Meditation is a very effective remedy for stress relief. When we feel stressed or anxious, our brainwave pattern changes, our heart rate and blood pressure rise, our breath is more shallow and our muscles tense up. Our body goes into 'fight or flight' and pumps adrenalin and other hormones into our bloodstream.
In past times, this type of response was crucial to survival and the sudden burst of physical activity that followed, allowed our bodies to return to normal when the threat was over.
Now our stressors cause the same response but are not vital to our survival and usually don’t involve physical activity e.g. deadlines at work, family conflicts, passing exams, the harbouring of unresolved emotions and generally trying to keep up with a faster pace of life. Over time, without a way to release, the stress continues to build up and begins to affect our health.
How Can Meditation Help?
In our normal waking state, our brain is in the high frequency beta wave state. When we meditate, our brainwaves slow down to the alpha state and, in this state; we produce neurochemicals, which calm the body. This leads to the following physical benefits:
§ Slower heart rate and lower blood pressure
§ More efficient breathing
§ More relaxed muscles
§ Improved circulation and oxygenation
Regular meditators also generally will experience:
§ A reduction in other stress-related symptoms such as fatigue
§ An improvement in any stress-induced dis-ease
§ An improvement in sleeping
§ A stronger immune system
§ Pain becomes more manageable
§ Greater energy and vitality
Meditation also has very beneficial effects on the body's various chemicals, such as:
§ A reduction in the levels of the stress-related hormones adrenalin and cortisol
§ The level of lactic acid in the body is reduced (long-term stress can create an excess store of lactic acid in the muscles, which can be harmful)
§ An increase in endorphin levels, the 'feel good' chemical
§ An increase in melatonin levels, the hormone associated with restful sleep
§ An increase in the level of DHEA, which is like a source ingredient to many hormones the body needs (low levels of DHEA make us more susceptible to aging, disease and stress)
The Mental Benefits of Meditation
Regular meditation has some very positive effects on our mental abilities. It has been shown that consistent meditators can expect to experience the following:
§ Greater ability to remain focused and attentive
§ Enhanced learning ability, by increasing concentration and information retention
§ Greater problem-solving ability
§ An improvement in memory
§ More desire to learn
You also become more aware of the thoughts that run through your mind throughout the day, and you can then choose to think more consciously, rather than on auto-pilot. You can begin to choose your thoughts and make them positive, rather than negative.
Your mind-chatter begins to slow, even when you're not meditating, allowing you to stay more focused on the present moment.
The Emotional Benefits of Meditation
When we meditate, we are entering a different level of awareness. We begin to dip into our subconscious mind during the meditation process, and all that resides there begins to come into our awareness.
Emotions that we have been repressing, denying or unaware of may 'come to the surface'. You may begin to experience certain emotions, but not know why. This is the process of your body bringing these emotions to your awareness to allow them to be acknowledged and then released.
It is very important that you do not resist or suppress any feelings that you may have, or you will not allow them to flow through you and dissipate. Just observe them, accept their presence and know that they will eventually go.
So, meditating provides us with the following emotional benefits:
§ An increase in our ability to cope with various situations
§ A safe way to effectively release the withheld emotions that have been affecting our behaviour and our health
§ More awareness of our emotions, and the ability to choose to let them move though us, rather than get caught up in them
§ More awareness of our behavioural patterns and the emotions that these create
§ As stated under mental benefits, we become more aware of our thoughts, and our thoughts lead to emotions
§ If you are receiving professional help for any psychological problems, meditation would be a great compliment to your healing journey to enhance your progress
The Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
People who meditate on a regular basis will experience less mental chatter. When we begin to experience these quiet moments, we allow ourselves access to our Higher Selves, or our higher levels of consciousness.
Once we begin to be more still, and live in the present moment, we will naturally begin to feel more connected to the oneness of the Universe, and our intuitive abilities will be enhanced.
We begin to live in a more conscious state. We become the observers and creators of our lives. We begin to witness our own behaviours, rather than react to circumstances with great drama.
Consistent meditation will open you up to the intelligent energy that pervades the universe and little by little, your inner peace will begin to unfold.
So with all of the incredible benefits of meditation, why not get started today?
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