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Natural stress relief meditation (NSR) is a relaxation technique, which is one of the various subtypes of mind-body interactions included in complementary and alternative medicine. It is a means of managing the effects of excessive stress.

Stress is a normal aspect of everyday life, but for some it triggers physiological responses that can have detrimental effects on health. While medication and exercise have shown to be effective, NSR adds a level of active mental participation for the patient to use in an effort to receive the benefits of the relaxation.

Therapists who employ NSR consider that it is worthwhile to look for a common source for all problems and seek a general solution. There has been some peer-reviewed work.[1]

NSR Meditation consists of a simple mental technique called transcending that is performed twice a day. Its intention is to eliminate mental stress that therapists describe as being "stored" in the nervous system. The goal is to eliminate the emotional response to stress and obtain a feeling of "refreshment."

In the NSR paradigm, the most effective way to eliminate stored stresses is to dissolve them through the deep state of rest generated by transcending the field of thought, following a thought back to its creation. Thoughts are created within a field of silence, intelligence, and creativity; contact with that field is enjoyable, restful, and expands our awareness. NSR claims to work by mentally making contact with the original source of thought, pure consciousness, and therefore remove long-standing suffering and bring fulfillment to life.

The NSR technique

NSR is a simple mental technique practiced twice a day for 15 minutes each time, performed in a sitting position with the eyes closed.

Stress

Everyone reacts to life situations (stressors) differently. One person may be traumatized by the same situation that merely poses an interesting challenge to another. Stress is defined as is a pathological process resulting from the reaction of the body to external forces and abnormal conditions that tend to disturb the organism's homeostasis. [2] Stresses are caused when a person is exposed to stressors; they are very much like the circuit breakers in a house in that they limit the system in order to protect it from further damage.

The human nervous system is that it can repair or eliminate the effects of stress. It does this as part of its normal functioning whenever the body gets rest that is deep enough. Sleep is sufficient to eliminate some, but not all, of the stress accumulated during our daily activity. This means that stresses tend to accumulate, weakening the functioning of our nervous system. This makes us more susceptible to accumulating even more stresses. Instead of growing in positivity, intelligence, and strength we become more fragile, and problems increase.

We need a deeper form of rest, a fourth major state of physiology (beyond waking, dreaming, and deep sleep), to reach and release our accumulated stresses. This is exactly what NSR Meditation provides, by the process known as transcending.

Transcending

Thoughts do not occur fully-formed. Instead, they develop in the mind on a subconscious level before being experienced consciously. When we practice NSR Meditation we experience the earlier stages in the development of a thought. These earlier stages are perceived as subtler, vaguer, or more abstract than the more concrete thoughts that we experience whenever we are awake.

The process of being aware of earlier stages in the development of a thought (transcending) culminates in the experience of the source of thought, which is consciousness itself. Just as a movie screen, that normally functions by showing only the images cast on it, can be seen when the house lights are up, so consciousness, which is that aspect of the mind that reflects the images cast on it by the senses, can be seen clearly when we are completely aware, but not distracted by thoughts.

The goal of NSR is a state of restful awareness, alert yet without a specific focus. This state is unbounded, joyful, and profoundly satisfying. It has been called transcendence, samadhi, or satori in the Eastern traditions of the development of consciousness.

Rather than being a difficult practice, one which requires trying to stop or prevent thoughts, transcending[3] is actually just as effortless and natural as falling asleep. We merely need to take a correct angle then let go. The actual "dive within" happens automatically, without any effort on our part.

While the mind experiences transcending, the body mirrors the process by entering into a deep state of rest. This extraordinarily deep rest is what eliminates even deep-rooted stresses, strengthening the nervous system and improving all aspects of life.

Since transcending is effortless and makes use only of the natural process of thinking, anyone who can think can learn it. Intelligent and open-minded skepticism does not interfere with the successful practice of NSR, and can even improve the speed of learning by helping us to pay better attention to the instructions.

Benefits

The elimination of stress produces many benefits. Depending on the individual, some of these benefits will be noticed before others. Eventually, however, the deep rest produced by transcending is sufficient to dissolve all stress and bring fulfillment to life.

Here are some of the benefits produced by NSR Meditation:

  • Clear thinking. Without the distractions generated by stress, our thoughts are powerful, intelligent, and useful to ourselves and others.
  • Good health. The deep rest provided by NSR promotes cardiovascular health, strengthening of the immune system, and better mental health.
  • Better productivity. NSR improves productivity by eliminating fatigue and increasing intelligence.
  • Increased autonomy. NSR improves self-reliance and self-satisfaction by removing obstacles to the full expression of the self. Psychologist Abraham Maslow called this state of full functioning self-actualization[4]ref name=MaslowMP>Maslow, A. (1970), The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, Viking Press, pp. XXXX</ref>
  • Satisfaction with life. NSR improves overall satisfaction with life through improving productivity and developing self-actualization.

Validation

The physiological effects of transcending have been observed through galvanic skin response (GSR), brain wave changes measured with electroencephalography (EEG), and several types of psychological inventories (STAI and SISA)[7] that demonstrate a reduction in anxiety.

One peer-reviewed paper has been published.

How NSR is learned

NSR Meditation is self-taught using a printed manual and a short CD. This procedure allows the cost of learning NSR to be just a small fraction of that of its closest competitor, Transcendental Meditation©. The NSR manual contains six lessons, to be read over a period of three days. Each lesson starts with the practice of NSR and concludes with the reading of a few pages of instructional material.

This same format is used whether one person is learning by him- or herself or whether all the members of a company or school are learning at the same time. Studying the manual and practicing on one's own, along with personal support in the form of access to prompt and accurate answers to questions about experience, has been found to be a very effective and successful means of learning NSR.

Learning NSR requires understanding written English (a version in Italian is also available) and the ability to follow simple instructions. Anyone who is at least 14 years old can learn.[2]

Background and history

Transcendental Meditation

In the mid 1950's, an Indian monk named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi formulated the first understanding of the effortless nature of meditation, samadhi, and enlightenment, along with a comprehensive program of instruction that brought this possibility to the world for the first time. Called Transcendental Meditation, the technique has been taught since that time throughout the world by teachers specially trained by Maharishi.[5]

TM has developed several aspects that prevent many people from being able to learn. Its course fee is prohibitively high ($2000.00 in the USA), and it includes nonessential elements that many find to be religious or mystical, and therefore objectionable.

Istituto Scientia

As an alternative to TM, a nonprofit group in Italy called Istituto Scientia, led by physics researcher Fabrizio Coppola, got together in the late 1990's to develop a comparable technique that did not have these objectional aspects. By 2003, Istituto Scientia was offering their own course, called la Tecnica Naturale Anti-Stress (TNAS) in Italian, and Natural Stress Relief in English. This is the course now known as NSR Meditation. The NSR course may be downloaded in English or Italian from the Istituto Scientia website.

References

  1. Psychological Reports 101: 130-134, August, 2007
  2. Medical Subject Headings, National Library of Medicine
  3. The process of transcending
  4. Maslow, A. (1954), Motivation and Personality (First Edition ed.), Harper, pp. XXXX
  5. [The official TM website: http://www.tm.org/ Transcendential Meditation official website]