE: The Link Between Stress And Heart Disease May Lie In The Brain

This article is in Forbes magazine, written by Alice Walton. Findings in a study reported on in the Lancet link the brain to stress and heart disease, with inflammation in the arteries as a major symptom. Duh…I suspect as much when I suffered from migraines as a teenager. It’s taken 50 years for science to catch up, but I’m glad it’s coming round to greater grasp by researchers.

The article concludes that “Exercise, meditation, talk therapy and other methods have been shown to be effective.” Well, I suggest doing tai chi. Why? For one reason, for the busy A personalities among us, is Tai Chi is a meditation and exercise wrapped up into a single activity. How’s that for multi-tasking?

Here the Forbes article:

Two strategies to help manage stress

I do tai chi and qigong as exercises to reduce stress. I find them effective because movement central to each can loosen up inertia and stagnation produced by various types of stress. Just sitting too long can produce physical stress, accompanied by poor lymph drainage and negative brain/hormone activity. Tai chi and qigong get you moving in beneficial ways.

Stress is one of those conditions that predisposes you to illness, says Dr. Lissa Rankin, author of Mind Over Medicine, Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, published in 2014. In a TEDx talk, she covers a whole range of topics related to stress and how modern medicine has fallen short of addressing the cause of illness, instead providing pills for treating symptoms. She gives a very simple and clear definition of stress that I find useful and worth writing down.

“Stress is not what we think it is. Stress is a badge of honor: I’m busy, successful, important.”

“Stress is anything that triggers the amygdala in your brain to turn on the stress response” (Walter Cannon, Harvard). Also known as the “flight or fight” response. It puts you into the sympathetic nervous system and fills the body with cortisol and epinephrine and other poisonous stress hormones. The amygdala doesn’t know the difference between being chased by a tiger and negative thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. In contrast, the parasympathetic system triggers the relaxation response from which Dr. Rankin drew from an epiphany: “The body is naturally equipped with naturally occurring repair systems. Those natural systems are deactivated every time the body is in stress response.”

She included in her talk a broad range of emotional, psychological, and behavioral states that also define stress. You can watch the video on at this link:

Both tai chi and qigong exercises effectively engage the mind in a focused activity that diverts your attention away from stressful thoughts and emotions. You have to do the initial work to overcome inertia, but once you do, you’re likely to continue in the direction towards relaxation and contentment.

I also practice meditation that I’m learning from the Buddhist tradition. Some meditation involves focusing on breathing and letting thoughts and feelings fall away once they rise up, which they inevitably do. They also inevitably fall away if you focus on the task you set out to do, which is to focus your attention on a point and maintain that focus.

Part of my practice is effective when I accept that feelings, emotions, thoughts that have negative edges to them are really separate from the energy that it takes to provoke and buoy them. So I try to allow the energy to separate from attachment to the feeling or thought.

PT Richard