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The 21st century is the era of development and advancements, with innovations taking place at every corner. The miraculous mind is working hard day and night to build a better future. With the increasing updates every day, our mind often sets back and becomes a victim of stress. Just like every other machine needs rest, our mind functions in a similar way, but to cope up with the competition and the dynamic life we often ignore this factor pushing down our efficiency and inviting stress.
Office today has become more stressful than ever, barely giving an employee any time for his personal work. The huge workload and decreasing deadline pressure add to the stress and anxiety. The lives won’t become any easy until we fix our minds and restore them to their natural patterns.
How does one restore their natural mind process and eliminate stress? One can do that by taking some time out from their burdened life and closing eyes to let the mind wander freely for some time. Yoga and meditation help with the mind’s function and productivity by getting better control over the thoughts and breathing. Ancient Yoga and meditation were believed to be a disciplinary practice to control the fluctuations of the mind. Yoga regulates the overall bodily functions whereas Meditation helps take in charge of the thought process and creating new efficient pathways for the brain to move on.
“Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind and soul.”
– Amit Ray
Sympathetic Nervous system prepares our body to fight from the stress by sending messages to internal muscles, organs and hormonal glands. This response of the body is responsible for the actual ‘stress’ that we feel through increased heart rate, anxiety, and nervousness due to the excessive release of the cortisol hormone.
The parasympathetic nervous system on the other hand is activated to counterbalance the effects of the sympathetic nervous system by calming down the body and regulating the breathing pattern.
Meditation helps our body balance the two states of the nervous system and transfer to the latter one. By controlling our breath and looking inside of us, it becomes easy for us to shift our response to the parasympathetic nervous system and calm ourselves down. Meditation is based on the studies of human psychology and how little things like breathing patterns are linked to our mental activities.
Living by the motto, ‘One thing at a time’ can help our brain concentrate on one task efficiently rather than working on 10 tasks at a time. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of our thoughts and consciousness without letting any thought go unattended. Mindfulness techniques help train the mind to focus deeply by increasing our attention span. Meditation helps us explore our mind, walk through the nooks and crannies and capture every image so that we get familiar with the working of our mind and the thought processes.
Today, most of the people lack this ability and often let their minds become a puppet to stress. Yoga retreats in Nepal and other destinations is an escape for the mind to drift away from the regular life and venture into workings of our minds.
Chanting during meditation helps boost our mind functions and builds emotional resilience by producing strong vibrations and pure energy vibes in the body. Mind involved in awareness, attention, and self-thinking increases our gray matter around the prefrontal cortex. Meditation might not help with cognitive functions, but it does promote a long term benefit by sharpening our memory and better emotion processing. MRIs have shown thickening in the hippocampus region of Buddhist Meditators that is responsible for long term memory.
Becoming aware of our ‘shadow’ qualities can help us identify our weak spots, locations of tension and the remedy protocols - this means learning where we hold our psychological and emotional energy.
Yoga Nidra meditation accompanied by breathing exercises helps uplift the body and mind by releasing dopamine which is a key neurotransmitter responsible for the ‘happy feelings’. Studies have found out that meditation also regulates the flow of melatonin and serotonin which are responsible for sleep and waking up. These hormones contribute to our well-being by helping one feel calm and contended.
Serotonin and dopamine play a crucial role in easing the symptoms of depression and stress by uplifting a good mood. These chemical and hormonal changes caused by Meditation not only provide happiness but also stimulate the immune system and other body functions that we are unaware of.
We all are aware of the benefits of Yoga be it physical or mental. Yoga asanas help transform our tensed body into a physically fit form and deep breathing can help shape our mental state but if we closely look at the meaning of this Sanskrit word ‘Yoga’, it generally means to ‘unite.’ The practice of Yoga helps us work on the ability to combine the dualities and allowing them to function harmoniously in one direction. One cannot experience happiness until he has experienced sadness. In a similar fashion when we realize that unification of two polar entities are the fundamental basis of life we tend to find the equilibrium. Living in an integrated way would make our work lives effortless too and living on the equilibrium and balancing the scales would be ‘peanuts.’ Keeping in mind the complications of life it’s not easy to maintain the balance, but Yoga and meditation can definitely help us move close to the goal.