“Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
My name is Tom Arguello, and I’m a chronic meditator. I started meditating over five years ago when I began my holistic healing regimen. Now, meditation is not only a part of my daily routine, it’s a major part of my life. For me, meditation touched every aspect of my being: mind/body/spirit. It elevated and healed me in every way possible. The benefits of are far too numerous to list in a single blog. That’s why I’ve chosen to start with how meditation affects the body.
IT CAN LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE AND DECREASE TENSION IN THE BODY
When we are tense, blood pressure increases. Meditation is a great way to relieve that tension and decrease blood pressure naturally. A new study suggests that Transcendental meditation (which involves sitting comfortably with eyes closed for 20 minutes at a time) actually stimulates genes that produce telomerase - an enzyme associated with reduced blood pressure and mortality.
Another recent study conducted at Michigan Technological University concluded that mindfulness and meditation were linked to a reduction in stress, anxiety, resting heart rate and you guessed it… aortic blood pressure.
While you are meditating, the mind and body become extremely relaxed, which helps reduce cortisol levels. Because you are in such a relaxed state, you may experience other positive “side effects” such as lessening the occurrence and severity of migraines, decreasing PMS symptoms in women, reducing joint pain and muscle aches, and much more. Pretty much anywhere that you hold tension in the body can be relaxed through meditation. I can often feel my shoulders drop as I silently focus on my breathing. This is because meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which takes you out of a “fight or flight” state and calms your nerves. It’s great stuff!
IT STRENGTHENS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Consistent meditation can actually fortify the body’s immune system by boosting the presence of antibodies (who scout and identify antigens) and T cells (who exterminate the antigens) within the blood. These can both compound over time. Essentially, the more meditating that you do, the more T cells you’ll produce to kick the crap out of viruses, infections and bacteria. This is a real “health hack”, but it doesn’t stop there!
The University of Wisconsin recently conducted a study on a group of 25 healthy employees who meditated for two months. What they found at the end of this eight week period was nothing short of amazing. Through consistent meditation, the group activated a dormant, yet very important immune-linked brain region (left-sided anterior). The simple act of meditating turned this region of the brain on like a light switch!
*Ask your doctor if meditation is right for you. If they say no, find a different doctor.
IT AFFECTS THE BRAIN BY DECREASING ANXIETY WHILE INCREASING CREATIVITY AND COMPASSION
The more that you meditate, the less anxious you will become. This is because over time, you can actually weaken the connection of the neural pathway that regulates the “Me center” (the medial prefrontal cortex) that is responsible for anxiety. As this pathway is weakened, the assessment center of the brain (the part known for reasoning) is strengthened. Meditation complements the connection between the gut (digestive tract) and the brain to optimize serotonin production. Meditation and a whole-foods, organic diet is the natural solution to anxiety - Period!
If you’re looking for more creative ideas, look no further than within yourself. There’s a reason why most successful CEO’s and entrepreneurs meditate daily, and it’s because meditation gets those creative juices flowing! I have experienced this myself. When I meditate, I often receive what I can only call “downloads” of information and ideas. It’s really friggin’ cool.
Research on meditation also shows that empathy and compassion are higher in those who practice regularly. This is because meditation strengthens the temporal parietal junctures (a part of the brain tied to empathy). Please meditate! We can definitely use more empathetic people in the world!
HOW TO MEDITATE
While there is no one correct way to meditate, here are some basics:
Sit comfortably either on the ground or in a chair with your back straight.
Keep your eyes closed or open. (Whatever works for you)
Don’t worry about your hands. There are other types of meditation that incorporates hand gestures or mudras. Look for another blog from me on the subject.
Cross your legs however you want. I typically cross my legs in front of me. (Think “Criss-cross, applesauce”)
Look slightly downward even if your eyes are closed, This opens up the chest and allows for deeper breathing.
Focus on your breathing.
Don’t think (I know, right?) This is the main point of meditation and trust me, it gets easier.
Bring your attention back to your mind when it wanders (and it will wander).
Try to sit in meditation for 10 minutes a day. Also experiment with guided meditations on YouTube or the Headspace app.
In summary, meditation is far better than medication. While not easy to do at the beginning, it does get easier over time. It’s like anything else; consistency is the key. If you’re looking to change your life for the better, this is the way to do it. Meditation IS medicine! It’s real, affordable healthcare. It’s preventative and it’s so important to do every single day, so consider this your prescription! Get to meditating!
To your health!