The problem: Stress and indigestion
When we get anxious or stressed, we release lots of stress chemicals and hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline and glucocorticoids. The result of their release is physiological change across the board, designed to ensure that non-essential functions shut down to save precious energy.
We stop salivating, and the mouth goes dry. Our stomach grinds to a halt, contractions stop and enzymes and digestive acids are no longer secreted. Our small intestines stop the peristaltic flow of movement along the conveyor belt of nutritional extraction, and as a result, nothing is absorbed.
Meanwhile, the large intestines are desperately trying to get us to unload all our unwanted waste to make our sprint across the savannah a bit lighter of load. The entire machinery of our digestive factories has been shut down.
Once the stress has calmed down, the whole system kicks into gear, and the factory starts to grind into action again, but like any factory, it’s not simply a case of flicking a switch. It takes time to get up to full operational capacity, and quite often it gets switched off before it gets there due to yet another moment of tension.
Stress will also cause our nervous system to be too revved up, and consequently we may find ourselves eating too fast and not chewing thoroughly enough. Chewing is pivotal to the initial breakdown process.
It breaks the food down into manageable pieces for the stomach to then mechanically bash the food into our stomach walls for further break down (before chemical dissolution). It also imbues our mouthfuls with amylase – a digestive enzyme contained within our saliva, which is the first step to a smooth digestive process.
It is a bit like when we want to remove old wallpaper, the first thing we do if we want a job that won’t tax us, is to spray the wallpaper with water to soften it up ready for breakdown. It is the same with amylase.
But when we eat too fast because we are too adrenalised, or nervous, we miss out on this vital step, and our digestion will be too taxed to cope. When you need to know how to relieve indigestion, preventing stress is often the answer.
How can Vedic meditation help to cure indigestion?
Meditation works at all levels to aid the digestive process, making it one of the most effective natural remedies for indigestion.
First of all, it quiets the frequency and intensity of the stress response so that our digestion is not subject to such volatile functioning. It also works to even out any wonky programming that may have become habituated in our digestive rhythms.
Vedic meditation will also ensure that just the right amount of parasympathetic activation occurs in our nervous system so that the stomach releases all of the right digestive fluids to break down our food and that we produce plenty of saliva containing lots of juicy amylase.
It will also serve to calm us down so that we are neither nervous nor too adrenalised, so that we take the time to enjoy our food more, chewing properly and swallowing only when the amylase mediated initial phase of digestion is completed.
Meditation also helps us very quickly become more in tune with our body, and we find ourselves stopping munching away when we’ve eaten sufficiently, as opposed to being a gluttonous wolf! Often, our compulsive eating habits are like putting too many logs onto a fire: when we do this, the fire becomes suffocated and begins to die down without burning through the fuel. It is exactly the same with our digestive fire.
Another bonus I’ve experienced is that for years I’ve suffered from chronic indigestion and heart burn for which I was always popping pills and swigging Gaviscon. But this seems to have almost disappeared since starting meditation. Which is just incredible.
Adam, Sound Engineer, Brighton