Meditation may appear to be something that only the rich, famous or religious can do, but a new wave of research demonstrates that there are real, tangible health benefits if practised regularly.
Medical research across the world is beginning to awaken to the possibility that regular practise of meditation; relaxation and visualisation techniques can help to reduce the stress hormones in our blood that influence our long-term health and well-being.
A simple explanation of what causes stress is the work of our adrenal glands, which produce adrenalin when we feel under threat of attack. Most people will have heard about the fight or flight response, where a person finds that they are able to move away more quickly or discover new depths of strength when faced with danger. Itâ€™s a mechanism that has existed since the eons of time and has helped the human species survive.
However if a person perceives a threat, real or imagined, over a long period of time then the adrenal glands go into â€˜overdriveâ€™ and start producing Cortisol to maintain this high response state and this is where our problems can begin. One effect of Cortisol is that it can affect a part of the brain which makes it more difficult for us to recall information â€“ so if you find yourself wondering why you can never find your keys/glasses or the word your looking for â€“ donâ€™t just put it down to forgetfulness â€“ perhaps you are more stressed than you realise.
Lorraine Murray from Feel Good Therapies explains â€œ this is just one of the symptoms and it feels a bit like the filing clerk for all your thoughts has gone on holiday so nothing gets done. Another effect is insomnia or broken sleep patterns.â€
Lorraine has been working with different groups teaching meditation and visualisation techniques to help them find a way to deal with stress.
â€œIâ€™ve been working around schools in Edinburgh, mainly with teachers, and also at Maggieâ€™s Centre for Cancer. There is a gathering amount of evidence to suggest that the more we practice these techniques, our body responds by reducing the levels of Cortisol in our blood stream. It can be quite a self empowering step to learn these methods and many people find that it enables them to manage and accept change in their lives, often situations that are responsible for higher levels of stress.â€œ
So are we simply discovering something that the Yogis and Buddhists have known for years? It appears that these techniques donâ€™t require a religious following to benefit from the results. Lorraine has produced an information sheet that she is happy to email to anyone who wishes a copy. For more information â€“ please contact her at T 0131 337 1890 email@example.com or visit www.ilovefgt.com