What can it do for you?
Meditation is now being embraced by health practitioners all over the world as an effective holistic therapy that can relieve stress and anxiety, alleviate problems such as insomnia, migraines and high blood pressure, and improve focus, memory and emotional balance. Extensive physiological research has shown that at least three 20-minute periods of meditation weekly can reduce heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety and other stress-related problems.
Dr Joan Borysenko, a world-renowned expert in the mind/body connection, comments that as the field of psycho-neuroimmunology began to emerge, scientists and health professionals began to understand more about the brain and neuropeptides, which are cells within the nervous system that secrete hormones that can affect any cell in the body with a receptor site for them.
“So an emotion you experience can affect your skin or your heart. People have known that intuitively, but it’s very different to really understand, from a scientific perspective, what those connections are and how they operate,” says Dr Borysenkno. “We live in a society where science has become the god, so it’s fascinating — and helpful to the acceptance of the mind-body connection — that much of it can be scientifically validated.”
Victoria Kasunic, clinical psychologist, believes meditation is refreshment for our minds and can be an essential strategy for developing self awareness by heightening awareness of the “soundtrack” of persistent, negative thoughts running through our minds.
“Your thoughts influence your feelings and behaviour and people are often unaware of what they are thinking. Through meditation you actually start to hear what it is you are thinking and sometimes how judgmental or unkind you are being to yourself,” she says.
“By sitting quietly in meditation you also become acutely aware of your feelings and physical sensations. You learn to be in the present moment rather than focusing on the past or the future. It allows you to tune in to your inner voice rather than be swayed by the opinions of other people. Meditation is a great practice if you are feeling lost or disconnected from yourself, as it connects you back to who you really are.”
Kasunic believes that if you want to be happy on an ongoing basis, some form of meditation practice is an essential ingredient to achieving this and recommends practising meditation to all her clients. “When you are going through a stressful time of change or transition, it supports that process and is a great strategy for living a healthy and happy life even when things are going well,” she says.
“Particular types of guided meditation can be useful in losing weight, improving your self-esteem, and gaining clarity in decision making and goal setting. I often use guided meditation in sessions with clients when they are very stuck in certain situations to assist them to see things from a different perspective and connect to their authentic goals. Sometimes our logical or ego mind gets locked down and meditation can assist to open the mind up to new and creative possibilities.”