Meditation for Stress Relief – Is it Enough to Avoid Disease?

There is no doubt that meditation is an excellent way to achieve stress relief. 

But is that enough to ensure that chronic stress doesn't affect our immune systems and make us ill?

This is a very interesting question and one that doesn't have an easy answer. I would imagine that most serious meditators would argue strongly in favor of meditation as an antidote to stress, especially if it is a daily habit and not something you only do on the days when you are overstretched. If we were to look at this on a basic physiological level, then my guess is that we would see that meditation slows down the heart rate, it normalizes your blood pressure and allows the body to regain its equilibrium. Meditation also encourages your adrenal glands to produce less adrenalin and cortisol and so as a result your immune system improves.

So far so good. Meditation is certainly extremely helpful in achieving stress relief and I have no doubt that it helps in many other ways as well.

However I believe there is something more intrinsic in meditation that enables us to change our perception of life and reduce the stress before it has even happened.

Let me explain.

Several years ago I suffered a protracted period of chronic stress that was affecting the whole of my life including my health. I was forced to take 6 months sick leave to evaluate my life, and was able, during that time to make changes that changed my life forever.

I have never been the best meditator but have tried to spend some time each day sitting quietly concentrating on my breathing and allowing my thoughts to come and go. I have also tried to be aware of the need to be mindful in everything I do and to be aware of how I respond to others and to myself.

Whilst reading a book by Eckhart Tolle I learned about how we suffer at the hands of our egos. Eckhart Tolle in his book The New Earth talks about how the ego has a habit of sabotaging us. We hold on to ideas and thoughts that we have accumulated throughout our lives, many of which no longer serve us and many are simply not true. But we hold on to them out of fear because they identify who we are and to let go would mean losing our identity. So often these ego bound thoughts are what cause us the most stress. For example the belief that we have to do a particular thing because our parents told us we have to and not to would make us a lesser person in their eyes.

The ego is complex and not something we can banish from our lives in one easy session. It takes years of awareness of what is happening and how it is affecting our lives and causing us unnecessary stress, before we can begin to achieve lasting stress relief.

Meditation helps us to become aware of these ego driven traits and by training ourselves to live in the present moment they no longer feature in our lives. The ego is mind driven and lives in the past and in the future, there is no place for it in the present. So by practising mindfulness and living in the present moment we can control the ego and its negative effects on our lives

In my book "Is Stress Your Silent Killer?" I look at how my ego was sabotaging me and causing my stress and how I managed to begin to make the necessary changes to  make stress relief a reality in my life

stress relief

Comments

  1. I agree practising mindfulness and living in the present moment is one of the best ways to become aware of the effects of our ego mind. With awareness we have a choice to notice the exact thoughts and than begin some practice of changing them.

    • Absolutely Michael. It was quite a revelation for me when I eventually realised what I had been doing to cause my own stress and great to know that meditation can help to deal with the ego mind

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