How to Reduce Stress and Improve Health & Brain Function with this Ancient Practice Silent
Modern life is stressful and exhausting. It is imperative for people everywhere to press pause, slow down, take a moment to reboot, and focus on themselves. One method of improving your health and happiness is meditation, an ancient practice widely applauded for its health benefits, and its ability to reduce stress, and improve brain function and overall well-being.
Adora Winquist, author of the alternative medicine book “Detox, Nourish, Activate: Plant and Vibrational Medicine for Energy, Mood, and Love, meditation expert, modern alchemist, healer, and expert in the field of aromatherapy, recommends silent meditation.
“Silent meditation is one of the earliest forms of introspection, dating to at least 2500 years ago. Also known as “Vipassana”, this ancient form of meditation follows the “life pulse” through focus on the breath. Found in all of nature, this life pulse moves in waves of expansion, contraction, and stasis within us through the breath. When we invite this continuum of life to flow within our breath, we can expand our awareness to see and comprehend the perfect imperfection in all life including our own”, says Adora.
Adora goes on to explain that the expansive nature of our inhalation gathers the prana, the cosmic life force intertwining with the oxygen molecules from the cosmic and earthly realms. The contraction of our exhalation invites us to let go of what we no longer need to carry in life. The exhalation invites us to flow with greater alignment and peace and to ground and connect these molecules of life into our cells, our core, and to the earth. In the contraction, we are diving back into the depths of our being.
The health benefits of silent meditation are profound. This practice is said to have originated over 2500 years ago by Gotama Buddha and has been passed down in its purest form from teacher to teacher in India since then. This practice is designed to cleanse all mental impurities and deepen harmony between mind and body. This universal, non-dogmatic teaching offers a spiritual approach to understanding and accepting all facets of our humanity and fosters a balanced life focused on the tenets of love and compassion. It is through this practice we liberate our souls and cultivate a new calmness of mind and balanced emotions.
Current studies show a magnitude of health benefits ranging from bolstering immunity, to supporting brain health, cognitive function, and neuroplasticity. Meditation increases emotional resilience and increases focus and prolonged concentration. Meditation allows us to explore our emotional triggers and habitual responses. It is through this practice we can visualize healthier ways of thinking, feeling, and increased emotional resilience. When we allow our body and mind to quiet, we can untangle our thought patterns and renew mental clarity.
Spiritually, meditation allows our energy and auric field to easily align and ground with the Earth. It’s here that we can find stillness in the chaotic world around us. Physical and emotional benefits are plentiful. Meditation calms the mind and offers greater mental clarity. Harnessing our thoughts and emotions creates empowered decisions.
Silent meditation differs from other forms of meditation, in that although all meditation is silent to a degree, in Vipassana, there is no guide, no music, and no external sound. It means to “see things as they are”. It invites a deeper understanding and acceptance of life and allows us to focus on listening. The consistent cultivation of this practice invites us to explore and re-establish a deep sense of connection with ourselves to listen more attentively to our bodies, balance our emotional responses and calm our overactive minds. The approach differs and yet the end goal and results will be similar. This type of meditation has no visuals, no music, no external sound, and no guide other than your breath. There is also a very clear lineage of this tradition which lends a purity and energetic momentum to this meditation form.
Adora encourages you to find the type of meditation that suits you best. Just like we all enjoy different types of cuisine, music, and attire, there is a form of meditation that works for you. Be patient until you find what sets your mind and soul free.
For those that are easily distracted, sometimes guided meditation is a favorable choice, allowing the practitioner’s mind to follow the guide until they sink into deeper relaxation. If this is the case for you, starting with a consistent guided meditation practice and then peppering in some silent meditation could be the winning combination.
Adora shares her step-by-step guide:
Having a sacred space in which to consistently meditate creates a supportive structure for your practice. You can start by lighting a little incense or inhaling a pure essential oil to open your mind-body connection. Then start with 5 minutes daily of silent meditation. Invite in a calm and clear mind and focus on the inhaling for 10 seconds, pause in stillness, and then exhale for 10 seconds. When a thought enters your mind, allow it to be as it is without changing it. Just as each phase of your breath changes, every circumstance, and experience in life is impermanent. Bring your awareness back to your breath. Continue to work up to 20 minutes a day or longer up to 45 minutes.
Remember, be gentle with yourself. Don’t expect to comprehend the entire universe in the first week. Take enough time to create or break a habit before you decide if this works for you. Over several weeks, keep a journal of your impressions after meditation and daily in the evening before bed. Notice if you are responding to experiences differently from an emotional perspective, do you feel more clear and calm?
Adora recommends a meditation coach for perfecting the practice of silent meditation. A meditation coach, or even practicing meditation in a group setting can create the conditions for your practice, with confirmations on both the practical aspects of meditating and also some of the challenges that everyone faces in the beginning. Cultivating a consistent practice takes time, patience, and a deep commitment to your self-care and greater well-being.
Adora’s favorite method is guided meditations which include visualizations to facilitate your intention anchoring into the mind, body, and consciousness. Take a look at this weekly complimentary meditation in conjunction with the Barbara Brennan School of Healing.
Other resources for meditation include:
Dhamma.org. offers 10-day intensives on Vipassana meditation and these programs are complimentary. These techniques are passed down through a lineage of teachers dating back to Buddha 2500 years ago.