Resiliency Pillar 3: Building Mind-Body Muscle Memory
So what do the Dalai Lama, comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Harvard Medical School, and the Navy Seals, all have in common?
They all understand the vital importance of mindful self-calming strategies to physical and mental well-being, and on optimal human performance.
Navy Seal operators require the highest mental focus under the most extreme stress conditions; the Dalai Lama is a long-time proponent of mindful breathing to achieve peace of mind; the comedian and actor reports using a kind of meditative mental focus to "recharge" his creativity and energy level; and Harvard University physicians and scientists have performed cutting edge research linking the practice of simple mindful calming strategies to increased resilience, and the successful prevention and treatment of a host of common ailments including:
High blood pressure
Coronary artery disease
And others! 
No matter what your interest path, health, happiness or higher performance, self calming and mindfulness tools will dramatically accelerate your progress with as little as a few minutes a day of regular practice.
Zebras and You
An award winning stress scientist once proposed some thoughts as to "why zebras don't get ulcers", and we do. In fact, he wrote a whole book about it by that title! 
The answer is fairly simple. When chased by a lion for instance, the zebra's nervous system instantly goes into "condition red". A massive "dump" of stress hormones prepare it for fight or, in this case, flight. Once the threat is removed (e.g. outrun!), the zebra's nervous system quickly resets itself to "condition yellow", or a state of calm, relaxed vigilance.
We, on the other hand, fortunately don't experience life-threatening "condition red" emergencies very often. Instead, we are beset by an ongoing barrage of minor irritants and chronic daily hassles, none of which rise to becoming a threat to our immediate survival. Over time, however, they accumulate and lead to decreased quality of life, negative habits and damaged health.
24/7 cable news, traffic jams, noise pollution, work conflicts, negative economic conditions, marital squabbles, unpaid bills, political mischief, health concerns, family dynamics, and on and on.
Our nervous systems go into a chronic "pink alert" day-in day-out, week-in week-out, and month-in month-out. This causes the release of powerful stress hormones (e.g. adrenaline, cortisol, etc.) that course throughout our bodies for sustained periods without sufficient discharge or release.
It is no wonder that so many of the serious illnesses we face today are lifestyle-related. They are deeply impacted by chronic, low grade disruptions to our autonomic nervous systems which are implicated in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal disease and many others.
And look at some of the top "drivers" of health care costs: Cigarette smoking, still the single most preventable cause of death; obesity; and excessive alcohol use. All of them used by too many to "soothe" their over-revved nervous systems, albeit only temporarily.
If a cure were found for cancer today it would only add about two years to the lifespan of the average female. If a cure for obesity were found though, it would likely add three times that! 
In addition, at least one in five of our acute care hospital beds is filled with people experiencing alcohol-related difficulties (e.g. accidents, liver problems, heart disease, etc). 
Your "Nervous" System
If someone asked you to kick your feet, clap your hands or speak your name, you could easily do it. These are controlled by your voluntary nervous system.
But what if they asked you to immediately:
Double your heart rate?
Dilate the pupils of your eyes?
Not possible, because these and other important functions are controlled by your autonomic (i.e. automatic) nervous system. Your autonomic nervous system regulates all basic life functions like digestion, blood pressure, heart rate, respiration and others. Note that these are exactly the ones most affected by stress, and negatively affected by being stuck in "condition pink" for lengthy periods.
Your autonomic nervous system has two parts.Think of them as a "gas pedal" and a "brake". The gas pedal (the sympathetic part) revs you up for action. The brake pedal (the para-sympathetic part) slows you down, soothing your internal organs leading to a state of cardiac "coherence", or balance. The more you are in this state the better your health status, and more effective your performance in all areas.
Slowing Things Down
There are basically two ways to slow down an over-revved, chronically strained autonomic nervous system. Think of yourself in a car barreling down the road at 100 miles per hour, when the speed limit is 40.
To slow down, you could keep your foot on the gas while stepping on the brake at the same time. This would reduce your speed quickly, but would also lead to some bad side effects: extra wear and tear on the brakes and engine as they "battled" for control. This is the way a lot of medicines that target the autonomic nervous system work by the way; quickly but with unintended consequences (i.e. side effects).
