The saying that stress is a silent killer is not an understatement, especially in modern times. You only have to watch the news to see the number of recent suicides as a result of stressful situations where the person feels they have no solution other than to end their life. If you observe those around you and yourself, you may witness some symptoms synonymous with stress. These can range from emotional and behavioural elements such as constant worrying, anxiety and irritability to impacts on their health like frequent colds, nausea and headaches.
Stress can be brought up in a number of ways. Commonly the reasons are major life changes, issues with work, money worries or family problems. Everyone is bound to sometimes feel stressed at times. Its part of the human experience to face difficulties and there are many ways that we cope. Some smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol to deal with stressful situations. Some turn to drugs and feel that regulates their stress level.
Meditation: what’s in it for you.
Meditation, a practice that has stood the test of time has proven to be the most revered ways to deal with challenges we face in life. Historically, meditation has been aligned to Buddhism and Hinduism but it has recently become popular in the west due its wide ranging benefits.
In short, meditation is a tool to clear the mind. It is used to build emotional strength and enables you to deal with stress by providing you with a sense of peace of mind and an awareness and sense of self that benefits not only your well-being but overall health.
Research suggests that meditation can improve certain medical conditions, like high blood pressure and has lowered the risk of heart disease. It also improves your condition when facing illnesses brought on by stress by alleviating insomnia, anxiety and depression.
During meditation blood flow increases and heart rate slows normalising your heart rate. This lowers your blood pressure and reduces your oxygen consumption. This enhances your immune system, increases focus and concentration. It also boosts energy and strength and decreases the activity of viruses by helping to control thought patterns conducive to increasing stress levels.
Sitting in a meditative state of silence and concentration enables peace of mind and the ability to see the bigger picture by stepping away from the emotion of a situation and simply be. Equally as important it increases compassion, not only for yourself but others. Whilst meditating, the realisation can be that the things that stress us can only be effectively dealt with and resolved when the mind is still and thoughts are positive, allowing space for solutions.
Meditation is the medication
The most well-known form meditation is mindful meditation. This is when, sitting in a comfortable position you are silently witnessing sensations and activities around you without getting too involved. Being new to meditation, it can seem like you’re not doing it “properly” as thoughts inevitably enter your mind. The trick to this is to witness the thoughts and let them come and go as your inhales and exhales do. Another type of meditation is mantra meditation when you loudly chant words. The sounds and energy the repeated words generate are usually where you focus your meditation. An example of this is Om, which provides a deep vibration and increases concentration in the mind.
With 2013 upon us, so does the common expectation of making new years resolutions (and sticking with them). These can often be to get healthy and give up bad habits. Taking up meditation is a way to ensure positive mental health and manage your stress, ensuring you have a happy and a new year full of ease.
“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Baba Ram Dass