I’m seeing the benefits already as it’s a very useful tool to clear my head, get things into perspective and really relax. A big plus is the energy I find it gives me, it’s like having an amazing nap but in 20 minutes.
Matt, banker, London
Modern living takes a toll
As we go about living our active, modern lives, we are exposed to so many stimuli that we often find ourselves subject to a chronic level of excitation within the nervous system. Put simply, our minds are drastically over-stimulated.
The result is a muddled, narrower range of thinking, short-sighted decision making, reactive behaviours and the dulling of our sensory capabilities.
We all know the drill: we are sitting at our desks trying to quickly write this email but instead of writing it in the ten minutes that it should take, we find that our brains are too foggy to focus, we are constantly losing track of our thoughts, revisiting yesterday’s events or rehearsing tomorrow’s.
What we really want is to find the off-switch to all this mental noise, so we can focus on what is relevant.
Too much stimulation of the nervous system causes stress - and the stress hormone cortisol kills brain cells and leads to cognitive decline.
There is a class of stress steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, produced in the adrenal cortex, which may save your life when faced with a tiger but which will slowly wreak havoc when too frequently let loose. One of their many destructive features is the shrinking of the hippocampus, the area of our brain responsible for consolidating information, storing and accessing memories, and spatial awareness.
The more the amygdala is fired, the more our behaviour is clouded by previous emotional responses. Clear thinking and rational reactions become difficult when under strain. We are less perceptive of the needs of ourselves and the people around us and therefore our relationships are not as fulfilling as they could be.
Stress also causes our vision to narrow and our colour spectrum to become less defined. As a result, we may way think we are seeing the full picture, but in actual fact, we are only seeing, hearing and feeling a small fraction of the full spectrum information. Many of the nuances and peripheries are lost.
For example, a recent study compared our current ability to discern colour spectrums to that of those in the mid-1960s. The result was profound: we are 80% less able to discern colour differentiation when compared with those generations who came before us.
How can Vedic meditation help?
With Vedic meditation, our mind, body and nervous system are able to rest to profound levels. Our body’s innate intelligence is able to recognise the imbalances within our systems and begin to correct any distortions. Our nervous system is able to break through the over-stimulated programming we all experience.
We begin to settle down to a more harmonised way of being, not just during the meditation, but throughout our day.
Our mind is able to build new, more intelligent, inter-neuronal pathways that begin to free us from negative patterns and tendencies and the nervous system becomes cleansed of all our toxic memories and emotions.
Our levels of cortisol and other key stress chemicals fall. Our production of happy hormones increases. Our vagus nerve, so essential to keeping us calm and relaxed, is more regularly stimulated which means we are much more resistant to unnecessary stress, and our recovery times are much faster.
When we process our stresses and achieve more integrated states of brainwave coherence, we become free to perceive more clearly and expansively. It is almost as if we buy ourselves a couple of extra seconds in which to have more thinking and reaction time.
As a result, clarity and calm begin to imbue our everyday lives.
We are able to respond appropriately to the challenges of life, with accuracy and a fuller understanding of the dynamics at play. We are better able to absorb and process everything we experience.
Colours seem more vibrant, music seems richer and our sense of taste is greatly enhanced so that food tastes better. Our experience of nature becomes more joyful, people become more interesting to us, and our ability to see through problems and challenges is greatly enhanced by the higher cognitive functions that results from this practise.
In short, our sense of clarity and perception becomes greatly enlivened by such full spectrum awareness, and we find ourselves spontaneously more present.