A friend of mine has got me interested in using gadgets to help measure progress in things like zhan zhuang, qigong, meditation, and thereby help one get better faster (sort of oxymoronic to the idea of “letting go” but what the heck, it’s the 21st century). I read these two tips in a Dummies book on Stress for biofeedback on the cheap (free, assuming you have a clock or timer).

1. take your pulse over 60 seconds.
2. count your breaths over 60 seconds.

Now, when I try #2, I immediately seem to slow down my breathing. That is sort of cheating on the test, but I’m not sure I’m able to give myself an honest assessment. I’ll keep trying. Even your HR is easy to slow down without any kind of advanced yogic abilities. In a college psychology class once, my instructor conducted an experiment on the class. Presumably none of us had advanced yogic abilities. We were all able to reduce our HR easily. Then, we were all able to increase our HR easily as well. People just used their imagination, and the body responded to that “mind control”. I’ll probably buy some device to make this all easier. My friend is planning to construct his own, but I don’t have that kind of engineering ability or motivation.

Anyway, ideally, both measures will be dropping gradually over time.