The second strategy involves letting up on the gas pedal and allowing the car to naturally slow down to the desired speed, and then simply holding it there. It might take a bit longer, but would certainly save a lot of strain on the vehicle.
R4L emphasizes the second path, and uses learnable self-control tools and habits to naturally synchronize your ability to rev things up when it is called for, but to quickly "reset" and calm yourself to a level more supportive of your health, happiness and productivity over the long run.
Positive results can be further amplified when combined with a "mindfulness" component.  This practice alone improves mental focus, pain tolerance and mood by keeping you "in the moment" and not catastrophizing about the future, or reliving past traumas and failures.
You bet! Do you have a telephone? Of course you do. But, do you have a "telomere"? Not only do you have one, you have many. Telomeres are tiny "dabs" of DNA that sit on the ends of your chromosomes.
Telomeres serve the same function as the little plastic caps on the ends of shoestrings. The plastic caps prevent shoestrings from unraveling when you repeatedly tie and untie your shoes. Telomeres perform the same function for chromosomes as they naturally reproduce.
Recent scientific findings have shown that telomeres are "bio-markers" that are excellent indicators of your overall health status. The longer your telomeres, the healthier you are. In the case of telomeres, size does matter!
In one fascinating study scientists identified a group of people known to have very high levels of stress, mothers who were caregivers for disabled children. They found a matching control group that was the same as these mothers in every important way, except that they were not subject to the high stress of caregiving.
They then performed a careful blood sample analysis on both groups. They found that the group subjected to the highest levels of stress showed significantly shortertelomeres, equivalent to "at least one decade of additional aging." 
How About This:
More importantly, however, when the practice of simple autonomic calming and mindfulness strategies are implemented, negative changes at the cellular/genetic level have actually been shown to reverse themselves.
For example, a second study looked at the way "genes" were turned "off" or "on" in a positive direction in a group of people who were known to regularly practice some form of mindful breathing and/or other self calming methods.Then they compared them to a very similar group of individuals who differed only in the fact that they had no experience in practicing these self-regulation techniques.
The findings were striking. They showed that there was a major difference in genetic "expression" between the two groups favoring those who regularly practiced some form of mindful self-calming. These included over 5,000 specific genes, including those most associated with premature aging, reduced immunity, oxidative stress and other health-related processes. 
In addition, autonomic calming strategies have been widely researched and applied to some of the most common and serious health conditions with very exciting results. Conditions which have been shown to be positively affected include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, COPD, gastrointestinal disorders, insomnia, anxiety, chronic pain, diabetes and others. 
How does it work?
Say your autonomic nervous system needs about 10 units of energy to keep you functioning well. But life's irritants and chronic daily hassles slowly build over time. And now, outside your conscious awareness, your over-revved nervous system is producing 15 units.
Where does that extra 5 units of un-needed energy go? They go into your most vulnerable organs, often leading to medical symptoms. Some of the most common effects are sleep difficulties, gastrointestinal problems, and others already described. Because traditional western health care focuses mainly on medicines and surgery, it often misses the boat in fully treating the many modern illnesses which are the result of "autonomic overload."
So what does it make sense for someone interested in bolstering their overall resilience to do?
How about identify one or more simple strategies and commit just several minutes per day to developing a resiliency habit that can dramatically increase your self-control, concentration, and overall achievement levels?
Assess your new learning by clicking on the link below and answering some brief quiz questions:
MAKING IT REAL: BUILDING MIND-BODY MUSCLE MEMORY
Here are 3 proven strategies that you can select from and begin using right away to strengthen your mind/body "muscle memory". Please read about them all, then select one to begin with. As you grow your skill over a period of 21-30 days, you can select a second, and then a third when you're ready.
With sufficient focus, you will begin to see rapid results as you apply these strategies that will, like compound interest, "grow" your telomeres over time. They will infuse your mind and body with a level of protective resilience to your benefit for as long as you incorporate them into your life.
Sabotage Alert !
You can easily sabotage your resilience by telling yourself you "don't have the time" to practice these well-validated, scientific tools on a regular basis for 21-30 days. But the average person spends several hours a day watching television, playing video games, or surfing the internet. You know who you are!
Surely you can adjust your schedule and build in 10-20 minutes per day to initiate some habits that can change your life. Don't settle for less!