Did you know the number one cause of illness is stress? Ask anyone (or yourself) that has recently come down with an illness if they were stressed before they got ill and the majority of answers will be yes.
Because excessive stress (some stress is good for us) causes the body to respond producing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol levels have been linked to a higher incidence of cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Stress affects our digestion, immune system and slows wound healing. It also reduces the quality of our sleep and messes with our appetite. In short, chronic stress eventually leads to chronic health issues, whether that's in your body, finances, relationships or general life.
But there is an antidote.
Meditation is the practice of single point focus. By choosing to focus on thing at any time, our mind is able to slow down and relax. When our mind relaxes, our body relaxes. When our body relaxes, it can instead get on with vital repair works to keep our selves in a healthy range.
Research shows that meditation has a range of beneficial impacts on our health. One study showed that as little as 5 sessions of meditation coaching reduced the levels of cortisol in the body and the associated symptoms of fatigue, depression and anxiety; and increased workplace skills such as resilience, conflict resolution and assertiveness. Another study looked at the impact of meditation on pain levels. Brain scans show that meditation affects the regions of the brain responsible for self-control and those that pass pain messages to the brain, creating a 24% reduction in people's experience of pain and a 44% reduction in the emotional intensity of the pain. A third study found that meditation increases the enzyme responsible for protecting DNA. A reduction in this enzyme causes a more rapid aging of the cell, whereas those that meditated showed no reduction at all. So if you want to keep your youthful good looks, find your inner zen!
Simple meditation technique
Meditation is easy to do once you get the hang of it. Described as a 'meditation practice', meditation is an opportunity to learn and develop a new skill even if at first it isn't easy. Just a few minutes doing the exercise below will make a difference to your body and mind, with the longer you spend resulting in the greater the benefit.
Here are some simple instructions.
Get comfortable, and if you feel safe to do so, close your eyes.
Put your awareness on your inner peace. Underneath all the worry and stress it is possible to discover a sense of calm if we let ourselves.
Become aware it exists even if you are not always putting your attention on it.
Stay connected to that direct experience of peace/calm for as long as you can.
If you find your mind wanders or you become distracted, simply bring it back to being aware of your inner peace.
Gently hang out in that space.
Continue the exercise with your eyes open throughout the day, whenever you remember.
Once you have mastered the art of connecting to your inner peace/calm my suggestion would be complete 10 minutes (minimum) twice a day. Ideally this would be first thing in the morning, and again before bed at night to improve the quality of your rest.
Like what you read? The 6 week Meditation For Health course started this week. Sign up to watch the replay of week 1 and join us live from Monday to learn more about how we can meditate to benefit our body, mind and soul and the common mind-based causes of health issues.
Any questions, please reach out, I am here to help!