Stress and nutrition
In his book Siddhartha, Herman Hesse talks about a place that all of us can visit: 'Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.' This haven is a place of safety and comfort, where you can sit and just be. In no way does it mull over the past or fret about the future. Neither does the turmoil of events in the current moment intrude
Meditation involves both your body and your mind. It is easy to understand the importance of physical relaxation, because we all get tired after exercise, work or other activities during the day. Physical rest, sitting down for a period, or our sleep each night - rejuvenates us. Deep physical relaxation is revitalising and detoxifying. However, your mental state or attitude is just as important
You enter a place where time is not measured and valued by the hour. Meditation can sweep the clutter from your mind - the constant chatter, jumping from subject to subject; the focus on your ego - trying to look good and avoiding looking bad; and the emotions coming from a story running in your head - lonely, angry, scared, guilty, proud or whatever
The big benefit of meditation is that it is an antidote to stress. Stress and imbalance are at the root of many degenerative diseases and aging. Simply by sitting still and doing nothing for a while each day, you give your mind a chance to withdraw from the stresses of daily life and explore its own innate powers. It boosts your immunity, and results in deep physical relaxation, a more relaxed posture, biochemical changes and detoxification both physically and psychologically. Meditation helps greatly with your ability to cope with the stresses and disappointments of life
Meditation is experiential - it is something you have to try for yourself to know the rich gifts it can bring. There is little value in reading about it and understanding it, unless you actually do it yourself
In every city there are meditation classes, for different types of meditation. If you find a class is not very helpful or inspiring, please try another, as both the teachers and the types of meditation vary considerably
Stress and nutrition
If you are starting meditation because you are stressed, there are two common nutritional deficiencies that you may need to correct to assist your physical body to cope with stress. While your mental and psychological state is a very important determinant in coping with stress, getting your body into a healthy and resilient condition is essential.
The first possible nutritional deficiency is of saturated fat, particularly fat from animal sources (which includes fish, dairy and birds). Here are details of the Grow Youthful diet including how to get sufficient saturated fats.
The second important deficiency may be of B vitamins, which are essential for mental and psychological health, in particular vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B3 (niacin). A good food source is unfortified nutritional yeast. Other food sources include grass-fed meat, fish and brewer's yeast. (2, 3, 4)
1. Holzel B.K., Carmody J., Vangel M., Congleton C., Yerramsetti S.M., Gard T., Lazar S.W.
Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.
Psychiatry Res. 2011 Jan 30;191(1):36-43.
2. Periyasamy S, John S, Padmavati R, et al. Association of Schizophrenia Risk With Disordered Niacin Metabolism in an Indian Genome-wide Association Study. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(10):1026-1034. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1335.
3. Thota V, Paravathaneni M, Konduru S, et al. Treatment of Refractory Lactic Acidosis With Thiamine Administration in a Nonalcoholic Patient. (July 08, 2021) Cureus 13(7): e16267. DOI 10.7759/cureus.16267.
4. Eniko Balogh, Andrea Toth, Gabor Mehes, Gyorgy Trencsenyi, Gyorgy Paragh and Viktoria Jeney. Hypoxia Triggers Osteochondrogenic Differentiation of Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells in an HIF-1 (Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1)-Dependent and Reactive Oxygen Species-Dependent Manner. 11 Apr 2019, doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA. 119.312509. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 39:1088-1099.