When adversity strikes, meditation can be our best friend. Not as an escape, but as a secret weapon to fortify our minds and bodies, to create resilience and perspective. In his new book, The Gift of Adversity, world-renowned researcher, psychiatrist and author Dr. Norman Rosenthal tells us, "If you are unhappy with your life, consider changing it first from within. Meditation is a powerful tool for self-change, which often leads naturally to positive changes in those around you."
Here are three ways that an ancient meditation practice is helping people overcome adversity in modern life.
1. Mind Over Matter: Reversing the Stress Response
When we are under stress from crisis, disappointment, loss or sudden illness, our bodies react by flooding our nervous systems with stress hormones, making it harder to think clearly, sleep deeply or have the wherewithal to pick up the pieces. As a teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique, I meet many of my students for the first time when they are going through a difficult period and are looking for inner strength to overcome adversity.
One might think it would be difficult to sit and meditate while feeling troubled, but the beauty of a natural, effective mediation technique is that it allows the mind to shift, within seconds, to a state of calm and peace. Research has found that deep transcendence is accompanied by reduction of breath rate, slowing of metabolic rate1, decreased cortisol and plasma lactate2 and increased skin resistance are all indicators of deep relaxation.
How often I've witnessed meditators achieve a new calm and confidence to face their challenges. I see this especially with those fighting cancer. One of my students recently shared:
"During my MRI, I was told that for the 30 minutes of the procedure it was imperative that I not move a muscle. If you've ever had an MRI, you know what it sounds like -- as though the capsule is being bombed by some alien force. So, what did I do? I meditated. Without that skill, I honestly think I would've completely freaked out. With meditation, it was a piece of cake." (MORE)
Source: Huffington Post