Brain on MeditationWhen we experience stress, our breath becomes shallow, our immune system shuts down, our digestion and reproductive systems turn off, our heart rate increases, our blood pressure rises, our blood gets thicker and sticky. All of this and more happens within seconds without our control.

This is the job of the sympathetic nervous system, to help us deal with threat. The sympathetic response of fight/flight/freeze is essential when faced with a real physical danger. The problem, however, is that in today’s busy world we are dealing with an overwhelming barage of continuous stressors, from traffic, to work deadlines, to relationships, to politics, to environmental concerns, to our own repetitive worried, anxious, fearful thoughts.

The brain doesn’t know the difference between a real threat and a perceived threat. Even a worried, frightened, or angry thought can activate the sympathetic nervous system to begin its cascade of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, to prepare the body for danger. With a constant supply of external and internal

(mental) stressful stimuli, many of us are experiencing chronic stress, which takes a toll on our bodies.

Science is even telling us that stress is the precursor to 85% of all diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, auto-immune diease, diabetes, and many more.

The parasympathetic system is the part of our nervous system that brings the body into a state of balance, harmony and ease. When we are relaxed, happy, calm, and at ease our breathing is smoother and deeper, our heart rate slows, our blood pressure lowers, our blood thins to flow more smoothly, and our digestive, reproductive and immune systems are able to function optimally.

We cannot control the beating of our hearts, or other systems in our body at will. The breath, however, is the only autonomic nervous system function that we can control and alter. So, by simply lengthening and deepening the breath, we inform the parasympathic nervous system that we are relaxed and peaceful, and all of other systems of the body respond in kind by releasing dopamine and seratonin (the feel good hormones) which bring us into a state of rest/digest/healing.

Since our breath and our thoughts are the two things we can control, and since they effect all of the systems in the body, learning how to control them are the keys to optimum mental and physical health. If that’s why you’re here, to optimize your health and well being. You’re in the right place! Experience the immediate and long term benefits of lengthening the breath, slowing the stream of thoughts, and bringing more peace and health into your body, mind and life.