Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is becoming a popular practice in our modern age, due to its many benefits. The reasoning behind meditation is how it makes you feel and the quality of life it can provide. The science behind meditation is how it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, keeping your body calm and balanced. The world we have created is full of chaos, stress, and constant stimulus and our body has a natural way of dealing with these issues.
Let's take a closer look at our nervous system to understand the science behind stress, illness and relaxation. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are responsible for our involuntary bodily functions such as our heart beat, breathing, and digestion. The sympathetic nervous system also known as "fight or flight" has evolved in humans since we were hunter and gatherers. When faced with dangers or under serious threat, the sympathetic nervous system activates. It pumps adrenaline and cortisol, increasing our breathing and blood flow, and inhibits our digestion in order to prepare our body for physical and mental activity to escape or deal with dangerous situations, as well as prepares us for competitive sports activities.
The problem today, is that life challenges us with constant stress and stimulus which activates our sympathetic nervous system too much. When adrenaline and cortisol are being constantly pumped into our system, our body and it's organs become inflammed. With chronic inflammation, the immune response never shuts off, which is draining to the body and can result in sickness and disease. Such stress related diseases and sickness include heart disease, intestinal problems, ulcers, depression, chronic pain, colds, weight gain and sleep dysfunction.
Luckily, our bodies have a natural way of calming ourselves down and bringing balance back to our systems. This is the parasympathetic nervous system also known as "rest and digest". It is responsible for slowing down our heart rate, increasing intestinal and gland activity, relaxing muscles and stimulating digestion. It is important for us to live more in the parasympathetic nervous system, than the sympathetic nervous system to keep ourselves healthy and happy.
Meditation is one of several ways to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Have you ever noticed yourself sighing a deep exhale in a stressful situation? Well this is your body stimulating the relaxation response and activating the parasympathetic nervous system. In meditation one focuses on regulating the breathe, with deep and gentle inhales and exhales. This allows your muscles, thoughts and emotions to relax. Meditation also brings the mind and awareness to the present moment allowing one to feel bodily sensations, sounds, and feelings. Our sympathetic nervous system is triggered constantly by our thoughts. How am I going to meet this deadline? How will I pay my bills? Why is that person cutting me off in traffic? Why is that person making me feel that way? What if I don't pass this test? The list goes on and on. The thoughts that create fear and anxiety in us, can be released by focusing our attention on the present moment.
By practicing meditation on a daily basis, one will learn how to deal with challenges and stressful situations without stimulating the sympathetic nervous and thus creating a more vibrant, peaceful and happy life. Take each moment in. Worry not about the past or the future. Surrender to the flow, just like the clouds on a mountain top.
By practicing meditation on a daily basis, one will learn how to deal with challenges and stressful situations without stimulating the sympathetic nervous and thus creating a more vibrant, peaceful and happy life.