At the AMCC, we believe that healing comes from a set of factors inside the patient, including their mental capacity to cope with stress. This is why any self-respecting naturopath should mention meditation techniques to his patients, to give them the basic tools on how to manage their emotions.
What is Meditation?
It is an experience involving sensations and perceptions, but also an inner journey that awakens bodily memory and brings to know things about oneself that we did not know.
Not to mention yoga or certain prayers, with well-coded gestures, Zen, Tibetan or vipassana meditations are not always static. You learn meditative walking, for example. As for tai chi or qi gong, all in movement, they are qualified as “meditative practices” in all scientific publications. And the term could be applied to a number of martial arts, provided you practice them with the right mental posture. Because that is the key. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man who introduced meditation to Western medicine and author of Where You’re Going, You Are. Learn to meditate to free yourself from stress and deep tensions (I read, “Secret Adventure”, 2005). – by integrating it in 1979 into a stress reduction program – this mental posture is called “full consciousness. ”(Mindfulness).
It is the ability to consider everything that comes to consciousness – sensation, emotion, thought – being both completely present and detached, accepting everything without clinging, greed or aversion. Everything comes and goes, like clouds in the sky. We are in a posture of observation and tolerance vis-à-vis the impermanence of things. With this mental posture – and a little practice – meditation lends itself to almost any activity. As some wise men say, you can meditate while peeling vegetables!
What are its short and long term benefits?
The long-term benefits of meditation on the brain are only just beginning to be revealed by brain imaging, but seem very real, with years of practice, greater ability to concentrate and less neuronal degeneration.
For the past thirty years or so, numerous scientifically flawless studies, carried out in Western or Asian laboratories, have found very concrete virtues in meditation.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), by Jon Kabat-Zinn, has been shown to be effective against stress or agoraphobia with panic attacks. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which is inspired by it, halves the risk of depressive relapse. And the effects aren’t just psychological: that same MBSR program – a mix of yoga, Zen and vipassana meditation – also increases the level of antibodies in the blood. Evidence of physical benefits continues to accumulate, ranging from healing rheumatism to respiratory, digestive, neurological or even immune disorders, and globally covering all pathologies of stress.
The heart slows down, blood pressure drops, sweating decreases, salivation increases, digestion takes place. The effects of this parasympathetic activation are considerable, especially on the immune system.
Meditators empirically observe the benefits: fewer colds, flu, eczema. But we have also demonstrated, more scientifically, the effectiveness of yoga on asthma, for example, or qigong against certain allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune reactions. Of course, many of these benefits come from the relaxing aspect of all meditation. But meditation adds something to them.
If it is recommended against diseases linked to stress, it is because it acts in the heart of our most ancestral brain, the autonomic nervous system – the one that walks on its own and governs vegetative life, all these automatisms that we do not control. Specifically, meditating mobilizes the parasympathetic autonomic system, which is the source of calm, as opposed to the sympathetic system, which is responsible for stress.
American cardiologist Herbert Benson, who was one of the first Western researchers in the 1960s to test yogis and meditators, noted that they felt closer to each other than to practitioners. relaxation. They less often experienced states of sadness.
Believers admitted to feeling more in communion with their God, non-believers spoke of a feeling of connection with nature and with the universe, but all stressed the new importance they gave to the little things of life. life. More recently, observing the brains of seasoned meditators with CT scans, Professor Richard Davidson, of the University of Wisconsin, in the United States, found that they mainly used their left brain, which he had also shown to be linked to positive emotions.
Any Side Effects?
Cognitive therapies say the exact same thing: We are conditioned by our past and, if we disaccustom our brain circuits, we can put others in their place.
Teachers of active practices, such as tai chi or qigong, sometimes ask for a medical certificate, but it is more to protect themselves. Obviously, common sense plays: a cardiac will avoid energetic yoga. Hence the benefit of following a teacher’s advice. Psychologically, you have to be more careful.
In some fragile personalities, meditation can trigger outbursts of anxiety, decompensations, the feeling of no longer existing, of no longer knowing where the top and bottom are. It should be avoided in the event of a depressive or existential crisis: bereavement, divorce, unemployment … The feeling of emptiness that we sometimes know is not suitable for everyone. Some, finally, can cling to meditation like a drug, because it gives them comparable states. Or meditate to evacuate their problems: “My boss is harassing me, I will meditate and it will pass, I won’t think about it anymore. Whereas meditation aims, on the contrary, to free the mind to approach problems with a fresh eye, find solutions, and connect with others.
