Meditation is simply a vehicle that helps you get out of sympathetic mode and into parasympathetic mode. What this means is that you go from fight, flee, or freeze, which is the sympathetic operating system, to rest and digest, which is the parasympathetic operating system. Much of the world tends to live in sympathetic mode. Consistently stressed, ruminating over the past, or way over analyzing the future. There’s not a whole lot of being in the present moment. Our body was built to be in sympathetic mode when we needed to fight, flea, or freeze in order to save our own life.
When we are in this mode for an extended time, our prefrontal cortex shuts down, our immune system shuts down, and our digestive system shuts down. Our body is utilizing our blood, and the intense chemicals being released to guide us to getting out of wherever it is it wants to remove us from. When we stay in the state long enough, it starts to drastically break our body down. This is why they call stress the silent killer.
The more often you are able to get yourself into the parasympathetic mode — rest and digest — you open your mind, you give your digestive system flow, and you have the ability to boost your immune system. By being in the parasympathetic state, you can practice presence, you can practice mindfulness. The study/practice of mindfulness simply means the ability to be present without the bombardment of thoughts, and emotions. This is not to say that you will have zero thoughts and this is not to say that you will have zero emotion. It simply means that you are in the present, experiencing and allowing thoughts and emotions to be fleeting.
Mindfulness is the ability to overcome and more easily navigate through tension, stress, and negativity, thus allowing your body and mind relaxation. Mindfulness is being able to associate with yourself, who you are, how you feel, what you need, and how you are connected to this Earth and other living things. Mindfulness is the awareness that there is not only you. Mindfulness is the awareness that you are a co-creator in your life and that you absolutely have the ability to create change within yourself. Mindfulness is the awareness that you are in control of how you feel, how you think, and what you believe.
By practicing meditation you allow yourself to associate with this awareness. Meditation is absolutely a practice and not something that anybody is truly good at right away. It can take a lot of time to learn how to be still, how to connect with your breathing.
It takes determination, a little courage, and willingness to practice meditation in order to associate with your mindfulness. Sometimes when we are silent with ourselves, is when the uncomfortable stuff can come up or we become aware of just how uncomfortable we have been. Our “monkey mind” starts chattering at us, or the aches and pains in our body start yelling at us. This can be off-putting to some and enough to drive them away from wanting to continue the practice. The key is to have tools and techniques that help you to feel and know that you are in control of your mind and your body. You are in control of the “monkey mind,” the aches, and the pains.
Some meditations use storytelling, some use only one word, some use chanting, some use movement, and some use laughter. Some meditations are guided, and other times meditation is reached when hiking or exercising. There is no one right way to meditate. I encourage you to experiment and practice to find what works for you.
Who’s helping you in your pursuit?
by Melissa Reese