Your brain, arteries, immune system, liver, pancreas, and lungs would quickly shut down without this incredible stuff. And the more you have flowing through your beautiful body, the longer you will live. Wired magazine has called it the ‘Zen’ molecule. In scientific circles, it is called Nitric Oxide.
Why is it called the Zen molelcule? Because studies have shown that meditation boosts Nitric Oxide by More Than 1,000%+!
https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/jared-rice-NTyBbu66_SI-unsplash.jpg25602202Hazel Nathaniel-Jameshttps://mlfzem2qgdbm.i.optimole.com/WJJuWD8-G3x6S3SM/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/space-AEL-logo.pngHazel Nathaniel-James2018-09-13 14:15:262020-10-13 16:04:40Meditate for Greater Health and Live Longer
In a stressful situation, your body gets ready for emergency action, causing certain hormones to flood your system. This “fight or flight” reaction increases your blood pressure, breathing and heart rate.
Fight or flight literally squeezes the blood away from your vital organs to your arms and legs in readiness for action (usually ‘flight’). A natural product of our evolution, this response was very important for our ancient ancestors who faced real “life or death” situations.
The problem is, modern man’s common relationship issues, job problems, and financial difficulties are unnecessarily eliciting this same chemical cocktail of harmful hormones. Even worse, because these aren’t true fight or flight situations, we often “suck it up” and internalise the stress, making us feel helpless and powerless, surging our systems with even more nasty stuff.
Long-term stress (chronic) can exhaust your entire nervous system, releasing cortisol and adrenaline in a vicious cycle, eventually causing you to “burn out.” The result? You age faster, your immune system weakens, and your vital brain tissue shrinks.
Soon, anxiety and depression set in, causing you to seek out an escape mechanism (usually an addiction). Without an effective stress antidote, things can spiral further out of control, opening the door up to disease of all types.
Meditation is the Key. From physically changing the structure of the brain (neuroplasticity), to releasing stress neutralising chemicals, to quieting the anxiety-creating mind-chatter, here’s how meditation can work as the very best stress-neutralising tool.
A swimmer who has trained himself to do 20 lengths of the pool is unphased by a now petty 3 lengths that seemed difficult in his first week. Likewise, practicing meditation regularly will also push your mental and emotional thresholds to higher limits. The stress that once left you anxious, depressed, and possibly reaching for your favourite escape mechanism (meds, alcohol) will simply not carry anywhere near the same weight as before.
In addition, all of the anxiety and depression, building up over your lifetime gets melted away, session by session, layer by layer – even if you have tried everything else without success. In the end, your “nerves of steel” will be impenetrable to stress and all of its nasty side effects.
Scientists believe that our brains generate more than 50,000 thoughts per day. The problem is, for most of us, our minds feed us useless, fear-based, past/future narratives that make no difference to us in the present moment.
The same stale, repetitive thoughts about not having enough, not doing enough, and not being enough make us feel inadequate, powerless, and helpless. To compound the problem, we create even more resistance by attaching good/bad labels to our incoming thoughts.
The world-renowned founding father of analytical psychology, Dr. Carl Jung, perhaps put it best, “what you resist, persists.” This monkey mind effect creates a stress-based downward spiral, opening the door up to anxiety, depression, addiction, and a long list of disease.
So how do you quiet Monkey Mind?
Luckily, meditation is the very best method of quieting and stilling the mind. Meditation teaches you to be mindful of your incoming thoughts – to be aware of your inner monologue. It transfers power away from the busy, “monkey mind” to the slow, deep, profound Pre-frontal Cortex (responsible for clarity and decision making), allowing you to think more clearly and creatively about everything happening in your life.
Eventually your dominant level of consciousness will be calm yet powerful, where your true potential can finally shine through. Your highly beneficial meditation sessions will effectively eliminate whatever stress your cells are currently holding in, while preventing all future stress from snowballing into anything unmanageable like anxiety, depression or any other disease.
With medical science making it obvious just how damaging stress is to your overall health, it is easy to see why this age-old practice has now become a common practice.
https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Screenshot-2020-10-16-at-11.27.56.png10461408Hazel Nathaniel-Jameshttps://mlfzem2qgdbm.i.optimole.com/WJJuWD8-G3x6S3SM/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/space-AEL-logo.pngHazel Nathaniel-James2018-09-13 14:03:582020-10-16 10:28:37Busy Mind Epidemic or Monkey Mind!
https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Screenshot-2020-10-16-at-11.29.49.png8981516Hazel Nathaniel-Jameshttps://mlfzem2qgdbm.i.optimole.com/WJJuWD8-G3x6S3SM/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/space-AEL-logo.pngHazel Nathaniel-James2018-09-13 14:02:352020-10-16 10:30:56Meditation - "Don't just do something, Sit There"
The cosmetics industry got super excited that a Lobster was caught and this thing weighed 20 lbs was estimated to be at least 140 years old. And? I hear you say! What about it?
