Traditional forms of medicine from China, Japan, Indian, and many First Nations groups, have always had a place for meditation, as a constant in their lives, although North Americans are just touching the tip of the iceberg with the information and just how meditation can be the best recipe for healthy living.
Meditation has received recognition for being beneficial for psychological issues for many years, and is now recommended for conditions such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, inability to "focus" and "mental fog." Some therapists are even using it for conditions such as cancer, HIV, and cardiovascular disease. Just how does this work?
We have two autonomic nervous systems; one is the "sympathetic", where we go when we are really stressed out, and our blood vessels get constricted, pumping blood to all the extremities so the muscles can work faster and harder; this is know as the "fight or flight" response.
Our respiration and heart rate tend to overwork themselves, and it appears that most of us live in a state of stress; therefore, a fair amount of our time is spent in the sympathetic mode, which is not a good thing.
The other part of our nervous system is our "parasympathetic" nervous system, know as our "digest and rest" response, at which time, our body is allowing the blood vessels to dilate; therefore allowing our circulation improve throughout the body, and more specifically, to our organs and digestive system.
Unfortunately, when we are in the "fight or flight mode",which is most of the time, our immune system does not function well. One stress simply compounds another, and no end appears in sight. In addition, we have careers, families, other interests that consume our days; just when do we have time to sit and think about nothing? We must commit ourselves to a healthy, easy, no cost practice like meditation, to keep our minds on the right track.
Meditation, by bringing someone out of a sympathetic state into a parasympathetic state, gives the immune system a break and a chance to recover from the "fight or flight" mode, allowing one's immune system a chance to recover before it becomes totally overwhelmed. Meditation allows our digestive system to perform naturally, and improves the air flow to our lungs, helps to balance our hormones, which means it has a good affect on PMS, menopause and fertility.
According to First Holistic, meditation lowers cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, reduces production of free radicals, which has been linked to many different illnesses and chronic conditions.
Kate Marchesiello, director of Kripaulu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachussets, who has been hired by many large corporations to bring meditation to the executives, told her new learners that they will find that if you begin to practice meditation for even 5 to 10 minutes a day, a lot of the chaos and calamity begins to settle. The body uses oxygen more efficiently, the blood pressure drops and at the end of the day, you have a more calm and still mind.
Walking in nature, sitting quietly, painting (art), singing can all be forms of meditation. Focus on what inspires you whether it be a piece of music, a reading from a book, or even dreaming of being on a beach where no one else is; total peace of mind. You can meditate anywhere, and the great thing about meditation for healthy living is that you do not need to put on a pair of tights or be in any special position. Just sit in a comfy position, close your eyes and breathe in and out, until you notice the sensation of the air coming in and out of your nose.
Make up a "mantra"; a simple sound, such as "um..um..um.." As you breathe in, mentally repeat the sound; relax and as you exhale, hear the words "let go. At first, you will think of all the things you have to do; then, as you repeat your mantra, breathe in; breath out, you will notice a release of the tension in the belly, jaws and forehead.
Start meditation slowly. Kate Marchesiello suggests that even the most enthusiastic beginner need only set aside 5 to 10 minutes per day, in the first few weeks. Once you meditate, you will eventually enjoy this mode of relaxation and you are much more likely to increase the time meditation.
Many people meditate in the morning, to start their day off right. Stretch in bed, take a few moments to practice your breathing. Once you are out of bed, start your meditation, with your eyes closed and practice your breathing and your mantra over and over. Once you practice your meditation, when you go for a walk, you will notice the beauty of nature; breath in the fresh air. This has to be the healthiest recipe for healthy living ever.