Right Relaxation… probably tougher for New Yorkers than most people.
Sure the city is fast paced, sure work can be anxiety producing, sure we might not be getting enough sleep… but that’s the case for everyone so what’s the big deal?
Well, the big deal is, that by living in a state of almost constant stress — even just a very low base line of stress — we keep our systems flooded with the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol contributes to a plethora of chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, weight gain, and all sorts of auto-immune disorders including arthritis and chronic pain. You can read more about how cortisol works and its effects here.
The good news is more and more research is coming out showing the direct impact relaxation and meditation have on overall stress levels, and how these practices reduce cortisol levels. Here’s a great article from UC Davis about their research project, and another from Psychology Today that talks about the effects of simple meditation on our overall health and wellbeing.
So… where to begin?
Well – the good folks over at the Chopra Center have created a great little “playlist” of guided meditations on subjects ranging from empowerment to letting go of pain, to gratitude, to awakening creativity. Some are as short as 4 minutes, and others as long as 20 minutes. This is a great way to begin to invite meditation into your life if you haven’t already… just pick one, press play, and listen. That’s it. Just listen. You can be sitting or lying down, on the floor, in a chair or even in your bed! And for those that have an established meditation practice, there might be one or two gems in here for you as well…
It might feel weird at first, taking time out of your busy day to just sit still and listen when you could be doing laundry/paying bills/running errands/working… the list goes on and on, I know! But, bottom line is, the impacts on health and wellbeing are vast, which has implications for all areas of our lives. Give it a try… Even five minutes a day counts.