But then I purchased a book called Meditation for People who Worry too Much by author Anne Wilson Schaef. She writes about how we need to rethink our stance on meditation and look at the results that meditation could deliver (something I could experience for myself in less than 5 minutes) to get over my bad worry habit which often lead to anxiety. Subsequently, I started following Davidji, internationally recognized meditation expert, stress-management coach, corporate trainer and author of Secrets of Meditation, who meditates with his dog, Peaches - the Buddha Princess.
Why Meditation is Bad-Ass
Just as my journey of learning to control my mind began with understanding how the brain works, discovering the power of meditation began with me understanding the physiology of meditation.
What gives meditation its power is the parasympathetic nervous system. The autonomic functions in your body are divided into two parts – the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for hyping you up and dealing with the fight or flight response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “rest and digest” functions. It’s the counterbalancing force to fight or flight. Meditation is the tool by which you can learn to use that calming force at will.
Over Stimulation Kills
In a world of constant stimulation and demands; the constant multi-skilling, un-attainable work-life balance, the constant stress which often leads to anxiety; it eventually all builds up. And with time, even low levels of stress and anxiety intensifies and create a pervasive sense of restlessness.
Meditation is a Mini Vacation for your Mind
Specialized breath control is the key to activating the parasympathetic nervous system and making meditation work. I’m still blown away that the body has this secret key for tapping into one of the most pleasurable sensations the body has to offer – what the Zen masters call the “gap" state. It’s that deep sense of relaxation and renewal. You feel completely at ease, but still energized and creative.
Make it a Habit
With rare exception, I meditate every day. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before bed.
I can’t encourage you enough to make this a daily habit. I find that taking some time for myself daily; I’m able to weather even the craziest of storms. Regular meditation allows your brain to develop new pathways and turn down the reactivity worry grooves. The mind begins to experience itself without being overshadowed by anxious thoughts.
Engaging the parasympathetic nervous system is perhaps the most profound and immediately effective mind hacks that exist. Don’t fail to take advantage of it.
But another extraordinary mind hack is meditating with your dog. Dogs are natural meditators and I think for the most part, they live in the moment and don't feel guilty settling into a quiet state. The more time we spend in the gap, the more our body signals our brain to stop production of stress hormones, and to secrete calming hormones like endorphins and serotonin. Your dog naturally lowers the presence of the stress hormone cortisol. Studies also reveal that while petting your dog, you get a boost of oxytocin and prolactin, hormones that leave you feeling majorly blissed out. The act of touching your furry companion activates even more serene-fueling hormones, like dopamine. If you're always spiraling into a worry zone, study shows that pets allow you to stay plugged into the moment.
So meditating with your dog is exposing you to exactly what you need to feel at peace, releasing you of that constant worry and start living in the moment.
Watch for my new online program - Mediating with your Dog - coming out soon!