There's a good reason we soak in hot rather than cool water when we want to relax: After the body adjusts to the shock of the heat, the blood vessels dilate and blood pressure goes down—sometimes way down, which is why hot tubbers are advised not to soak for more than 15 minutes.
It's not the glossy lacquer of a pedicure that puts us in a pleasant frame of mind; rather it's the caressing of the digits. The health benefits of massage therapy that have been shown in countless studies include reducing blood pressure, and easing anxiety. In a 1996 study at the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute, 26 subjects received a massage in a chair twice a week while another 24 people were told just to relax in their chairs for 15 minutes. After five weeks, the massaged subjects scored significantly lower on tests for depression and job stress.
Chef Cary Neff, of Arizona's Miraval spa, wants you to think differently about how you shop for food (carefully), prepare food (mindfully), and eat food (mmmm). Here, he serves up some healthy recipe ideas for a high-energy life.
If your mind wanders, don't be concerned. Notice whatever has captured your attention, then let go of the thought or feeling, and return to the awareness of the breath. In this way, meditation teaches gentleness and an ability to forgive our mistakes in life and to go on.
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