Unplug & Recharge//

Meditation

How to Give your Brain a Break

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Having heard the importance of meditation for optimal wellness of body, mind and spirit, I first tried it years ago. I didn’t have the know-how to suspend my thoughts for any period of time. Add in sitting in a lotus position and discomfort weighed in with my mental block. Then I was told half lotus would work as if I had no more excuses.  I tried again.  I failed again. My spine and mind weren’t having it.

Blue sky evaded me while I tried watching my thoughts float past me in cloud like fashion. My next version to attempt meditation was excited by a woman who led metaphysical workshops. She claimed people have evolved so much they could virtually mediate all the time. It was no longer necessary to sit uncomfortably and give up thoughts. What! This was my kind of meditation! So I held to my newly received belief. Since I was part of this advanced planet I could just put meditation into my multi-tasking spinner.  

Photo by Bill Williams on Unsplash

This was too good to be true, much too good to be true. I went about my overly multi-tasked life and didn’t think about meditation for years. Then I found myself struggling with waning energy and other pesky symptoms like insomnia and being able to sleep all night without waking in the night and staying awake, sometimes for hours. My digestion and blood sugar were grumpy. I was taking on auto-immunity. A nutritionist I engaged gave me a lot of nourishing guidance to turn back my signs and symptoms. Surprising to me at the time, it wasn’t all about what I should eat. She told me I needed to rest every day, twice a day for ten minutes to restore my depleted adrenals. The adrenals are the pair of endocrine glands which sit atop our kidneys. Since the adrenals secrete adrenaline, they are chiefly involved in energy creation for stress response.  My nutritionist told me to find a place I could find quiet and just close my eyes for ten minutes. She said it would be a vital piece to my restoration. Yeah right, I said, How is it that I am going to pull that off (just close my eyes for ten minutes twice a day)? Pull it off I did. You see, like me, when you want something (restoration in my case at that time) you will find a way.

Take a Brain Break:  In today’s modern busy life it is easy to get entirely caught up doing. Seldom do we stop doing and give ourselves a break. Even when we break for lunch we are either guiding conversation with colleagues or clients; or we are at our desk behind our devices. Our body, mind and spirit aren’t designed to withstand constant input of information and our need to respond to what’s coming at us all day long. Taking a ‘Brain Break’ to set up your day, during your day or to wind down at the end of your day nourishes your brain and body. The benefits of meditation are documented by science. Most importantly you will feel better when you give your brain and body consecutive minutes to recharge.

Here’s how I pulled off a twice daily ‘Brain Break’ in my high flying corporate career. When I was out of the office on customer calls, I arrived to a meeting ten minutes earlier. When I was in the office I closed my door and put a note outside that said. Please Do Not Disturb. At ten minutes time, I removed the note and cracked the door ajar. I never heard a complaint or think anyone even noticed. To my amazement, my productivity didn’t take a hit nor did life stop because I paused for ten minutes. Restoration of my body did happen and today daily meditation is something I find time for at least six out of seven days.

Photo by Jessica Weiller on Unsplash

What I later learned when I was in ‘Nutritionist School’ is the adrenals are fantastically responsible for cortisol release. When digestion and blood sugar regulation become stressed the adrenals jump in to aid these bodily functions and still release cortisol to aid the fight or flight stress response. The body was designed to release cortisol to shuttle blood away from organs and to aid the stress response. In ancient man, cortisol was released to fend off a life threatening emergency (think charging tiger or bear!). Few of us face life threatening emergencies. Instead we are nearly constantly releasing cortisol from our perception of stress. Our bodies don’t distinguish between the life threatening emergency, being delayed in traffic or the thousands of other stress events we encounter all day long.

Imagine the preemptive support you will give your brain and body by giving you a 15 minute Brain Break (aka meditation) every day will support healthy adrenal function and more. The adrenals are part of the endocrine (hormone) system. We need our adrenals to be strong so when there is a true emergency we can respond. We need our adrenals to aid in digestion when necessary. Women need healthy adrenals to take over the manufacture of estrogen, which at menopause is handed from the ovaries to the adrenals. Depleted adrenals contribute to menopause being a much bigger event than Mother Nature intended. Healthy cortisol regulation helps us sleep through the night. Adrenals aid blood pressure regulation. In addition to adrenals releasing adrenaline, they release cortisol and make aldosterone and androgens.  These tiny glands have big impact on our well being. 

Personalize how you find success meditating.  Some people will be called to sit in a lotus position and emit the OM sound while they are transported to cloud free blue sky. Others say focusing on the drip of a faucet or counting their breath helps them find inner thought free calm. I find meditation success feeling my heart beat, as if to go deeply inside myself. Thoughts still come. I forgive them and return to feeling my heart as soon as I notice the thoughts as thoughts. A cool benefit of mediation is great ideas come during my non negotiable 15 minutes of finding inner peace. Great ideas might otherwise be indistinguishable from the crowded thought field.

 

Photo by Nicole Harrington on Unsplash

You may not find carving out the time mid work day is best for you, but you may find early morning before others in your household are stirring will work for you. If the evening is what you’ve got for a 15 minute meditation window, then grab it. Try it every day for 21 days (the time it takes for new habits to set). Note how you feel and your thought experience. If something is nagging you like interrupted sleep or stress management, make note of that too. Then after three weeks consistent practice see how you’ve made a stride toward a new Wellness Groove that feels personally fantastic. You and your adrenals deserve to be loved more!

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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