Five Minutes in the John. Chapter Four: Why bother?

 Personal transformation created through meaningful inner experience, might be the greatest benefit
meditation offers.
--Said by Me

This is the part where I preach the virtues of meditation. Brace yourself.

As an energy medicine practitioner with almost 30 years of experience working with clients, I see how meditation supports my clients. Healing is an inside job, and the more time we can spend being with ourselves without distraction, the greater is our opportunity to access awareness for change. You can only change what you are aware of. It doesn’t matter how much a therapist or healer knows about us, change only happens when the light goes on in our own consciousness

Those who are serious about transforming their lives can do so with greater ease and grace if they have a meditation practice. The ah-ha that comes from finding meaning in connecting the dots of repeating but confusing life patterns, happens more often with meditators. According to Bruce Lipton, biologist, teacher and author of The Biology of Belief, the subconscious mind controls 95% of how our circumstances manifest. Meditation helps us know what is in that subconscious vault, a little bit at a time.

Meditation supports the psychotherapeutic process, the creative process and the healing process. I don’t think anyone really knows the pathway for all that transformation, but enlightened people from the dawn of time have put their tush on the cush. There must be something to this. Awakening to the awareness that we are so much more than a physical body is a key element. Sitting in the silence, the space between thoughts, even if it is only for a moment, allows us to be privy to the wisdom that is greater than the repetitive thoughts generated by our brain. That tiny space is where all the magic happens.

Science has fully documented the mental and physiological benefits of meditation. including stress reduction, lower blood pressure, improved immune response, and pain relief. Feeling better is a great motivator. My short list of the big beautiful benefits includes:

1. Problem solving and decision making clarity. If you are struggling with a decision, or stuck with a project, sitting and “doing nothing” can seem counterproductive, but is actually very helpful. When we meditate we have access to great wisdom that can be heard as a voice in our head, or felt as a feeling. It is then that we know we are one with something that is much greater than the physical experience. Einstein discovered the Theory of Relativity in a meditative state. Just imagine what you might discover. Meditation also works really well in combination with cognitive therapy, energy medicine or any other kind of therapeutic intervention.

2. Relaxation is the “no-brainer” benefit in the list, fully documented by EEG’s, MRI’s and other alphabet studies. Stress is one of the biggest health issues we face in our modern world. Stress aggravates so many health issues that to use meditation as medicine is not at all an understatement. Back in the days of the caveman, stress was a lifesaver. Our brain is hardwired for survival. We catch the scent of a saber tooth tiger and our physiology is already responding by sending adrenaline coursing through our system, kick starting us to leap into battle or to run like hell. I don’t know about you, but I rarely face such challenges in Connecticut. That is not to say that we do not face life and death circumstances, but mostly, these days, we simply scare ourselves. We remember experiences that caused us suffering and then we launch those memories like rockets into the future as anxiety and worry. The body responds to the thought of a tiger in the same way it responds to a real saber tooth tiger. Daily challenges, including thoughts and fears, become constant stressors. We respond by producing a pharmacopeia of stress related chemicals, revving up our system and then staying revved, because the imagined threat never passes. You hear that? Stress never passes! Thoughts stay swimming in our brains, repeating over and over and making us crazy. Our immune system gets suppressed by all those chemicals coursing through our bodies and we get sick. Have you ever noticed that when you are having a hard time you get a cold or the flu? Yup. I rest my case. According to the Mayo Clinic, long term activation of the stress-response system, (i.e. modern life) can disrupt almost all of the body’s processes. We do not want that.

What does the Mayo Clinic recommend we do to manage stress in a healthy way? You guessed it…

                                               

                     ***MEDITATION***

 

Of course eating a healthy diet, getting exercise, having friends, a sense of humor and seeking professional help when necessary is also advised.

I would say, and you can quote me, that even if you ate cold pizza at the kitchen sink, and watched TV for hours, your life would change for the better if you meditated 15 minutes every day. Listening within creates broad based awareness that connects us with our inner wisdom, and encourages change.

For example, years ago I was a smoker. I took a meditation program called Silva Mind Control that probably saved my life. I smoked because it was a cool thing to do back then. I wasn’t thinking about quitting, but one day on my way to work I had a new thought: I am not a smoker. I felt an urge to stop the car, and toss my cigarette pack away. Yes, I followed the urge and littered. I don’t know exactly what that was, but I credit meditation for my ability to receive the message. As they say, results may vary, from subtle to sublime, but results will be had!

3. Meditation CHANGES YOUR BRAIN. My father used to say it was a woman's perogative to change her mind. I would say we all need to change our mind. I often want to escape the tangled web of repeating thoughts, worries, and beliefs. Thoughts can be relentless, grinding away over and over, telling us stories that may or may not be true. That is called ruminating and it is exhausting. A cow is a ruminant because it chews cud all day long. That is what we do with our thoughts, chew chew chew, and it is not nearly as nourishing. All that thinking prevents us from receiving new bits of information. Sadly only a few thousand new bits ever make it to our awareness on a daily basis. The brain filters out the rest because they are not necessary for survival. But we do need them to thrive. Meditation helps us receive new thoughts before they hit the brain filter.

Thoughts are simply passing electrical signals in our brain, tracks from past experiences, assigned a value by the mind. The Grand Canyon was created by a persistent flow of water across the landscape. Thinking is a similar flow across our inner landscape. The more we think a particular thought, the stronger and faster the impulse gets until we create a groove that cements in a thought which becomes a belief. But that is not the end of the story. We now know that the cells in the brain are very responsive to change. Neuroplasticity demonstrates that changing our mind quite literally changes neural pathways. That means we have input into our experience. We can choose to think a thought that makes us feel good or one that scares the pants off us. The more we think the feel good thought, the healthier we are and science is proving it. However, please do not get caught in trying to do this perfectly. Sometimes we have scary thoughts and there is no shame in that. Meditation helps us to be mindful so when we have an unsupportive thought we can change our mind.

4. Calms Nervous System. Research found that after 8 weeks of meditation, the “fight or flight” center of the brain appeared to shrink. That means less fear, decreased fear based physiological responses, less stress and greater health. Do I have your attention? Fear, trauma, and anxiety is as common as ants on a log. But that’s not all. The pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that functions to provide awareness, concentration and decision-making becomes thicker. Mindfulness allows us to turn down the stress response and turn up mental clarity, so to speak.

But don't take my word for it. If you still aren’t convinced that meditation is a good idea, do your own research and experiments like the 28 Day Meditation Challenge. There is an abundance of reputable scientific and medical information out there. Google it.




Copyright 2022 by Hillary Gauvreau Oat








Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Five Minutes in the John. Chapter Five: Why Don't We Do It?

Five Minutes in the John. A Simple Meditation Guide

Day 1 of The 28 Day Meditation Challenge