Meditation: Keep Your Body And Brain In Check
There is constant two-way communication between your body and your brain. Do you remember a time when you thought of something that terrible and you had a "sinking feeling" in your stomach area soon after? This is a representation of the kind of communication that goes on between your brain and your body. And it is happening all of the time! Meditation can help relax your mind and train your body to relax and help your brain/mind to be clear.
Recent research has found that not only does your brain communicate with your cells, but your cells also communicate with your brain and with other parts of your body. In fact, scientists have recently discovered that we think with not only our brains but our bodies as well. Meditation also helps us to understand out brain and relax our minds, thus reducing the impacts of stress on the body and the mind.
Here is an interesting fact for consideration: Your mind is not just a part of your body, but your body is also a part of your brain. What?! Mind blown!! Many scientists are now starting to believe that we are actually a "bodybrain".You can communicate with your body and brain through meditation. A key part of your body's incredible communication system involves your cells' receptors. This means every cell in your body can have millions of receptors on its face, and each cell has perhaps seventy different types of receptors.
While researching the benefits of meditation I discovered that in the early 1970s, Candace Pert, Ph.D., was the first scientist to prove the existence of these receptors with her own discovery of the opiate receptor. These receptor molecules float on the cell's oily outer part of the membrane and have roots that can reach deep inside the cell. I believe that Dr. Pert likely practiced meditation a lot as she wrote her wonderful book The Molecules of Emotion. Dr. Pert says that "the life of a cell, what it is up to at any moment, is determined by which receptors are on its surface, and whether those receptors are occupied by ligands or not.
A ligand is described as a small molecule that will bind itself to a cellular receptor. There are three chemical types of ligands – neurotransmitters, steroids, and the ones that we are most interested in at this time, peptides. According to Dr. Pert, as many as 95 percent of all ligands may be peptides.
The receptors and their ligands have come to be seen as "information molecules'- the basic units of a language that are used by cells throughout the organism to communicate across systems such as the endocrine, neurological, gastrointestinal, and even the immune system."
It’s All Connected
Our body and our brain work together to keep us healthy, protect us, and experience a more fulfilling life. Oftentimes though, in the hustle and bustle of living, we don’t take the time to really connect with what our body and even our brain is telling us. Mindfulness helps us to bridge the gap and keep us connected to our current self and supports our evolution to our best selves.
Take some time today to notice how your mind and body are connected. Really focus on the different sensations you experience through each of your senses, the thoughts they trigger and the impact on your body, mood and emotions. It is a remarkable thing to take stock of the impact of the mind-body connection.
Our brains play a major role in our physical, mental and emotional health. When our neurons aren’t firing correctly it has a tremendous impact on us – brain fog, decreased mental clarity, less mental energy and even less physical energy. I’m almost certain we’ve all experienced at least one of these things listed.
It’s so important to make sure that your body and your brain are receiving the fuel that they need to keep you sharp, focused and in motion. It is important to be conscious of what you consume, not just diet wise but also through your ears and eyes. Meditation supports bringing your mind and body back into alignment and a healthy state.
Not sure how to meditate or what to meditate on? Here is a simple meditation routine from our friends at Mindful. Beyond this, you can also research YouTube videos to support a meditation practice and establish a routine.
A Simple Meditation Practice
- Sit comfortably. Find a spot that gives you a stable, solid, comfortable seat.
- Notice what your legs are doing. If on a cushion, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. If on a chair, rest the bottoms of your feet on the floor.
- Straighten your upper body—but don’t stiffen. Your spine has natural curvature. Let it be there.
- Notice what your arms are doing. Situate your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs wherever it feels most natural.
- Soften your gaze. Drop your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently downward. It’s not necessary to close your eyes. You can simply let what appears before your eyes be there without focusing on it.
- Feel your breath. Bring your attention to the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or your chest.
- Notice when your mind wanders from your breath. Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.
- Be kind about your wandering mind. You may find your mind wandering constantly—that’s normal, too. Instead of wrestling with your thoughts, practice observing them without reacting. Just sit and pay attention. As hard as it is to maintain, that’s all there is. Come back to your breath over and over again, without judgment or expectation.
- When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
Ahhhh... now both the brain and body are relaxed. Now, there is more to consider.
Not getting the nutrients that you need in your diet can lead to experiencing things like low mood, lack of energy, inability to focus and having a hard time with mental recall. So, it’s important to have a diet that is rich with fruits, vegetables and other whole foods and grains. However, if you find that diet and meditation alone are not supporting your brain in performing at the optimal level that you desire, talk with your doctor about perhaps supplementing with a vitamin designed to support boosting your brain power.
You can also begin your research on brain boosters by following this link.
Cheers to your health!