Meditation is an ancient technique that has been around for thousands of years. It includes the focus of your attention into your senses, such as hearing, vision, physical feelings, taste, and smells to calm the mind of jumbled thoughts. This practice is meant to eliminate stress and enhance emotional well being by immersing yourself in the present moment. Meditation teaches us to ‘notice’ sensational information around us including any information given by the senses, plus noticing thoughts. by just noticing thoughts, we stop any emotions attachment to them. By considering them appearances in consciousness, rather than our true emotions. Meditation can also teach us to feel our emotions physically rather than mentally, this also helps us to detach from any mental emotional feeling related to the thought. The benefits of meditation are amazing! Physically what happens in your brain when you’ve been meditating for a while is that the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for fear and emotional processing actually shrinks in volume, whereas the parts of the brain that are responsible for happiness, increase in volume. These effects can occur with just 8 weeks of daily meditation. Meditation also allows us to see stressful daily situations in a new perspective so as to be able to deal with them better and more efficiently. With the negative emotional feelings out of the way, this leaves space for more imagination, patience, creativity, tolerance and love. There has been some new research found in meditation that suggests that the body actually create antibodies whilst meditating. The impacts that these antibodies may have has not yet fully been discovered, however this could suggest that meditation may be useful in curing diseases and illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep disorders, headaches, chronic pain, asmtha and depression. During meditation, the focus of your mind to one specific body part actually makes the body send more blood to that area, therefore allowing it to heal faster.
Pranayama is a practice of breath work. It translates to life energy control and includes inhaling and exhaling and holding your breath in specific ways. There are countless techniques within pranayama including controlling the timing, duration and the frequency of each breath. The goal of pranayama is to supply the body with oxygen and remove any negative toxins out from the body. Its benefits include the deduction of stress as it calms down the nervous system and increases oxygen flow to the vital organs including the brain and nerves. One interesting thing we learned in class was that the left nadi is responsible for melatonin, which calms and cooled the body down. The right nadi is responsible for serotonin which energies the body. Pranayama can both calm the body down as well as prepare the body for the day, energise and refresh. Through its stress relieving properties it also improves sleep quality through reaching a state of mindfulness and slowing the heart rate. It has also been found to reduce high blood pressure and hypertension by calming the nervous system. As pranayama includes many techniques that expand and strengthen the lungs, this can aid in lung conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and helps recovery from pneumonia and tuberculosis. Pranayama has also been found to improve executive function, which are cognitive process that includes everyday skills such as memory, flexible thinking and self control. With these functions working properly in the brain it allows for a more focused mind that is able to handle emotions and daily activities more efficiently.
Mudras are gestures done using the hands which balance the energy within the body. They are usually used in the time of meditation and different kinds of mudras have different effects. They can change the mood, and perception of a person performing them. One type of Mudra is the Gyan mudra which is performed by touring the thumb and index finger of the left hand together. This mudra helps to relax the body and stimulate the brain. The thumb represent the fire element, whereas the index finger represents the air element. together they evoke wisdom, improve concentration and relieve stress. The varun mudra is performed by connecting the pink finger and thumb. The pinky finger represents the water element and through this connection, this mudra helps to promote beauty and health. It can help with dehydration, as it includes the water element, balancing the water within the body. It helps alleviate cramps in the muscles, dryness of skin, mouth, throat and eyes.