Why Harmonica Based Stress Reduction Works
Of course, the most obvious reason is that in order for any method or program to "work," people have to want to do it.
And since HBSR™ is fun and entertaining, they do.
However, in addition to that, HBSR™ is based on well established cognitive science (AKA "brain science").
To really understand HBSR™ — there are three things that we need to know:
1) What is "stress?"
Stress is the physical and mental state that we experience when certain ancient physical reactions are triggered.
These reactions are called "fight or flight responses."
Originally, they helped give our ancestors the extra speed needed to run away from a saber-toothed tiger, or if necessary, the strength to fight him off with our stone axe.
The fight or flight response temporarily provides us with greater strength, speed, and resistance to pain and blood loss.
Our blood pressure shoots up as blood pools in the center of our body, which reduces our likelihood of bleeding to death from bites to our arms or legs.
All digestion process stop, so that this energy can go to the muscles.
Our muscles are "supercharged" — that's why we read of grandmothers picking the back ends of Buicks off their grandchild's leg in an emergency.
But this all comes at a price, if we experience repeated fight or flight responses throughout our daily lives.
Sure, the fight or flight response is a lifesaver when a sabertoothed tiger attacks, or the homicidal taxi driver aims straight at us.
But the unpleasant truth is that IT IS OUR OWN THOUGHTS which are the most common triggers for fight or flight responses.
Every time we read a scary story in the news, or imagine the grim look on the boss's face as she reads our most recent report, or see our least favorite politician on TV, we trigger a fight or flight response in our brain.
Dozens or even hundreds of times a day.
And our blood pressure soars, our digestion stops, and our muscles tense up.
No wonder so many of us have high blood pressure, bad digestion, and pains in the back and neck!
These are Repetitive Mental Stress Injuries™ — because just as repeated stress damages our fingers or hands or knees, it damages our mental state!
Note: Some amount of stress is okay. A tennis match against an evenly matched opponent, with the loser paying for drinks afterwards, will be exhilarating and exciting for most people.
But a match of you against Serena Williams, with the loser put to death? Most of us would be shaking too hard to even hold a racquet!
2) How can stress be "short-circuited?"
Fortunately, there is a simple way to short-circuit unnecessary fight or flight responses.
Very simple indeed, but not always easy.
If you can turn your attention VERY CLOSELY onto your own breathing, even for less than a minute, you can short-circuit most fight or flight responses.
This technique has been known and used for thousands of years, even though the science underlying the process has only been identified recently (when you focus on your breath, you are stimulating the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system — but you don't have to know that, to use the technique)...
3) Why the humble blues harmonica is the perfect tool for short-circuiting stress, anywhere and anytime it arises.
For the past two thousand or so years, many yoga and meditation methods have emphasized training ourselves to focus our attention on the breathing process.
I have the utmost respect for these methods, but for many people — myself included — they often seem abstract and difficult to practice.
Fortunately, the harmonica is the idea tool for getting people to focus on their breathing!
It's fun. And it provides INSTANT SATISFACTION — I can get any group, of any size, playing blues or rock or folk harmonica within just a few minutes!
And once the group learns how to play just a little harmonica, they are ready for the real content of the event:
A variety of exercises and role plays which I've created, that teach my participants how to use their harmonica breath focus to short-circuit fight or flight responses as they arise!
With practice, it soon becomes an almost automatic response, and you then can use the world's best stress-reducer — breath focus — for the rest of your life!