How To Practice Meditation?
It is best to start by practicing in a quiet place, in a place of meditation or in your living room, when you are not too stressed. However, you can train yourself to create calm in yourself anywhere. By trying to focus, for example, on your breath and the physical sensation that goes with it: the air in
your nostrils, your chest which inflates then deflates, your belly which follows the movement. Release your muscles – without slouching! Also relax your mind. If it doesn’t work, okay, it will work next time.
– In the subway, the bus, the train, with noise all around, if you can concentrate on your breathing, you will create calm in your mind. How? ‘Or’ What ? By competitive effect: the more you focus on your breathing, the less your mind is drawn to something else, the better you can concentrate … and calmness ensues.
– Also in your car, even if your brain takes care of driving, your sensations and your perceptions are completely blunted. The meditation will make you become aware of the vibrations of the engine through the steering wheel, of your breathing, of the air that caresses your face if the window is open, of the visual field that scrolls past you.
– At the office, you can relax for a moment and then become aware of the light, the color of the walls, the freshness of the air, the back of the armchair pressing between such and such a vertebra … You integrate, through your senses and your thought, the present moment, with its simple and richness that you tend to miss in your day-to-day life.
Meditation at Work
In Lindhlar’s excellent book Nature Cure (written in 1913!), the author explains how to relax at work:
Relaxation during labor requires planning and a system. Most nervous breakdowns are not so much the result of overwork as they are wasted vitality through lack of orderly procedures. Therefore, take the time to plan and organize your work and get into the habit of doing certain things that need to be done every day as closely as possible in the same way (making sure it is the right way) and at the same time. Such a tidy system will soon become usual and will save a lot of precious time and energy.
Always cultivate a serene and cheerful attitude of mind and soul, taking whatever comes in the course of the day’s work, doing your best under the circumstances, but absolutely refusing to worry about anything. Don’t cross a bridge until you get there, and don’t waste time regretting something that can’t be undone.
Relax while Sitting
From the same author (Lindhlar) we learn tips for relaxing in a seated position, which are practical for many of us who work in this way.
Sit upright in a comfortable chair without tension or tension, with your spine and head straight, your legs at right angles to the thighs (thechair should not be too high or too low), your feet resting firmly on the floor, toes pointing slightly outward, forearm resting lightly on legs with hands on knees. This must be accomplished effortlessly, for effort is synonymous with tension.
Dismiss all thoughts of rushing, caring, worrying, or fear and emphasizing the following thoughts:
“I am now completely relaxed in body and mind. I am receptive to the harmonious and life-giving vibrations of Nature – they dispel the discordant and destructive vibrations of haste, worry, fear and anger. New life, new health, new strength come into me with every breath, permeating my whole being. “
Repeat these thoughts mentally or, if it helps, say them aloud several times, calmly and forcefully, imprinting them deep into your inner consciousness.
After practicing relaxation in this manner, lie down for a few minutes of rest – if circumstances permit – or practice rhythmic breathing (more on that in Nature Cure). Then come back to your job and try to maintain a calm, confident and controlled attitude of mind.
If you are inclined to be irritable, suspicious, jealous, faulty, envious, etc., dwell on the following thought images:
“I am now completely relaxed, at rest and at peace. The world is an echo. If I send irritable, suspicious, hateful thought vibrations, the same will happen to me from other minds. I will think such thoughts no more. God is love, love is harmony, happiness, paradise. The more love I send, the more I am like God; and the more love God and men will return to me; that’s how I will achieve real happiness, real health, real strength and real success. “
This involves performing abdominal breaths: I breathe in through my nose, my stomach swells slightly, I breathe out through my mouth, my stomach contracts. Bellymovements are gentle and natural. The thorax hardly moves. It is the breath of relaxation. We speak of breath meditation when we add to this breath special attention to the breath. We focus our attention on the air that enters through our nose and comes out through our mouth, on our sensations. It only takes a few minutes to “bring back” the energy that was concentrated in our brain throughout our body.
Energy must be able to circulate freely and be made available to the hepatho-bilio-intestinal complex to enable it to perform its functions. In this sense, managing emotions is essential to the health of our liver and our overall health. It will be even more so in retracted profiles who already have a hepatic impairment and who are also sensitive to stress.
Nature Cure, by Henri Lindhlar
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