Experiments: How to monitor and achieve Relaxation?

Modern society and lifestyles impose severe stresses on human beings, young and old from all walks of life. Medical researches had demonstrated with ample proofs that prolonged stresses, whether physical, mental or emotional, can adversely impact a person's health and well being.

To help us manage and reduce our stress levels, there have been numerous medical, psychological, physical, alternative medical, medicinal, dietary and even philosophical and spiritual methods, techniques and schools that purportedly can help us reduce stress levels and help us achieve sustained peace, joy and well-being. It is generally accepted and agreed that, whatever the technique employed, the more relaxed a person can achieve physically and mentally, the more peace, joy and physical, mental and spiritual well being one can achieve. The difficult question for most of us, among these endless choices, is which one is most suitable for oneself? and if the one currently in use is effective for oneself? Most of us rely on our "feelings" for these questions, but we often wonder can we always trust our feelings? Are there more objective ways to assess stress levels?

With simple bio-sensor kit, we do have means to help us assess our stress levels, and with suitable planning, to assess the effectiveness of any particular method on oneself. The basic principle is quite simple: stresses manifest at physical (muscle tension) and mental (brain activity) levels. By measuring muscle activities (EMG) and brain activities (EEG) directly, we can get good indications on whether we have achieved relaxation. Any facial muscle that's not totally relaxed, will contribute to a small but detectible EMG signal signatures that are quite distinguishable from brain activities (if the bio-sensor has sufficient bandwidth and sensitivity to cover at least the 100~200Hz band.) Either through tightening-relaxation routines, or mental focus, each and every facial/head muscle can be relaxed totally, and there will be negligible EMG signal. If and after all muscles are relaxed, one can now start mental exercises (such as watching the breathing, chanting mantra silently, or other techniques) to relieve and stop all thoughts and mental processes, and progressively reduce the super-beta wave, the beta wave, and to possibly heighten the alpha wave, then even slow down alpha wave into theta wave or even delta wave regime, generally associated with very deep relaxation levels.

The many, many methods, techniques and doctrines are way outside the scope of this experiment, and you are certainly free to try your preferred method to do this experiment.

Experiment: 1. Connect bio-sensor on the forehead, which measures EMG and EEG simultaneously, and start recording initial baseline while in stable, static posture.

2. Do your favored relaxation routines, whether exercises, stretching, yoga, audio/video programme or meditation, keep recording throughout, tag the beginning, the end and stages of interest.

3. Resume the original stable, static posture, and keep recording for a reasonable time duration.

4. Compare the before and after recordings, and see if both the muscle activity and brain activity can achieve "quieter" states.