Stress – What it does, and Why to Dump It!!

January 20, 2010 at 8:48 am (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

Researchers, medical professionals and psychological professionals have long been aware of the damaging effects of stress on our lives. While some moderate stress can be beneficial in promoting physical, emotional or mental growth and accomplishment, in our current world, we generally have far more stress than is healthful.

Stress is related to a host of problems and illnesses that are annoying at least and completely debilitating at worst. The physical aspects of stress cause high blood pressure, digestive problems, ulcers and worse, and some medical studies show that emotional stress leads to psychosomatic illnesses including back and joint pain, general depression, general levels of pain in the body, (often associated with fibromyalgia) and a host of other illnesses.

The focus of this article is on the effects of stress in the brain, which is the realm of meditation. In his book on ‘Why we Believe What We Believe,’ Dr. Andrew Newberg from the University of Pennsylvania explains that stress attacks the hippocampus, which is the gland in the brain that regulates emotions, memory learning and personality. These functions are essential in maintaining a healthy outlook on life, motivation, healthy behaviors and beliefs.

He also underscores the harmful effects of stress on the systems in the body that control growth, sexual and reproductive functions, heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure and digestion. The harful effect of excessive stress on nearly all body functions is not hard to understand. The physical analogy is trying to hold a heavy object over your head for an extended period of time. You can do it for a while, and then you exceed your limit. Continuing to try puts crazy stress on every area of your body and mind, and soon you collapse. Why would the internal physical and mental systems of the body be any different?

Dr. Newberg goes on to explain that stress can undermine every aspect of our cognitive and emotional ability and the longer we remain stressed the more our perception of reality becomes skewed. We ten come to believe that we are helpless, hopeless and somehow emotionally crippled. This state releases further stress hormones and the cycle repeats. Our frontal lobe activity is decreased and we then find it more difficult to solve problems and we are more prone to depression anxiety and rage.

Wow! What a set of indictments against stress. The point of putting this information in the blog on meditation is to point out the beneficial effects of meditation on stressful situations. Meditation can help relieve stress in at least three ways.

First, meditation can relieve stress by giving you the ability to separate yourself from the situation for awhile. During meditation we intentionally empty our minds of thoughts or focus on one simple thing like the breath. This gives our bodies and minds time to regroup and recover from the ongoing stresses around us.

Second, In this meditative state and process we can think more clearly about aspects of our lives that we may want to change. What can we eliminate, or what can we change that will reduce the stress in our lives and the pull on our time? In the course on ‘The Power of Meditation,” we cover extensively various strategies for relieving stress and calming the storms that life can sometimes dump on us.

Third, meditation can help you every single day to have a period of calm reflection, clarity of mind, total relaxation of body and spirit and peace which will greatly assist you in your efforts every day to manage the day well, get the things done that you wanted, and keep your commitments to change that you identified in the paragraph above.

Relieving stress is a fantastic way to use meditation, stress relief is a natural by-product of effective and regular meditation. Dr. Newberg points out that the effects of stress are cumulative, and that as they build up over time they are even more damaging. In exactly the same way, Stress relief and the benefits of meditation are also cumulative. The more you stick with your meditation practice, the better you get at it, the more effective your meditation becomes and the more powerful and deep the benefits are on your life, heart and mind.

Here’s to stress relief through meditation!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: