Stress, Anxiety and Depression are some of the most popular reasons to learn to meditate.
For the majority of people, all 3 of these symptoms are a result of the demands on your body being higher than the amount of energy that you have to manage them. And by not having enough energy, your body takes on more stress than you would if you had high energy.
Stress isn’t just taken on by your body when you’re experiencing the extremes of emotions - completely overwhelmed, panic attacks, screaming at people or uncontrollable crying. We take on stress in various quantities all day, every day. For example:
Small scoop - oversleeping
Medium scoop - travel delay makes you late for work
Big scoop - boss reprimands you for being late again / something work-related
Small scoop - lunch wasn’t very nice
Tiny scoop - unpleasant smell hits your nose
Medium scoop - thinking how unfair your boss was and getting upset again
Big scoop - kids won’t stop yelling / arguing with your partner
Medium scoop - lying in bed unable to sleep going over how bad your day was
Big scoop - wake up at 3am and lie there fretting that if you can’t get to sleep tomorrow will be even worse
Each of these scenarios will result in your body releasing the stress hormones Cortisol and Adrenaline. Now, these chemicals are very acidic and so damaging to the body if they are present in your bloodstream for too long. So what happens is that when your body doesn't have enough energy to remove the chemicals, it stores them in your nervous system so that they are no longer damaging your organic insides. And this, just like fat & sugar, is cumulative. This storage locker has been in use since you were a baby!
When the locker starts to get full, and your body can't store those chemicals away, that's when you continue to feel those symptoms long after the event.
Here's a little Facebook Live video I created to visualise this topic.
So how does Vedic Meditation help?
There are 4 things that meditation provides that play a really big role in improving these emotions:
1. The regular daily removal of stress chemicals
During meditation, our body releases Dopamine and Serotonin, the antidotes to the stress chemicals that remove stress from the bloodstream, so you feel immediately calmer. And over time, meditation starts to clear our stress from the storage locker. As space clears you feel calmer and better able to handle situations.
2. The production of bliss chemicals, so you feel happier
Dopamine and Serotonin are the happy chemicals. Having a twice-daily infusion is a great boost for your mood. I'm not promising you'll be belting out show tunes all the time, but most students notice a general contentedness.
3. The gradual deletion of those pesky PCCs (Premature Cognitive Commitments) that control your subconscious, knee-jerk responses to situations
As part of our fight/flight response (our stress response), our body creates a log of all the things that were around at the time. This helped our ancestors notice a similar pattern to a previous attack and help them avoid or prepare. The same happens now. Get yelled at in meeting room 3 and the next time you're in that room, if you haven't cleared out that PCC, you'll feel a little anxious and that can influence how you behave in that meeting. It's nothing to do with the discussion that's about to happen, it's just a reminder of what happened last time (or 6 months/years ago!).
Clear out these unnecessary PCCs and you won't feel anxious in that room anymore, and you can decide how to respond to the discussion calmly.
PCCs are also responsible for our knee-jerk reactions - your partner not putting out the bins, discussions with your mother-in-law, the kids not wanting to go to bed. If you're unable to change your response to certain stimuli, even when you really try to, then you need a PCC clear-out!
4. Daily credits into your bank of adaptability
Dealing with demands and clearing out any stress chemicals takes energy. If you're rested and calm, your response to dropping your cuppa will be very different to if you're tired and stressed out.
Vedic Meditation provides rest up to 5 times deeper than sleep. So your 20 min meditation provides a lot of extra rest for your body, giving you the energy to calmly deal with demands. We call this adaptation energy.
There’s a Sanskrit word ‘Sanskara’. It’s where we get our English word ‘Scar’. And every time we react to a situation, a scar is imprinted into our physiology. When you are in a heightened state of stress, these scars are like taking a metal crowbar and hacking it into a granite surface. A deep scar is formed that is going to take a lot of work, and money, to restore. You drop that cup of tea and you fall to the floor wailing, screaming at everyone “why me?” and have to be carried out of there, sedated and tucked into bed. And you then spend the next few days / weeks / months maybe years cringing about how you behaved.
As you continue to meditate, you’re not leaping into fight/flight as many times a day because you have a bank of adaption energy to draw on, so your reactions get less severe. You drop that cup of tea and you may swear, huff and puff as you clean it up and go back to your desk a little irked, yet within an hour you’re fine. You’re now running that crowbar through sand. It made a mark, yet it only took a few waves from the sea (or meditations) to make the sand smooth again. The day will come when you drop that tea, you laugh at your clumsiness, grab a cloth and mop it up. Make a new cuppa and you’re back at your desk as if nothing happened. You’re now running your crowbar through water. An imprint was made, yet the effect was gone almost instantly.
This is what regular, twice-a-day meditation will do for you.
One day, situations you once called ‘stressful’ will be like water off a duck's back...