Herb Blurb
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • September 2012
Written by  Gail Okray

The art of longevity

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” –George Burns 

We all know that stress can have adverse effects on the body, including heart function, cortisol production and depression, just to name a few. We also know that some stressors are good for us, provoking our “fight or flight” response, which keeps us safe in dangerous situations. Could those unhealthy stressors, the ones unrelated to the survival of the species, be affecting the aging process as well?

If you’ve ever seen someone who lives with chronic stress, you can see it on their face; it is reflected in their furrowed brow, their dull skin and the crow’s feet around their eyes. They begin to look much older than their chronological age. According to a 2004 study by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel of the University of California, San Francisco, researchers are beginning to understand the correlation between stress and aging by studying telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. Chronic stress causes these telomeres to shrivel, which in turn causes cells to die, leading to rapid deterioration of the external features of the body. The result is wrinkled skin, weaker muscles, less visual acuity and decreased brain function, which we perceive as aging.

So how can we keep our telomeres nice and long, like an internal fountain of youth? Of course, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are a good start. To ensure healthy aging, we must care for the mind as well. Excess worry and anxiety work against our body’s natural state of balance. The three most common coping strategies used by people who reach the age of 100 are: acceptance, not worrying and taking things one day at a time. They make it sound so easy, don’t they?

What if there was a simple way each and every one of us — no matter what our chronological age — could let go of our worries, maintain our body’s precious balance and keep those telomeres from shortening prematurely? Through the ancient art of Jin Shin Jyutsu® (also known as “the art of longevity”), we each hold within ourselves the ability to restore the energy pathways in the body, resulting in a state of vibrancy and vitality. Jin Shin Jyutsu® is a touch therapy that can be administered by a practitioner or as self-help. The hands act as jumper cables to move energy along the pathways to health and harmony.

Mary Burmeister, the loving, nurturing woman who brought Jin Shin Jyutsu® to the United States over 50 years ago, spent years showing how simple touch can have incredible impact. The physio-philosophy of Jin Shin Jyutsu® teaches that, in addition to the 26 safety energy locks located throughout the body, each finger corresponds to an attitude — worry, fear, anger, grief and “trying to” (too hard) — which needs to be harmonized for optimal health. By gently holding each finger and waiting for the pulses to come into rhythm, we can restore balance to these attitudes.

If stress increases the body’s aging response, causing those telomeres to shrink and shrivel, perhaps harmonizing the attitude of worry could help us reverse those effects, thereby maintaining the length of our telomeres and allowing us to worry less and take one day at a time, just like those healthy centenarians. Aging should be about wisdom, peace of mind and happiness. Jin Shin Jyutsu® allows us to master the art of living in a state of awareness so we can do the things that make us feel rejuvenated, which in turn lowers our stress level, which leads to an improved quality of life.

Ultimately, we all need to take responsibility for identifying the stressors in our lives and finding the best way to deal with them. While we cannot solve all of the world’s problems in one day, we do all have the ability to find a few minutes each day to take some deep breaths, smile and hold our thumbs. If you commit to those few minutes every single day, your body and your telomeres will thank you for it. 

Gail Okray was inspired by her passion for the art of Jin Shin Jyutsu® to open Key Elements for Health. She has been a Jin Shin Jyutsu® physio-philosophy practitioner and self-empowerment instructor since 1998. Over the years, Gail has motivated hundreds of individuals to move toward a healthier and more vibrant life through this ancient art. She provides weekly self-help tips on her Facebook page, and offers several self-empowerment workshops each year. Gail loves to work with clients of all ages — babies, young people and adults. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please visit http://keyelementswi.com or call Gail at 920-366-1896.

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