We may associate meditating with folding into a pretzel, sitting with our legs crossed or in Lotus position and touching our thumbs to our index fingers. This is the western perception of a meditating person. And although in a lot of cases this is the posture adapted to meditate by many meditators, it really doesn’t matter how we sit, lay, or even walk while meditating. The focus truly is to still our minds, not to look cool being pretzeled up. Meditating for the doshas specifically can take your practice to a whole new level!
Meditate, don’t medicate!
There are so many physical and psychological benefits to mediation than truly, an article wouldn’t be enough to list all of them. I will give examples of some of the most profound benefits of deep relaxation and meditation on our health:
1. Calmness and resilience of the mind
It is in our human nature to have a monkey mind. Unless we practice focus and mind control, our minds are literally monkeying around, jumping from one thing to the next in a matter of split seconds. Meditation is one of the main tools to still the monkey mind, mainly by not paying attention to our thoughts, letting them come and go without getting attached to one trail of thought.
Eventually the mind will give up, the monkeying will stop, and we will reach a place of deep relaxation without the mind wandering aimlessly. This calmness after the initial storm is achieved by observing the thoughts as they come and go and not engaging with them. It is safe to say that all meditators know the monkey mind and have dealt with it on one occasion or the other. Once meditation becomes a regular practice, the thought waves will in fact seize to run wild.
2. Balanced emotions
Having control over our mental activity has as a direct result more control over our emotional state. With a mind that is calm through deep relaxation and meditation, we are less likely to live in the past or in the future. Living in the past creates depression, it is closely connected to Kapha. Living in the future creates anxiety, closely related to Vata.
Emotions are ultimately caused by the ego. We often find ourselves reactive when buttons are pushed or when something we have no control over happens. It is okay to feel sad, or angry, or upset, or happy, as long as the emotion doesn’t take hold of and run away with us. Meditation helps to access our consciousness on a deep level and makes us less reactive and neurotic.
3. Hormonal balance
When we are stressed our body pumps cortisol into our system. Our adrenal glands are in overdrive to provide adrenal hormones, mainly adrenalin (epinephrine) and cortisol so we can run or fight, the ‘fight or flight’ response. Cortisol is the hormone that can make us gain weight and store fat around the midsection. Even physical stress, say 30 minutes of cardio training, will elevate the cortisol levels in our blood. Finding a way to relax and counteract psychological and physical stress is key to not only a calmer mind but also weight management.
A regular mediation practice can be helpful to not just relieve stress in the moment, but also create long-term effects on our adrenal system that will ultimately result in a less reactive stress response. We turn down the stress triggers and with that turn down the output of cortisol and adrenaline.
4. Lower blood pressure
Making our body less reactive to stress hormones also has a positive effect on our blood pressure. Studies conducted at Harvard Medical School have shown that meditation has a similar effect on blood pressure as does blood pressure medication. Studies done in Great Britain have also shown that patients who practice deep relaxation and meditation have significantly lower blood pressure recordings then the non-meditating population.
5. Anti-inflammatory response
Recent studies have shown that stress is also linked to the body’s inflammatory response. Inflammation in the body has been linked to heart disease, skin conditions, asthma, diabetes, arthritis and other diseases. When we are stressed and in ‘fight or flight’ response, our body, by reflex, excretes stress hormones which will cause inflammatory processes in the body.
By training our mind through meditation to be less reactive, more in the moment, and less stressed, we can have an effect on these automatic responses.
Any of these is worth trying to incorporate meditation in your daily routine. I will give you some tips on how to do that in a later post and for now, whenever you feel an urge to take a pill for whatever’s bothering you, sit quietly, close your eyes, breathe and listen to your breath. Remain with yourself for as much as you can handle and maybe you won’t need that pill ever again.
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