As humans, we relate to the world on a physical level through our bodies. Our bodies are the physical framework for who we are. They allow us to experience life on a sensual level, i.e., with our five senses. They allow us to relate to each other physically. But on their own, our bodies are just that, physical
substance, nothing more.
Our minds fuel our bodies in that they give our bodies instructions on what and how to operate. Our brains send our bodies messages through our various internal systems, informing us of both internal and external changes going on, and setting up responses accordingly through endless feedback loops. Our minds, working through our brains, hold our memories and create our stories for us, our stories of who we are in the world and what our place is in the world in relation to those around us. These stories are fueled by the information our minds gather. That is what our minds do. They gather more and more information, and they translate that information into language that fits our story - our story about limitation.
Our minds’ stories are about limitation unless we have access to our spirit. Our minds are very closely related to our physical being and to our brains. Our brains function hand in hand with our minds, and vice versa. But there are two sides to the brain, and unless and until we can access both sides of each, we
are living half a life.
Our spirit is the limitless part of who we are. It is the part that connects us to the divine, to God, to that which is bigger. It is the part which, when expressed through the mind, opens up endless possibilities to who we are and what we can do in the world. And it is available to us in every moment. How? Spirit, or the greater part of who we are, speaks to us through our right brain, which is the creative side of our brain, the side that sees the bigger picture and relates to a sense of connection with all life. In order to lead a life, then, that is informed not just by the mind but also by Spirit, or God, the most creative and wise part of who we are, we need to find ways to access information from our right brain, which is then translated through our left. How do we do that? Through meditation and
Numerous research studies support the benefits of regular meditation, from lowered stress levels/increased ability to handle stress to improved health, improved sleep, a better outlook on life, better concentration, decreased pain, better
relationships, a longer life, and much more. We see through these studies that meditation directly affects certain parts of the brain and nervous system, the cardiovascular system (lowered blood pressure) and the respiratory system (lower heart rate and improved breathing). Meditation reduces the activity of the
parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response to stress. It causes measurable changes (reduction in size) in the amygdala, a part of the brain that initiates the body's response to stress. This is significant when one considers that the five leading causes of death according to the Center for Disease Control (heart disease, cancer, strokes, accidents, and flu/pneumonia) are directly affected by stress. Beyond all that, though, studies indicate that people who meditate regularly are, in a nutshell, happier.
From a mind/body/spirit perspective, the reason meditation accomplishes all of this (and more) is because it accesses our right brain, our creative side and our connection to a greater wisdom, by whatever name we call it - the part that makes us a full human being, not just body, not just mind, not just spirit, but
all three together as a whole.
You don't have to sit in a lotus position and kill your back in order to meditate. All meditation really is is the ability to focus one's attention on the present moment, to be still, and to listen. There are numerous ways to meditate, numerous positions, numerous points of focus, and numerous traditions, but the bottom line is that through meditation, through being in the present moment, we are brought in touch with both our inner selves and that which is bigger than us, or God. Creativity does the same thing; when we are lost in a creative endeavor, we are 100% in the present moment. Creativity, then, is a form of meditation, and working creatively on something that feeds you will open communication between both sides of your brain just as well as meditation will, for some. Focused, conscious breathing, too, accomplishes the same thing.
Life is short enough as it is - we are meant to enjoy it now,
and we're designed to function at our highest when we do just that. If you haven't tried meditation, I highly recommend it. And if you're not interested in that, then just take some time to breathe and smell the flowers. Enjoying life around you in the moment will, for a second, take you out of your head and
its ruminations and put you smack where you belong - right here, right now. Your brain will thank you for it, and, in the end, your health will too.