Natural Stress Relief (NSR) is a new form of meditation that is self-learned from a CD and a printed manual. NSR is also the organization that distributes this learning material. Besides the availability of anecdote (including a variety of different case histories), published research has validated the effectiveness of NSR in replicated studies using STAI Form Y and other psychological inventories.
The NSR TechniqueEdit
NSR is a simple mental technique practiced twice a day for 15 minutes each time. It is practiced while sitting in a comfortable chair with the eyes closed. Details of the practice are discussed under Transcending below. The results of the practice are discussed under Benefits below.
Everyone reacts to life situations (stressors) differently. One person may be traumatized by the same situation that merely poses an interesting challenge to another. We define stress as an abnormality stored in the nervous system that prevents its full functioning. 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.
A remarkable feature of the human nervous system is that it can repair or eliminate 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.
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.
Since we have many thoughts during the day, of various subjects and usefulness, it is possible that the source of thought (pure consciousness) would have the characteristics of unboundedness, creativity, and intelligence. This is indeed what we find when we allow the transcending process to reach completion. We experience 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 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.
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 (Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and Personality. First Edition. New York: Harper)(Maslow, A. (1971). The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: Viking Press)..
- Satisfaction with life. NSR improves overall satisfaction with life through improving productivity and developing self-actualization.
The physiological effects of transcending have been observed through Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), brain wave changes (EEG), and several types of psychological inventories (STAI and SISA) that demonstrate a dramatic reduction in anxiety and the growth of self-actualization.
It is also likely that many of the 200+ peer-reviewed published papers documenting the beneficial effects of Transcendental Meditation® also apply to NSR Meditation, since our research suggests that NSR provides the same natural state of restful alertness (transcending).
Practitioners of NSR Meditation report the benefits listed above, along with many more. Even from the first session, students experience transcending, the enjoyable process that leads to a deep state of restful alertness. As they continue practicing NSR Meditation every day, they tend to experience more benefits in their daily lives.
How NSR is LearnedEdit
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 used 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 (versions in Italian and Portuguese are also available) and the ability to follow simple instructions. Anyone who is at least 14 years old can learn.
Background and HistoryEdit
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. More about TM® is available on the Web and here on this wiki.
Unfortunately, TM® has developed several aspects that prevent many people from being able to learn. Its course fee has become prohibitively high ($1,500 in the USA, adults), and it includes nonessential elements that many find to be religious or mystical, and therefore objectionable to some people. The need for an alternative was clear, and 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.
Natural Stress Relief/USAEdit
In 2006 David Spector, a former TM teacher, was inspired to help. David founded Natural Stress Relief, Inc., an independent nonprofit corporation, to produce and distribute the NSR learning materials in hardcopy throughout the world in cooperation with Istituto Scientia, and to provide email and voice support. Since 2006 over two thousand individuals have learned NSR Meditation through NSR Meditation/USA.