MEDITATION - RELIEF FROM YOUR STRESS
There are two kinds of deep rest. The first is restful sleep in which both the body and the mind are at rest and we have very little awareness. The second is restful awareness, a state where the body is in deep rest, but the mind is still alert. The best way to achieve the state of restful awareness and its benefits is through the daily practice of Meditation. Meditation releases stress, enhances creativity, and enlivens the natural healing and rejuvenating systems in our bodies.
What is stress?
We experience stress anytime we encounter an obstacle to the fulfillment of our needs or desires. Stress triggers the most primitive part of our involuntary nervous system and our body responds with what is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. The “fight or flight” response was first described by an early 20th century American scientist by the name of Walter Cannon. The original purpose of the fight-or-flight response was to help us survive in threatening situations, and occasionally it still serves that purpose if we happen to encounter a life threatening situation.
However, more often than not when we have stress in our daily lives it triggers an “inappropriate” fight or flight response. When this happens and we do not have a way to release this stress then eventually stress will accumulate in our body and can lower our immunity and cause disease. Some of the results of experiencing prolonged or accumulated stress are accumulated toxins, elevated blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cancer, stomach ulcers, insomnia, anxiety and depression.
What are the physiological responses of the fight or flight response?
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Breathing becomes shallow and rapid
Blood platelets become more sticky
Increased production of hormones by the adrenal glands: adrenaline, cortisol and glucagon.
Decrease in the production of HGH (growth hormone), insulin and sex hormones
Your immune system is suppressed
What is “restful awareness” The state of “restful awareness or meditation produces physiological responses that are exactly the opposite of the fight or flight response. This is why meditation is often referred to as “the antidote to stress”. What are the physiological responses during meditation?
Decreased heart rate
Blood pressure becomes normal
Breathing slows and becomes more efficient
You perspire less
Your adrenal glands produce less hormones adrenaline, glucagon, and cortisol (known as the “stress hormone”)
Your pituitary gland produces more grown hormone (HGH is known as the “anti-aging hormone), and you produce more sex hormones
Strengthened immune system.
Practicing meditation will affect your health in the following ways: Meditation provides a way to release stress and eliminate toxins. When the mind settles down in a state of restful awareness, the body also settles and gets a deep level of rest. Rest is nature’s way of restoring and rejuvenating the body and enlivening the body’s own self-healing systems. Meditation is no longer just for ex-hippies; its benefits have been well-established and accepted by the medical community. Meditation is for the mainstream world looking for tools to experience more health, well-being and balance in their lives.
How Do I Begin Meditation?
Most people who try meditation on their own ask the question, “Am I doing it right?” Following are some simple instructions to get you started with an effective meditation practice. Remember, everyone is different, and there is no “right” experience. Meditation is not an experience of “trying” but one of “letting go”. Whatever comes up for you will be the most appropriate experience for you and your physiology at that particular time.
You should not compare your experiences in meditation with that of anyone else, nor should you have any particular expectation of what you will experience during meditation. Meditation is a process of letting go and observing without judgment. Rest easy, you cannot do meditation “wrong”, and the benefits may be immediate or cumulative. Stay with your practice and you are sure to get the benefits!
Find a Quiet Place
Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably and will not be disturbed. Turn the phone off and put your pets in another room. If you sitting are in a chair uncross your arms and legs. Gently close your eyes and begin observing your breath as it gently flows in and out of your body. Do not attempt to change your breath even though you may notice it may speed up or slow down.
As you begin to quiet down, observe your body. Beginning at the top of your head and moving down, see what you notice. Don’t judge anything, but only see what you notice. Soften your eyes and relax your jaw, if you notice any place in your body that feels tight or is holding onto tension, have the awareness and intention of sending your breath there and let it go on your next exhale. This process of quieting down may take just a few minutes as your body and mind settle into the meditation.
You may then continue your meditation by continuing to focus on your breath . If you notice your mind has drifted away from your breath, gently return your attention to your breath. It is natural for thoughts to come up. Gently observe them without judging them in any way, let them go and return your attention to your breath.
As your body relaxes and your thoughts slow down, notice there is a space between your thoughts. Allow your mind to be in that space, the gap between your thoughts. When a thought comes up, gently observe it, let it go and return your awareness to your breath. When it is time for you to end your meditation, simply sit quietly, continuing with your eyes closed for another 2-3 minutes. Open your eyes slowly when you are ready. Always take a few minutes to sit easily at the end of meditation before resuming activity.
How often should you meditate?
To get the most benefits from meditation it is recommended that you meditate twice each day, in the morning and in the evening for 10-30 minutes per session. You should not judge the results of your meditation by the quality of your meditation experience, but by the quality of your experiences outside of meditation. You may notice these benefits immediately or it may take some time. It is not unusual for the people around you to notice subtle changes before you do. Don’t have any particular expectation of having any particular experience in meditation. Every meditation is different.
What will I experience during Meditation?
You may ask what you may experience during meditation. There are a variety of experiences you may have during meditation. You may fall asleep if your body is tired. You may experience a lot of thoughts and restlessness during meditation. You may slip into the place between your thoughts into a place of peace and silence. Whatever experiences you have during meditation are the ones that are right for your physiology at that particular time. It is for this reason that we never judge any particular meditation as being a “good” or “bad” meditation. Trust the process and stay with it. From the first time you meditate your benefits will start to grow. If you meditate regularly you will accumulate the benefits at whatever speed and rate is appropriate for you. The benefits you will gain from meditation in your daily life will occur naturally and easily with no additional effort on your part. Just make time for your daily meditation practice and stay with the process.