By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: August 29, 2007
If you had asked me 5 years ago whether I thought that meditation was an integral component of health and wellness I probably would have shrugged and perhaps even chuckled. Well, since then, I have learned that meditation, in particular its affect on stress reduction, is an integral part of heatlh and wellness and sexuality and should be incorporated into every woman’s daily routine.
Easier said than done you may say. Take it from me, a Type A, multi-tasking do-it-all woman who can’t sit still for 5 minutes, much less try to clear my mind and to still for 20 minutes.
I am going to convince you about the importance of incorporating meditation into your life and daily routine and give you some simple techniques as well as recommendations. I want to hear back from you after 6 weeks of doing this and hear your thoughts and experience. I guarantee you, and I say guarantee with all sincerity, you will see changes including improvements in mood, sleep, patience, concentration, energy as well as your libido.
Though meditation is usually recognized as a largely spiritual practice, it has many health benefits. You would be surprised how meditation techniques are not only being implemented into general medical health care but also in managing serious medical conditions and chronic diseases. Research studies have demonstrated that practicing meditation can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and has eliminated the need for medications in various chronic inflammatory conditions of the skin, irritable bowel, lupus as well as arthritis. It has also proven effective in managing symptoms of ADHD in both children and adults. The bottom line is, in my mind, it has a direct effect on stress reduction, which in turn decreases inflammation.
Everything bad that happens to us in life, health wise, is related to inflammation. Alzheimer’s disease is inflammation of nerve cells in the brain; Multiple sclerosis is inflammation of the peripheral nerves in our body, cardiovascular disease is inflammation of the small vessels of the heart, cancer is basically inflammation gone out of control. Believe it or not, depression is associated with high levels of inflammation, which generally correlate with high levels of stress. When there is inflammation in your body, cells either die at an increasing rate or burst and release more inflammatory mediators called oxygen free radicals. Meditation actually decreases inflammation levels in your body, which is one of the mechanisms by which it has healing effects on your body and mind.
Additionally, during meditation the brain waves actually change from the active alpha waves to the calming theta waves. Theta waves are associated with a feeling of calm as well as increased GABA secretion, which is a neuropeptite that causes feelings of relaxation. I’ve listed below some of the main effects of meditation that have been documented in the medical literature.
- It lowers oxygen consumption and decreases oxygen free radicals
- Decreases cortisol, the stress hormone
- It increases blood flow to the brain and increase brain chemicals such as GABA, Dopamine and Seratonin
- Increases exercise tolerance and sugar metabolism
- Helps with symptoms of PMS and PMDD
- Lowers blood pressure and brings high blood to normal.
- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of cortisol, norepinephrine and ephingrine the fight or flight hormones
- Decreases muscle tension (any pain due to tension) and headaches.
- Increases your immune system and alleviates symptoms of allergies by decreasing inflammation
- Improves wound healing following surgery
Effects of Stress on our Bodies
Normally, any life threatening situation triggers off the STRESS RESPONSE. In everyday life, any number of events can be triggers for stress, including work, children, our relationships, finances, family members, and many more. The stress response is designed to enable a person to act quickly and survive intense, short-term challenges, which require less brains and fast reflexes. This survival response is well suited if we are in a life threatening situation, however the same response is triggered in traffic jams, work related irritations, family squabbles and many such situations-.which results in our body preparing for a life-death situation. And then as these situations don’t come to an end, with a single confrontation, we remain in a perpetual state of stress. As such, our cortisol levels rise, which effects sugar metabolism and we gain weight. Our epinephrine and norepinephrine the fight or flight hormones, remain elevated and we become anxious and depressed and lose our interest in sex.
During stress, the heart beats faster and blood pressure rises. The blood flow is diverted from the internal organs to the muscles as well as the areas of the brain that control muscle coordination. As a result, the rain releases chemicals that help the body cope better with injuries, including those that block pain and help the blood clot faster and less of the feel good chemicals such as GABA dopamine and serotonin. All these symptoms lead to the feeling of being run down, tired, moody and basically stressed.
While meditation is not a magic bullet or quick fix, it is probably one of the most effective means for reducing if not eliminating stress in your life as well as the harmful effects that stress has on your body (not to mention your sex life). Meditation comes to the rescue in such a situation and induces RELAXATION RESPONSE. Meditation has a counter-balancing effect on the fight-or-flight response in most stress-inducing situations. Relaxation is achieved by countering the stress related activation in your brain. Meditation actual activates areas of the brain responsible for relaxation.
Unlike some medications, meditation has no potential side effects. People with physical limitations may find it easier to practice than strenuous physical exercise for stress relief, plus, no special equipment is required. Unlike enlisting the help of a professional, meditation is free. However, it does take discipline and commitment, so some people may find it more difficult to maintain as a habit than methods that enlist the help of someone or something outside themselves for added motivation. Also, some people may find it more difficult to free their minds of the thoughts of the day, and thus find it more difficult than methods like journaling that involve focusing on these events.
I hope that this has given you a brief insight as to the importance and health benefits of meditation. I urge all of you to start today, and as I mentioned earlier I want to hear back from you in 3-6 weeks. If you attempt to mediate daily, I GUARANTEE you will begin to notice dramatic differences in your life. I am speaking to you here professional as well as from my own personal experience. And as with anything good, it doesn’t come easy and does require time and effort in the beginning as well as commitment to make a change and improve your life, sexuality and health.
Beginners Guided Meditation Recording Suggestions:
- Inner Smile by Lilias Folan; (ASIN # B000009CO8) CD/Cassette, available at www.Amazon.com; Lilias Folan is a well-known yoga instructor. This recording has 3 tracks which include breathing and stretching, relaxation and deeper meditation that she calls the “inner smile”. Her style is simple and pleasant.
- The Soul of Healing Meditations by Dr. Deepak Chopra; (ASIN # B00005TZSK) CD, available at www.Amazon.com; Eight meditation tracks over 45 minutes. Very popular and instructional. Focused on relaxation and healing.
- Healing Meditation: Nourish Mind, Body and Spirit by Kelly Howell; (ASIN # 1881451674) CD/Cassette, available at Amazon; Sixty minutes divided into two thirty minute sessions. The first is a guided instructional meditation and the second is meditation music. Soothing instruction voice focused on healing. Great for beginners!
- Theta Meditation by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson; (ASIN # B00005BGUJ) CD/ Cassette, available at Amazon.com; Comprised of two tracks, Dr. Thompson’s work is deeply relaxing and hypnotic. There is no instruction on this recording but you naturally find yourself falling into a meditative state. Promotes Theta brainwaves which increase self-healing.
- Chakra Balancing: Body, Mind and Soul by Dr. Deepak Chopra; (ASIN# B000667GNW) CD, available at Amazon.com; Two disc set with 19 tracks. The first CD is meditation music only. The second is guided meditation with instruction. The music is soothing and helps with the meditation.
- Letting Go of Stress by Steve Halpern and Emmett Miller; (ASIN# B00009N1WZ) CD, available at Amazon.com; There are four tracks on this recording each lasting around 20 minutes. Emmett Miller has a soothing voice for instruction with Steven Halpern’s music