Last week, I taught a mindful meditation session to employees in their workplace. Even though their self-admitted greatest challenge was to quiet their minds, the relaxation and relief at the session’s end was apparent on their faces and in their physical postures. In my own personal experience of meditating for the past 20 years, my ability to quiet my mind and stay calm under stressful conditions has exponentially increased both my mental and physical well-being.
New research is also intimately linking mental and physical health — an unhealthy mind can lead to an unhealthy body and vice versa — and points out 10 discoveries as evidence for healthy living. Here are my favourites:
1. Live a purposeful life.
Knowing your passions and strengths as well as what brings you joy protects your heart and your long-term wellbeing. And to ice that cake, a sense of true fulfillment occurs when you are helping others. Our human connections also increase our resilience. Loneliness, as opposed to being alone, can speed up premature aging, disease and death whereas connecting intimately, relationally and collectively provides affirmation and mutual reward.
2. One human brain’s memory capacity rivals the World Wide Web.
Our synapses, the brain’s junctions where electrical and chemical activity is directed along its appropriate pathways, are likely capable of moving 10 times more information than previously thought. So, learn something new every day. With new learning, our brain creates new connections, new neurons and repairs itself.
3. Active living reduces anxiety.
Such anxiety disorders as panic, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive and PTSD are linked to a sedentary lifestyle of TV watching, sitting at work and riding the bus to work. Aerobic activity keeps the body and brain happy and healthy as well as results in a good night’s sleep. Even one night of sleep deprivation can be as detrimental to insulin stability as six-months of a high-fat diet.
4. Awe, wonder and beauty lower inflammation.
Positive emotions, not only make us feel better, they also signal our immune system that it does not need to overwork. The result is reduced inflammation and thus reduced chance of heart disease, diabetes and many forms of mental illness. Valuing your time over money allows you to choose positive, meaningful experiences resulting in greater happiness.
It’s obvious . . . our bodies respond to the way we think, feel and act. This mind/body/ (and I would add) breath connection provides us with early warning signals indicating something isn’t right. These signals or sensations can be easily read when we choose healthy living and can quiet our mind and listen to our body. However, these warning sensations are often overwhelmed or completely masked by others symptoms when we don’t pay attention or aren’t mindful of our thoughts, words and deeds.
Those of us who feel we are self-disciplined and organized in our achievements, not only live longer but have an 89% lower risk of Alzheimer’s. Because we can focus our attention, we activate and use more of our brain. Both mental processing and subjective perspectives — positive attitude, sense of purpose and community — add longevity and richness to living.
The era of choosing for others, persuading others, convincing others, and
converting others has been replaced by a new era in which those same
endeavors are profoundly counterproductive. They backfire in big ways.
The new era requires distinguishing love from fear in yourself, choosing
between them, and assuming responsibility for the consequences that your
choices create. The era of telling others what is best for them and coercing
others into what is best for them is over. The era of consulting your intuition
and allowing others to consult theirs has arrived. Gary Zukav, Spiritual
Partnership: The Journey to Authentic Power
My meditation practice has been instrumental in providing me with the necessary “centred silence” from which I can hear my intuition and make wiser choices for my overall health and well-being. For the next five or ten minutes, set a timer and close your eyes. Just watch the unending thoughts — crazy, fearful, exciting — as they arise in your mind. Don’t become embroiled in them or try to follow them, merely watch them come and go. When the timer signals for you to stop, notice what has changed in your body, mind and breath.
For more on intuition and meditation, click here.