I believe it is becoming common place for people to consider implementing meditation techniques into their daily lives and that is because we are coming to understand there is a strong link between meditation and healing. That seems like quite the jump – but not when you actually break it down.
What does Meditation do?
When we think of the mind, we associate it with the head area – this is where we believe our thoughts are held and what we cradle in times of stress. The head holds the brain which we now know has the ability to find new neural pathways and essentially can heal given the right stimulus. This is known as neuroplasticity. This is hard to achieve if there are external stressors affecting your emotions and ability to cope with everyday life.
Meditation creates that ‘space’ in your mind where thought can be released as you consciously focus, this in turn regulates the heart. When emotions are heightened the heart races, so the ability to bring the heart rate down will conversely regulate those emotions. With daily practice, meditation can give us the skills to access this ability to regulate at any point of the day bringing coherence to the brain and heart – we will have built a new neural pathway that our brain and our body can remember.
The Heart has a Mind
Uh, excuse me? Yes indeed it does. The Heartmath institute have researched the science to support this theory. They write
‘Most of us have been taught in school that the heart is constantly responding to “orders” sent by the brain in the form of neural signals. However, it is not as commonly known that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart! Moreover, these heart signals have a significant effect on brain function – influencing emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.
……HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. (This helps explain why we may often act impulsively and unwisely when we’re under stress.) The heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes—actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress.
How is this Linked to Healing?
Well we know the importance of the heart to pump blood around our body which keeps this essential part of us alive, but it is more than that. Scientists and physicians consider the heart rate variability (or the beat to beat rhythm of the heart) to be an important indicator of health and fitness.
‘As a marker of physiological resilience and behavioral flexibility, it reflects our ability to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands.’ www.heartmath.com/science/
Dr. Bruce Lipton has spent a lifetime on the research of how the mind can heal the body by understanding how environmental factors have a greater influence on health than genetics. In his blog ‘How to heal your body with your mind’ 2017 he wrote
‘Let me tell you some fundamentals of how the mind works so this will be more clear to you. The cells of your body are merely following instructions given by the nervous system, by the brain. The nervous system does the interpretation. You can easily see this when you see two people reacting to the same stimulus with very different reactions, one positive and one negative. As your perception changes, you change the message that your nervous system communicates to the cells of your body. Your mind controls your biology. That’s what the placebo effect is about; the mind believes the pill will work and so it does.’
Emotions are our Guide
So how can we tell if are on the road to ill health before we get hit upside the head with some overwhelming disease that we believe is beyond our control and we are now in the hands of well-intentioned but limited doctors?
Our emotions are our guides – notice when you are feeling a negative emotion and do something about stopping that momentum from building as one negative thought leads to another and another and another. Check in with yourself regularly as this may be an unconscious way of being that catches up with you. It is highly unnatural to be in a negative emotional state, and our body feeds that back to us – we just have to listen. It is also equally important to notice when you are in a positive emotional state and how good that makes you feel and appreciate that for all it brings to you.
This is where meditation is the tool to help bring you back to – if nothing else – a state of neutrality, which can only bring you back toward your natural state of joy, freedom and love.