Part 3 of the Series: By Carol (an EASE Member)
While being a seemingly solitary activity, meditation is really an experience that makes me feel truly connected to the people and the world around me. It makes me feel that I am connected – to the earth and everything that is on it, that I am in my right place.
I used to be a very anxious, unhappy person. As I aged, the number of things to worry about began to multiply at an alarming rate. By the time I was 50, I felt overwhelmed by my anxiety and it was affecting everything in my life. I didn’t begin my life as an anxious person, but like all of us, I felt like somewhat of a survivor of life by the time I reached 50. There is a certain feeling of vulnerability that comes with age, probably because, by then, we have all been through many trials and tribulations.
I didn’t just want to be a survivor of the next part of my life, I wanted to be able to experience the joy of just being alive! What meditation and mindfulness taught me was to truly be in the moment and to see how amazing the world really is. When I was miserable, I was turned inside myself, I could not seem to find joy in anything anymore. My head was filled with constant meaningless chatter. I did not notice anything around me, I felt as though I was no longer connected to anything or anybody, that I had come adrift.
When you are anxious and your mind is preoccupied with negative thoughts your body produces an excess of Cortisone. Cortisone is the hormone your body produces when there is a threat or when you are in a state of stress. It raises your blood pressure and speeds up your heartbeat to prepare you for flight or fight. This is fine if there is a real physical threat, but if the hormone is flooding your system every time someone cuts you off in traffic, it’s not good for you.
Meditation and mindfulness, on the other hand, will flood your system with other hormones, such as Oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that turns on when a woman gives birth. It prepares her body both physically in the birthing process and emotionally to bond with her baby once it has been born. It is also believed to be associated with pair bonding, orgasms and social recognition when you are around people who care about you. It generates feelings of empathy, affection and passion.
Did you know that there is a direct relationship between actively thinking about someone or something you love and feelings of well being? Try it next time you feel down, you may be surprised at how much consciously thinking positively can change the way you feel.
When I meditate, I can acknowledge all the things that worry me or stress me out, but I don’t become involved in creating scenarios about what has or what will happen. I can make a space that is purely in this moment, where I can think about and appreciate the beauty and the wonder of all that surrounds me. In this way my “problems” just seem to fade, or at least seem much less important.
More to come…
If you would like to read more about how meditation helped me to slowly rewire my brain to see the good, to see the beauty, please read my next blog article.