Meditation – WEEK BEG MONDAY 21ST OCT 2019
As some of you know, I have been working on a few qualifications over the past couple of years.
This year I qualified as a Holistic Mindset Coach, achieved my Reiki Level One and qualified as a Meditation Teacher with the British School of Meditation.
This talk is to explain a little more about meditation.
- Meditation is a practical skill to help many aspects of wellbeing. It is simple to learn but not always easy to do.
- Meditation can be practised in a variety of ways and is something that everyone can access.
- Meditation provides an opportunity to find clarity, focus, peace and calm while being in the moment/present.
- Meditation is a scientific process that unifies all aspects of the psyche. It can act as a mood regulator and a counterbalance for the fight or flight response.
- Meditation is a way to get to know your true self and to love yourself. It is an opportunity for self-care.
- Meditation is not an exclusive practice. It doesn’t have to be done a certain way by a certain type of person in a certain position. You don’t have to sit cross-legged and say “Om.”
- Meditation doesn’t have to happen in a silent environment and it doesn’t have to take a certain amount of time.
- Meditation does not have to be a spiritual and/or religious experience.
- Meditation is not a method of stopping thoughts or going to sleep.
- Meditation is not always easy or relaxing.
Meditation is a scientific evidence based inclusive practice that provides an opportunity to focus your mind in the present moment to seek clarity/perspective while improving your physiological, psychological and emotional wellbeing when done repeatedly over time.
There are many benefits to meditation that are supported by scientific research:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Lowers heart rate
- Releases tension in the body
- Reduces stress
- Reduces anxiety
- Improves and strengthens immune system
- Improves quality of sleep
- More energy
- Better memory
- Builds emotional resilience
- Helps to regulate emotions
- Improved concentration
I will be running a Beginners’ Mindfulness Meditation Course on Wednesday 6th November 2019 for 5 weeks.
At Preston Road Community Centre in Abingdon.
10:45am to 11:45am
PAF members - £45
Non-members - £55
There are only 12 spaces available (minimum 5 to run the course).
If you would like to book one of these places please text Philippa 07702 727971 or tell your instructor now.
Your place is only secure once your payment is made.
This is not a spiritual course. This is a secular science based course to improve your brain and mind health and fitness.
A further more detailed talk is attached below/to the newsletter for people to read at their leisure.
In the year 2017/18, 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety (Labour Force Survey). In the year 2014/15 where 9.9 million working days were lost due the same conditions.
In 2014/15 work-related stress, anxiety and depression accounted for 43% of working days lost due to ill health but by 2017/18 this had increased to 57%.
The above statistics indicate an increase of stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace. The working days lost to these conditions have an impact on quality of life for those individuals, their families and their work colleagues; it doesn’t just affect the workplace.
Meditation has been shown to reduce stress and in turn lower the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in our bodies. Constant stress in our lives means that cortisol and adrenaline are continually released into our bodies and we are in a permanent state of “fight or flight”. Regular meditation has been shown to reduce the size of the amygdala; the smaller the amygdala the less stressed the human. The amygdala is responsible for sending the initial stress signal to the hypothalamus in situations of perceived danger; it initiates the “fight or flight” response.
Dr Herbert Benson discovered the relaxation response - the way the body dissipates and stops the “fight or flight” response to perceived stress/threats. Through his research he was able to show that meditation leads to the relaxation response; this in turn led to a decrease in heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.
Meditation can help you to sleep better. A quarter of the population have sleep problems but meditating 2 hours before bedtime leads to an increase in melatonin (the sleep hormone) so you are more likely to get to sleep easily.
Heart disease is the number 1 cause of deaths in the UK. Meditation can improve heart health by reducing blood pressure, heart rate and cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that using meditation to initiate the relaxation response can lead to hypertension sufferers not only reducing their blood pressure but the medication they take as well. The Loving Kindness meditation leads to a release in oxytocin and this widens blood vessels, allows the blood to flow more easily and so reduces blood pressure.
Meditation can help you to look younger. As you relax it leads to a reduction in the number of worry lines on your face. Dr Herbert Benson showed that meditation slowed down the process of oxidative stress, had a positive impact on genes and in doing so slowed down the ageing process. Sara Lazar PhD has found that meditation may slow down the age-related breakdown of parts of the brain and so keeping our mind younger for longer too!
Concentration improves as a result of regular meditation. The ability to focus is at the heart of any meditation practice and so naturally has an impact in the meditator’s day to day life. Sara Lazar found that participants who meditated regular saw a significant improvement in concentration levels. Meditation also improves the areas of the brain related to attention, awareness and decision making.
Meditation has been shown to improve the immune system. A reduction in cortisol (as a result of regular meditation) leads to a stronger immune system. Two minutes of negativity leads to four hours of the immune system being suppressed. Regular meditation helps you to be more present, more relaxed, calmer, happier and less prone to periods of negativity. Bruce Barrett MD PhD found that the subjects in the meditation group had shorter illnesses than those in the exercise group or the observation group.
Meditation leads to feeling happier. It increases the activity in, the size of and the density of the left pre-frontal cortex. This is the area associated with positive emotions i.e. happiness! The Loving Kindness meditation has been shown to specifically increase the size of the left pre-frontal cortex.
The body protects its vital organs from cortisol by laying down fat around them in the abdomen. Cortisol leads to cravings for carbohydrates and fat as it prepares for the “fight or flight” that it believes will be necessary as a result of stress. High levels of cortisol lead to weight gain. By meditating regularly, it leads to a reduction in cortisol and as a result it may lead to weight loss. Diaphragmatic breathing (deep belly breathing) helps to disperse cortisol. Six breaths per minute is the ideal speed.
Meditation may also help with mood regulation so people are less likely to suffer from mood swings. The areas of the brain associated with emotion regulation increase in size as a result of regular meditation. Up until the 1980s it was thought that once formed the brain didn’t change. We now know, through scientific research, that the brain can change and grow and build new pathways. This ability is known as neuroplasticity.
The ability to focus in the moment and present can help people suffering from addictions (drugs, alcohol, gambling etc) to reduce their dependence and become free from them. Meditation has also been known to help people manage pain. Sara Lazar’s work with MBSR found participants reported a reduction in pain levels.
In conclusion, meditation has a wealth of benefits to the health and wellbeing of humankind. Increasing amounts of scientific research are being done to substantiate these benefits mentioned above and further benefits are sure to be found in the future. Meditation is a non-invasive remedy to many of the problems that humans try to cure with chemical, man made and potentially harmful substances. It is a skill for life that, in my opinion, everyone would benefit from knowing.