Monday, April 23, 2012

Meditation And The Nervous System

One of the most important systems in the body is the nervous system, which is also called the control center of the body. It contains the brain which directs and supports almost all the functions of the body: voluntary and involuntary ones. Voluntary responses are those which we can control. This includes walking, motion of the hands, speaking, and the like. Involuntary responses include breathing, beating of the heart, digestion, sweating, blinking, some reflexes, and other movements that are not under our control. And because the involuntary nervous system or the autonomic nervous system is usually the one being affected the most by stress, depression and other fatigue related problems, experts have thought of the use of meditation as a solution.

Mediation is the state of being concentrated on something, someone, or on an experience. It allows a person to point his or her attention into a single thought. But why is it said to be a way to regulate the work of the nervous system?

First, let us divide and study the nervous system into two parts: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is the one responsible for mobilizing the body's actions. It produces a response called fight or flight when the person is experiencing stress. Fight or flight responses include increase in the heart and breathing rate of a person, and also the narrowing of the blood vessels and tightening of the muscles.

On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system creates a response which we refer to as rest and digest response when a person is under stress. The response of the parasympathetic nervous system is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system. In here, slowing down of the heart and breathing rate occurs, as well as the dilation of the blood vessels, which improves the flow of the blood into the body.

Meditation, according to experts, works in such a way that it reduces the work of the sympathetic nervous system and encourages or energizes the work of the parasympathetic nervous system. We all know that this in turn will result to enhanced breathing and flow of the blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to different parts of the body.

There a lot of meditation types. Some of which are those we do occasionally and some even everyday, but in general they are being recognized or categorized as meditation. Some of these practices include thinking, daydreaming, optimism, and praying. These only shows that meditation is not something hard to do, in fact, everybody could be engaged in it.

Meditation is not exactly a challenge, if you put your mind to it. Sometimes, we just have to be aware of how it is done and the benefits it could do to us. We don't have to be engaged in intense meditation to achieve its effects, all we have to do is have some time for ourselves and focus our mind on something positive. Being positive and repeating affirmations in our life could also help.

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