This is an excerpt taken from “Nurture Your Soul: The Importance of Self-Care for Caregivers” by Theresa Cloud Eagle Nelson.
Meditation is a fulfilling experience, and something that I have been doing for almost 30 years, and teaching for over 11 years. You can see why I am an advocate of it. It is a little known fact that Jesus the Christ practiced, among other things, meditation to connect with the Divine Creator when he was in physical form. Meditation is a discipline that will propel you forward in your growth exponentially. There are so many more benefits to this practice that I have witnessed. Health benefits are just the tip of the iceberg!
Though meditation is sometimes known as a holistic practice, and is usually recognized as a spiritual practice, it also has many health benefits. Meditation allows you to tap into your innate healing ability. It helps in post-operative healing, and it enhances the immune system. Meditation has been proven scientifically to combat stress and stress related disorders like high blood pressure, insomnia, and heart diseases.
Meditation increases exercise tolerance in heart patients. It is good for people with high blood pressure because it brings the blood pressure to normal. While stress normally increases muscle tension from the body’s response to an unpleasant trigger, meditation helps to decrease muscle tension, any pain really, due to tension, and headaches. It also increases serotonin production, which influences mood, and behavior. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, obesity, insomnia, and headaches.
Meditation is a practice that will help improve the luster of the body and general health. It will improve your concentration. It lowers oxygen consumption because your breath is being used more efficiently. According to a 2008 Report done by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), it is thought that some types of meditation might work by reducing activity in the sympathetic nervous system and increasing activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, some types of meditation decreases the heart rate and the breathing rate allowing you to be more relaxed. It also increases the blood flow due to the dilation of the blood vessels, another sign of the body being in a relaxed state.
Dr. Benson, a former researcher at Harvard Medical School, did a research study of the physiological effects of meditation. He discovered that there was a counter-balancing mechanism to the fight-or-flight response in most stress-inducing situations. As stress is induced by stimulation of the hypothalamus in the brain, relaxation can be achieved by countering this stimulation by stimulating some other areas of the brain. You can achieve a deeper level of relaxation by centering yourself when you feel a situation is moving you out of balance. This is achieved through the use of meditation, which leads to a state of deep rest.
To get into the habit of quieting the mind through meditation or some form of relaxation, begin setting aside 10 to 15 minutes a day. For purposes of meditating, it is best when you do it the same time each day. For a relaxation reprieve from stress encountered during the course of the day, you can incorporate the following techniques (shared in the book). You will be pleasantly surprised at how much clearer your thoughts are, and how much better you feel at the end this time.