Transform your wellbeing
Would you like to know the most precious wellness tool I have EVER come across? This simple tool has the capacity to transform your wellbeing, dissolve your stress and tension, boost your energy levels, restore an ailing immune system and help you feel more in control of your life and your health.
If I told you its not something expensive or unattainable or too good to be true would you be interested?
What is this amazing thing?
Well, speaking from my own experience, the most precious wellness tool I have ever come across is meditation. Meditation has given me the ability to:
- profoundly decrease my stress and tension levels,
- access states of deep relaxation and healing
- maintain a positive outlook on life
- get to know myself, making decisions easier and clearer
- keep in touch with what’s really important to me
Most people that come to Live Well with health concerns, whether they present as: physical tension and pain, chronic immune problems, depression and anxiety or digestive problems are in need of more relaxation and less stress. Stress is usually the number one culprit that prevents the body from being able to heal itself. With more quality research being done on meditation we are now understanding how meditation works and how it impacts positively on the body and mind. But first to a nagging question.
Can anyone learn to meditate?
One of the most common comments I hear in relation to meditation is “I can’t meditate, my mind is too busy, I can’t switch off.” However, a person with a busy mind is the perfect candidate for meditation! The mind before learning to meditate is like a puppy – constant seeking stimulation and interaction. Anyone who has trained a puppy knows it takes some time and patience – (and some puppies are naughtier than others!) – however with persistence puppies learn the basic skills needed.
When it comes to meditation the basic skill is to consciously be able to place your attention where you want it to be so that rather than our attention being scattered on multiple things at once we allow our attention to settle on just one thing – such as the breath for example.
Quietening the mind
Imaging your mind as a computer that has multiple programs running and each of those programs having multiple documents or files open. Focusing attention on just one program and just one file e.g. the breath, allows all the other programs and files to shut down. This placing attention on one simple thing is what is meant by ‘quietening the mind’. As you experience this quietening a lot of good things happen in your physiology. Your nervous system switches from its stress response or ‘fight or flight’ to a state of ‘rest and digest’, your blood pressure drops, your heart beats more slowly, your muscles relax, your breathing deepens and your cells receive more oxygen, your immune system perks up and your hormones normalise. You’ll find you sleep better and your energy levels will be more buoyant.
Is it all in the mind?
If that weren’t reason enough there are more subtle emotional responses as well. Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex - brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear. In other words, regular meditators were calmer and happier than before. (psychology journal)
Prevent as well as cure
Meditation can also help prevent disease by switching off harmful genetic tendencies and switching on beneficial ones. mind-body pioneer Dr. Herbert Benson discovered that meditation turns certain sets of genes on and off in people who practice them regularly. Benson says these genes are involved with controlling “how the body handles free radicals, inflammation processes, and cell death.”(harvard health)
Where Can I Learn Meditation?
There are many types of meditation with many traditions following a guru or a spiritual tradition of one kind or another such as Transcendental Meditation which for many people is a deal breaker. If you are drawn to practice meditation in one of these styles then that’s no doubt the right path for you. However many people I talk to about meditation are looking for a secular (non-religious) meditation approach and for them I recommend learning mindfulness meditation. I love the simplicity and ease of mindfulness meditation and not surprisingly it’s the style I recommend to people who ask me about meditation.