Feeling overwhelmed? Worried? Trouble sleeping, or run-down?
All these are symptoms of stress and it can affect people of all ages and arise in all circumstances. Dr. Mehmet Oz, the award-winning TV host and cardiothoracic surgeon, says, “Stress wears us down, drains from us the joys of life, fuels countless diseases and disorders, and is slowly or rapidly killing us. Cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, as well as digestive disorders, anxiety, and depression, are often caused or exacerbated by stress.”
We know a good night’s sleep can refresh our mind and body and make the day go better. Scientists have discovered that dreaming is also an important factor for creating balance. When individuals are deprived of dreaming, (REM) they become disoriented, depressed, crabby and quick-tempered. They eat more, are oversensitive, lack concentration and have memory loss. All signs of being more stressed. Clearly, deep sleep and dreaming are of vital importance to our well being and for counteracting stress.
There is another important tool for combating stresses which until the late 1960’s had never been looked at scientifically — meditation. Researchers at UCLA found that people practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) gained a unique state of consciousness they called restful alertness (a wakeful, hypometabolic state). The mental and physical correlates measured were completely different from waking, dreaming and sleeping. To date, more than 650 research studies have been completed on TM technique showing conclusively that with the experience of the state of restful alertness, stresses and strains are spontaneously dissolved and balance is naturally restored to the mind and body.
Not only this, the balance gained with the experience of restful alertness begins to overlap with waking, dreaming and sleeping. For example, sleep is deeper and more easily gained and the need to self medicate when awake decreases.
Life is inherently stressful. The powerful waves on the surface of the ocean may be huge and intimidating and yet just beneath this turbulence lays the profound stillness of the ocean depths. Likewise there exists, deep within each one of us, an ocean of peace and stability. Stress and fatigue blocks this experience and TM is a tool which helps us regain it. Dr. Oz and Oprah Winfrey had such profound experiences with Transcendental Meditation that they both offered it to their hard-working and stressed production staffs, with great results. Cardiologist and author Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum uses it clinically. She says, “When I treat stress with something like TM, I can get as much as 48-66 per cent improvement … It is the most efficacious way for us to treat one of the major risk factors of heart disease, which is stress.”
Millions of people around the world practice this simple, natural, effortless mental technique for 15 to 20 minutes twice a day to combat stress and gain inner peace. The David Lynch Foundation is currently promoting it to soldiers and African victims of war suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to victims of domestic violence and to Native Americans suffering from diabetes. All the groups are experiencing profoundly positive results.
Transcendental Meditation does not involve concentration, contemplation, breath control, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation or auto-suggestion nor is it a religion or a belief system and it requires no change in life style. All four states of consciousness including the state of restful alertness are important for maintaining a balanced and progressive life free from the debilitating effects of stress.
Potri Lightheart is a certified teacher of transcendental meditation on Vancouver Island North. email@example.com.