In my last blog, I used two specific people--the Dalai Lama and Congressman Tim Ryan--to demonstrate the positive power of meditation. Today I describe two major studies that show how we can benefit from the use of meditative approaches. Researchers at Harvard Medical School report that long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation had many more disease-fighting genes than individuals who did not practice any form of relaxation. These genes protect us from pain, infertility, high blood pressure, and even rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, the meditative state of relaxation is linked to higher levels of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. According to the publication, Psychology Today, research also shows that when meditators shift their brain activity from the stress-prone right frontal portion of the brain to the calmer, left frontal portion of the brain, a decrease in the negative effects of stress, depression, and anxiety occur. Additionally, there is less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.
Each meditates every day. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people, who imparts a message of universal responsibility, love,compassion, and kindness to people throughout the world. Central to this perspective is the Tibetan holistic approach to health, which involves diet, behavior, prescription of medicine, and contemplative (meditative) practices. In 1989 he was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. You can learn more about this remarkable individual and his teachings/writings by visiting www.dalailamafoundation.org
Early in November 2012, the Los Angeles city council unanimously approved a resolution recommending city residents not eat meat on Mondays. This Meatless Monday campaign started internationally in 2003. The Los Angeles effort is associated with Johns Hopkins University’s public health school.
As mentioned elsewhere on this website, my writings feature a holistic perspective. I’ve included many mental and emotional exercises in Grow Up Your Ego, but today I’m thinking about the numerous ways we can exercise our bodies. While we all know that walking is a low impact and simple exercise, we tend to forget the profound health benefits it provides. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking lowers blood pressure, helps manage weight, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk or manages Type II diabetes, and improves one’s mood. To obtain maximum health benefits, one should walk 30 to 60 minutes a day most days of the week. It’s best to warm up by walking slowly the first five minutes. Walking slowly the last five minutes of the walk is recommended as well. If you aren’t a regular walker, at first only walk as far as is comfortable, for example 5 to 10 minutes. Then gradually build up to 15 minutes, and so on. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of walking is that it can be done with others, which includes walking with one’s children. When I’m walking the trails close to where I live, I frequently observe parents who either have infants cradled in back packs or who are pushing them in strollers.