In today's world of high-stress jobs and busy lives, meditation might seem like an outdated practice. With thousands of years of human history behind it, meditation has remained a part of most cultures. It often seems that cultures lacking the skills required to meditate are the most damaged by disease. Regular exercise including meditation leads to a healthy mind and body.
Because the human body is designed to run or fight when exposed to stress, we are often in a state of anxiety. We have moved out of the caves and built homes for ourselves, but those ancient instincts of flight or fight are still within us. Unfortunately, these instincts that served us well thousands of years ago, are causing untold damage to our bodies today. Without the relief that comes with ending a stressful situation by running away or fighting, the human body carries stress instead of expelling it. Meditation and exercise are fabulous ways to lift the stress out of your body and allow yourself to find peace.
In the same way that exercise strengthens and relaxes the body, meditation strengthens and relaxes the mind. Using meditation is again similar to exercise in that the more you meditate, the better your mind becomes at solving problems like coping with stress. Meditation has been shown to provide relaxation and stress-relief similar to medication when correctly applied to stressful situations. The problem with meditation is that, like exercising, many people claim to have little time meditate. A person who is trained in proper meditation techniques is armed with a tool that provides immediate slowing of heart rate and lowering of blood pressure. This calms the body while allowing the mind to focus on the stresses that are overwhelming it.
The practice of meditation creates a body that ages more slowly than the average body. The lowering of blood pressure and heart rate adds to physical longevity. Meditation also corrects the cortisol levels within the body. This hormone is responsible for feelings of anxiety and pressure. A lower level of cortisol along with a lower heart rate is the outcome for immediate meditation during a stressful event. Once you become adept at using meditation for stressful situations, it actually improves the way your body deals with chronic stress. Because you have control over immediate stress, your body is less likely to react strongly to new stressful events.
True meditation allows the mind to enter a state called an "alpha" state. This is similar to the state of mind experienced when sleeping deeply. During this alpha state, the mind is able to reset itself and approach problems from new angles. Similar to having a really good nap, ten minutes of meditation will refresh the mind. It increases wakefulness while relieving the stress of everyday life. Taking ten minutes to meditate during an eventful day can stop your body from reacting negatively to the stress. Meditation is a useful addition to any lifestyle as it can ease the negative impact of life’s stressors.