The power of meditation

It is estimated that 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety. It is hard to estimate that since mental health is hard to study in less developed countries. But in the west those numbers appear to be even more worrying. One of the main reasons is the unnatural exposure to stress in our society.

For a little background, stress is a completely natural survival mechanism. For example, when a zebra is in its normal state grazing its stress levels are normal. When the zebra suddenly has a lion chasing her huge amounts of adrenaline and cortisol (commonly referred to as the stress hormone) are released, which causes the entire bodily system to be focused on parts of the body which will help the zebra escape. The heart beats faster, supplying legs with oxygen filled blood and other organs and bodily functions (like immune system), which are not essential in that moment, are neglected. If the zebra gets away its hormone levels get back to normal and it goes back to grazing peacefully. In short stress means our body goes in to survival mode.

Snap back to our society and place the same principal in our context. While short term stress is natural and causes increase in productivity the issue today is long term stress. Our body, which is still wired to survive harsh wilderness, is at constant alert and constantly reacting as if we need to fight for survival. It causes harm to our organs, especially to our heart, our immune system. So what can we do about it?

Simply put we need to turn off our stress response and get out body back in to its natural state. Well it sounds simple but if it was that easy we wouldn’t have such a widespread problem with mental illness. One very good method is meditation. Contrary to popular belief it is not eastern quackery but has a very firm scientific basis, you can think of it as a massage for your mind. It is used as very effective therapy in psychiatry. It is not simple though. It is still something that needs to be learned and practiced. Just like any other skill. Some people are very will find it much easier than others but that is no reason to quit.

Start off with short sessions if you can’t do longer ones. Find meditation guides online that will teach you proper techniques. After a while you will be able to do it by yourself, with the help of some meditation music. One of the most useful meditation styles (and one of the most popular in therapy) is mindfulness. In essence it makes you much more aware and accepting of the present and thus helps you to limit excessive worrying. It also teaches you to relax your body with your will. At first it will take a while to get in to a fully relaxed state but after a while you will get there sooner and sooner when in the end you will be able to relax your mind and keep calm by taking three breaths, even if your boss is screaming at you because you only have one more hour to do a report you haven’t even started.

Mental health is very important but unfortunately very neglected in our society due to it being dismissed as a soft science. But hopefully awareness will soon be raised and meditation techniques will become perfected. Until then, don’t only take care of your body but also your mind. In the end they are part of the same thing: you!

This article was written by Neza Vizintin, a content marketer for a PPC
agency in London.