Stress surrounds us everyday. From work, school, home life, and just day to day, it can be a lot. While people are usually able to cope with stress, sometimes the burden simply becomes too much that people break down because of it. We are often left wondering how we can cope with all of these stressors. Sometimes a simple act like meditation can be what saves you from a breakdown. How does meditation work and can it be an effective solution for you? Let’s take a look at the science behind meditation to see.
The Science of Stress and Meditation
In the General Adaptation Syndrome model designed by Hans Selye, there are three stages that people undergo when stressed. During the first stage, the body goes on a state of alarm at the realization of a threat. In this stage, cortisol is released by the body. The second stage is where the body becomes unable to cope with the strain until its resources are depleted. Finally, the body breaks down, which includes the exhaustion of the immune system. Because of this, the body is unable to fight off sicknesses which then expose the person to illnesses.
Meditation is one method which can help reduce the stress levels of a person. By calming the mind and giving the person a sense of control over things, the things that are considered threats (the things which cause stress) become easier to manage. But the reduction of stress isn’t the end of the exercise. Since stress can make people prone to illnesses, reducing stress can help in keeping the person healthy. The practice of meditation, therefore, can result in improved health and resistance to illnesses.
So the next time you feel stressed out, try to calm yourself down by practicing meditation. While your problems won’t exactly go away, you at least become mentally prepared to face them.
Meditation To Improve Health
According to Buddhism, a person can reach Nirvana or the highest state of enlightenment through continuous meditation and by participating in the Buddha’s daily service, among other things. Over time, many people have benefited from the practice of meditation.
Meditation, as practiced by Buddhist monks and practitioners, has become a spiritual tool and health enhancer. More than just the chants and meditative posture, meditation is about proper breathing and concentration of one’s thoughts. As a health and spiritual practice, meditation came into prominence centuries ago.
How do we know if we are already in a state of meditation or just wasting away time with our eyes closed? Meditation is a state of mind that leads to inner peace, self-fulfillment, self- improvement, and the development of a positive outlook in life. There are two types of meditation; the concentrative and the mindfulness type. Concentrative is focused on the person’s concentration, sitting quietly and calmly with good breathing patterns. It is said that one’s mind is somewhat connected to one’s breath of air. Continuous rhythm of inhales and exhales of the breath will make the person feel more calm and relaxed, focusing on the steady flow of air in and out of their bodies. This will result in the mind being more aware and tranquil at the same time.
Mindfulness, on the other hand, involves attention and awareness on passing waves of sensations, images, feelings, thoughts, sounds, smell, anything that your body can interact with. This in turn will give the person a more non-reactive mind state, much like looking at a television, without any feeling or thoughts that can bother you.
Meditation and relaxation often go hand in hand. In scientific studies, it has been proven that there are health benefits in regularly practicing meditation. By being in a relaxed state of mind, the person is also regarded as being in an alpha state, which is a level of consciousness that promotes good healing. Since people are constantly moving, being in a state of relaxation and stillness can enhance our overall well-being. Knowing all this, one can see the connection of both scientific and spiritual factors that are brought together by meditation.
Indeed, this activity shows a unique philosophy that can really help. In practicing meditation, a person can see their innermost self at its fullest. This can help a person dealing with external difficulties to see past all the challenges and become more humble and calm in dealing with situations. This relaxed state of meditating can also help take away simple headaches, stress, or even mild anxiety. There are no known ways that meditation can be harmful, so why not give it a try?
Meditation: A Path To Inner Peace
Throughout history, meditation has been an integral part of many cultures. Records indicate that meditation was practiced in ancient Greece and India more than 5,000 years ago. In the Buddhist religion, meditation is an important part of their spiritual practice. Different forms of meditation are practiced in China and Japan, and Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have traditions similar to meditation. The word meditation comes from the Latin meditari which means: exercise, turn something over in one’s mind, think, consider. It is defined as consciously directing your attention to alter your state of mind.
Meditation is one of the proven alternative therapies that in recent years have been classified under mind-body medicine therapies. It is continuing to gain popularity, as more and more health experts believe that there is more to the connection between mind and body than modern medicine can explain. According to researchers, meditation has been shown to aid the immune system and improve brain activity. More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way to lower blood pressure, to improve exercise performance, to help people with asthma to breathe easier, to relieve insomnia, and generally relax everyday stresses of life. Many hospitals now offer meditation classes for their patients because of the health benefits. All promote physiological health and well-being.
Traditionally, meditation has been used for spiritual growth, but more recently has become a valuable tool for managing stress and finding a place of peace, relaxation, and tranquility in a demanding fast-paced world. Benefits resulting from meditation include: physical and emotional healing; easing stress, fear, and grief; improved breathing; developing intuition; deep relaxation; exploring higher realities; finding inner guidance; unlocking creativity; manifesting change; emotional cleansing and balancing; and deepening concentration and insight.
Meditation elicits many descriptive terms: stillness, silence, tranquility, peace, quiet, and calm. All counter stress and tension. Lama Surya Das in his book Awakening The Buddha Within says, Meditation is not just something to do; it’s a method of being and seeing an unconditional way of living moment by moment. In other words, learning to live in this moment because this moment is all we have. Henry Winkler is quoted as saying; A human being’s first responsibility is to shake hands with herself. Meditation is an opportunity to shake hands with ourselves in a safe, simple way and to balance our emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Meditation in Daily Practice
Whether you are looking for ways to manage your stress or a deeper spirtual connection, meditation is a good path to start on. Learning breathing techniques and how to manage our train of thought are invaluable in your day to day life. They can teach you how to manage those emotions that seem to pop up out of nowhere and make sure they do not control your interactions. Do you already meditate? If so, let me know below when you began and how it helps in your day to day routine.