Stress is an unavoidable part of life. But learning to manage it successfully can do much to improve your mental and physical health.
What is stress?
We all encounter stress in our lives, though we might use different examples to describe it. But whether the particular stressor you’re confronting is a sudden car crash, a loud argument, or the ache of arthritis, each potential or actual threat triggers a cascade of stress hormones that produce well-orchestrated physiological changes.
Proponents of mindfulness meditation have long thought that meditation can actually cause physical changes in the brain; as it turns out, they were right! Mindfulness meditation can, in fact, change the brain through neuroplasticity.
Jessica Cassity (n.d.) writes this about mindfulness meditation and neuroplasticity:
“With meditation, your brain is effectively being rewired: As your feelings and thoughts morph toward a more pleasant outlook your brain is also transforming, making this way of though...
One could speculate that this process opens up the possibility to reinvent yourself and move away from the status quo or to overcome past traumatic events that evoke anxiety and stress. Hardwired fear-based memories often lead to avoidance behaviors that can hold you back from living your life to the fullest.
Neuroscientist Sara Lazar, of Mass General and Harvard Medical School, started studying meditation by accident. She sustained running injuries training for the Boston Marathon, and her physical therapist told her to stretch.
So Lazar took up yoga.
Increasingly science agrees with the poetry of direct human experience: we are more than the atoms and molecules that make up our bodies, but beings of light as well. Biophotons are emitted by the human body, can be released through mental intention, and may modulate fundamental processes within cell-to-cell communication and DNA.