Take a moment to really think about that last fact. In theory, this lobster hatched in late 1800s. Most lobsters don’t live to that ripe old age because they’re eaten, injured or exposed to disease but if you removed these factors the results might be very different.
Anyway…………Lobsters are one of a handful of species that appear to be “biologically immortal.” These creatures don’t age in the same way that you or I do.
This got the beauty industry salivating. They’re now working on all kinds of lotions and potions involving the (not so secret ingredient) called Telomerase.
https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Screenshot-2020-10-13-at-17.06.05.png12801944Hazel Nathaniel-Jameshttps://mlfzem2qgdbm.i.optimole.com/WJJuWD8-G3x6S3SM/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/space-AEL-logo.pngHazel Nathaniel-James2018-09-13 14:00:482020-10-13 16:08:27So normally, this would not be news...
Contrary to the well-entrenched scientific dogma of decades ago, you have much more control over you may know.
For example, we may wonder how we “always” get sick on holiday, but hundreds of studies now conclude that our minds’ are the true supreme orchestrator of the mental, emotional, and physical wellness of the body.
Every thought, emotion, and feeling that we have forms a feedback loop with our neurochemistry. As we go about our daily routine, the stimuli we encounter creates within our brain lightning-fast neurotransmitters which then attach to ready and waiting receptor cells and neurons. Combined with your emotional state, chemicals then get created either letting your body know it’s party time or “I’m unwell and it’s not happening” time.
Your emotional barometer also corresponds with positive neurochemicals like those linked to so called “runner’s high”, like endorphins, norepinephrine, antioxidants, and immune system boosters.
Your thoughts and emotions are like the trigger that makes things happen. Being aware of what thoughts are present for you at any one time can make a huge difference wellness/unwellness, happy/sad. How to control this?
Luckily, the highest solution exists within you – Self awareness. What is the key to achieving so called “Self- aware Mastery”? Meditation.
https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Screenshot-2020-10-16-at-11.32.45.png548722Hazel Nathaniel-Jameshttps://mlfzem2qgdbm.i.optimole.com/WJJuWD8-G3x6S3SM/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/space-AEL-logo.pngHazel Nathaniel-James2018-09-13 13:50:302020-10-16 10:33:11Self-Awareness is the Key!
“Asked what quality distinguishes star performers in their respective fields, these individuals cited grit (or a close synonym) as often as talent. In fact, many were awed by the achievements of peers who did not (at first) seem as gifted as others but whose sustained commitment to their ambitions was exceptional. Likewise, many noted with surprise that prodigiously gifted peers did not end up in the upper echelons of their field.” Angela Duckworth, PhD.
We aren’t born with a “set” amount of grit but there are things we can do to strengthen our mental toughness. And leading the pack? Meditation. It all starts with the brain.
Meditation strengthens our “inner-Rocky-Balboa”. What is that? Well its your Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC); responsible for pain resistance, willpower, motivation, focus, clarity and emotional resilience. This powerful brain region ticks all the gritty, mentally toughness boxes.
Then, to increase grit, strengthen the ACC, right?
RIGHT! The University of Montreal researchers (Grant et al) compared the brains of 17 experienced meditators to 18 “normal” brains. What did they find?
The meditators’ brains had much “thicker” grey matter in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC), with the degree of thickness of grey matter linked to years of mediation experience.
In other words, meditation fortifies the brain’s “grit” center.
Harnessing the power of meditation to literally “grow” and strengthen the “grittiest” brain region of all takes the idea of a “growth mindset” to a whole new level. Neuroplasticity is a powerful thing.
https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Screenshot-2020-10-16-at-11.35.48.png566862Hazel Nathaniel-Jameshttps://mlfzem2qgdbm.i.optimole.com/WJJuWD8-G3x6S3SM/w:auto/h:auto/q:auto/https://www.anexaminedlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/space-AEL-logo.pngHazel Nathaniel-James2018-09-13 13:40:262020-10-16 10:36:16Meditation strengthens the "Chief Executive" part of your brain.
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