What does stress do to our bodies and the benefits of meditation

What does stress do to our bodies and the benefits of meditation
2021-05-26

Let me start by telling you a bit about myself. I am an Accountancy and Finance alumnus of the University of Aberdeen. I was a Restaurant business owner before attending University. When my son was born in 2014, I decided to change my career and become an Accountant, so I got to spend more time with him.

I worked 60 hours as a pizza delivery driver throughout my time at University to support my family. To be able to do what I did without taking stress, I also read over 40 books on the human body and mind and attended various training events. One of the things that really helped me was Meditation.

I joined KPMG as a trainee auditor. I published my first book on Meditation last year that went on to be an Amazon US Bestseller in multiple categories. A lot of people started approaching me for help and guidance and that is when the idea of becoming an Executive Coach occurred to me. I left KPMG in September 2020.

I now work with clients 1:1 to help them shift their beliefs, habits, and mindset for better mental and physical health which then also improves their performance (Superhuman In You). My clients include top-level executives, business owners, police officers, and athletes. My training and workshops are on topics such as Meditation, Mindfulness, Stress management, Emotional Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Improving Memory and brain performance, Time Management, and Productivity.

What is Meditation?

There are different ways of explaining what meditation is. The world around us has too much unnecessary noise. I like to define meditation as a super-practice to cancel this noise, so you can use all your energy and be more healthy, productive, and aware. Think about it as if our mind is a computer, whenever we have a new thought or event, we open a new window. Now throughout our life we keep on opening new windows. Have you ever noticed that when you have too many windows opened your computer slows down? This is exactly what is happening with our brain. By making meditation as a part of our daily ritual, we can close any unnecessary windows, hence freeing up the energy to use for important activities.

Benefits of Meditation

Several studies done in the last decade confirm the ‘neuroplastic’ nature of the human brain, which means that our intelligence is not set at birth – and we can enhance and increase the capacity of our brains in ways once believed to be impossible. Meditation can help rewire brain circuits that are responsible for our mental and physical health.

According to another study done by NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine), meditation can help reduce anxiety and depression. Students who practice meditation can improve their focus and other brain functions. Daily meditation also helps increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which makes a person feel positive and happier. A research performed at the University of Oregon shows that people who practice meditation find it easier to align their behaviour to their goals. In other words, this means that meditation can help you become better at decision-making and improve your overall cognitive performance.

What stress does to our body?

Stress response is a helpful function of our bodies in a life-or-death situation. The problem is we give too much importance to everyday activities in our daily life. Therefore, our nervous system cannot distinguish between being chased by a tiger and being stuck a traffic Jam. According to research 60-90 % of the total doctor visits are related to problems caused by stress. When our body is in ‘flight or fight mode’ our brain capacity significantly decreases. This in the long run causes health problems and lower energy levels. Meditation is one of the most powerful and natural way to combat stress.

Why do most people not Meditate?

So, the real question is why not meditate? Just 5 minutes of daily meditation can have profound impact on your Mind, Body and Life. It costs nothing. It is simple and can be done anywhere, anytime, and without much effort. In fact, it amazes me that for a practice that has been proved beneficial by ancient literature and modern science, and requires almost no effort or investment, why more people are not doing it?

The number one reason why most people fail to meditate is that they have this idea that to be a better meditator they must be thoughtless.The state of thoughtless awareness will come naturally and cannot be forced or controlled. Our brain is designed in a way that the more we try to control our thoughts, the more thoughts we will have.

The good news is that you do not have to be thoughtless to get many of the benefits from meditation discussed in this blog, just being on the journey is enough to bring major shifts in your life. For beginners what you should be doing is learning to observe. Find ten minutes of quiet time every day to sit quietly and observe. Observe your thoughts, your surroundings, any sensations in your body, your breathing, the temperature in the room etc. As you separate yourself from your thoughts you will find it easier to control them. Just let your thoughts come and go. Whenever your attention wanders bring it back to your breath or to the rising and falling sensation of your body as you breathe. Keep repeating this every time you notice your attention drifting off, without judgement. Remember that the nature of the mind is to think, and it is okay to think. Just do not get carried away with your thoughts. Keep coming back to your body and breathe.

When I was studying in Business School, one of the most powerful business tools I came across was the cost-benefit analysis. So here I present to you a cost benefit analysis (in a simple format) for those who are still struggling to decide whether they should start a daily meditation practice:

 

Published by Business School, University of Aberdeen

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