I have a lot on my plate. In finding balance between work, family, art making, marketing, recreation and personal development endeavors, I am often asked how I can possibly have enough energy to do all the things that I do. One of the key tools that I use, apart from exercise a great diet and plenty of rest, is meditation.
One might wonder how using the best way to focus and calm the mind, meditation, can be such a highly effective solution for increased energy, but alas. It works!
Two things that set us, as humans, apart from prehistoric humans are changes in the brain’s Amygdala and the Prefrontal Cortex. The former (Amygdala) can be thought of as one’s “fear center,” while the Prefrontal Cortex area of the brain is the orchestrator of thoughts. People who still allow themselves to be dominated by their Amygdala are not as resilient during stressful times, ad people who enable their Prefrontal Cortex of reasoning to take control. Amygdala-ruled brains result in people with fewer stores of energy.
Simply put, meditation upgrades the Prefrontal Cortex while deactivating the Amygdala.
Multiple studies suggest that people who meditate regularly have large, strong Prefrontal Cortexes, with calm Amygdalae. This is because people who meditate live with fewer worries, less anxiety and less stress than people who do not meditate on a regular basis. It also boosts two critical chemicals, GH (growth hormone) and DHEA.
DHEA is best known for providing an increased sense of well being. However, DHEA supplements can have unpleasant side effects. Furthermore, it doesn’t work for everyone, and those who do take it sometimes notice a decrease in energy.
Growth Hormone is an important chemical for reducing fatigue and for putting a spark in one’s motivation. This is the chemical that makes one taller and stronger during puberty. As we age, however, the body produces less GH and DHEA. However, this is not a problem for people who meditate regularly.
Meditation also helps one sleep better. It works by boosting melatonin production about almost 98%! Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep compound. Extra production of this compound enables people who meditate to sleep more soundly and to wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized, and to have more energy.
Meditators also produce less cortisol. This is a chemical that zaps energy and keeps stressed out people in a state of stress. It also leads to excess stomach fat. An interesting study conducted by Rutgers University found that meditation reduced cortisol in the body by as much as 50%!
Earlier, I mentioned temporary energy boosters, such as stimulants, which also have negative side effects. Coffee, energy drinks and so forth, only provide temporary solutions to fatigue. They always have an energy crash afterward, leaving consumers feeling exhausted.
While physical exercise is definitely a way to up your energy levels, meditation works on the brain and body in very similar and (many would argue) even better ways.
For instance, long distance runners’ are addicted to their sport for good reason, because running causes the brain to produce endorphins. These chemicals provide a powerful energy boost as well as a wonderful kind of mental euphoria that has appropriately been named “runner’s high”. However, meditation does the same thing…only better. The highs provided by meditation simply can’t be duplicated. Meditation lays the foundation for a calm, focused, higher level of mind that stimulants simply cannot touch. Toss out your energy drink. Pickup meditation. You’ll be glad you did.