As told to Bahar Etminan
By Rescu Podcast
AUSTRALIA’S MOST PROLIFIC MEDITATION EXPERT TIM BROWN EXPLAINS HOW THE PRACTICE IS THE CORNERSTONE OF REJUVENATION AND WHY WE SHOULD ALL ADD IT TO OUR AGELESS LIVING TOOL KIT
I was watching a TED Talk the other day by one of the world’s leading euroscientists who said someone living in a big city anywhere in the world in 2021 is being exposed to the same level of stimulus in one day that someone 200 years ago got over a lifetime. When I went to live and travel overseas in 1996, none of us had a mobile phone, no one had an email address, we were still sending postcards back to our parents. That was just 25 years ago – less than the blink of an eye in terms of human brain and nervous system development.
The third law of thermodynamics says that as you excite or overstimulate any system, it will naturally move towards the state of disorder and chaos. The opposite of that is also true: as you de-excite any system, it will naturally move towards a state of order. The qualities of an orderly neurophysiological state are clarity, creativity, energy, joyfulness, intelligence, and physical well-being.
But in these times, when our stimulus is off the charts, the accumulation of stress, tension and fatigue of the mind and body creates overstimulation, which moves us towards a state of disorder. This presents in our physical, mental, and emotional state as a lack of clarity, lack of energy, lack of creativity, lack of joy. And if unchecked and unaddressed, this state of disorder leads to accelerated ageing. I’m not necessarily talking about stress that’s from one big bad event. Accumulation of stress and there, $100 later. None of them feel like big transactions but then we get hit with this huge $5000 credit card bill, and it’s like ‘oh my god, this can’t be right!’.
Interestingly, it’s been very well-documented that the first three things the body will start to deactivate as stress, tension, fatigue gently builds in the mind and body like that gradual credit card debt are:
1. the digestive system, which starts to shut down
2. the reproductive system where hormone balancing deactivates and
3. the memory center of the brain.
This is because our nervous system has a hierarchy of needs when we’re in fight-or-flight mode. It focuses on the most critical things to stay alive: producing adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, antibacterial processes, and oxygenation of muscles. All of that’s very handy if you’re being chased by a bear but not so much if you’re just stressed out with work and the kids. Interestingly, 75-80 percent of all cancer presents in the digestive system, the reproductive system, and the memory center of the brain – the first three areas to bear the brunt if we’re in a state of disorder.
THE GOOD NEWS MEDITATION HAS A REAL AND MEASURABLE IMPACT ON YOUR BODY. HERE’S SOME OF THE WAYS
1. IT CALMS DIGESTION
Stress shuts down the digestive system, which becomes flushed with acid during the flight-or-fight response, and creates all kinds of issues like leaky gut, IBS, exacerbated allergies. This then shows up on our skin as things like eczema, psoriasis, and accelerated ageing, because our skin
2. IT MAKES YOUR SKIN GLOW
We all know that when someone gets a fright, they go white. This is because the body in flight-or-fight mode reduces blood flow to outer skin capillaries, so we don’t bleed to death if we’re injured. If we live with constant stress, tension and fatigue, the outer skin layers constantly miss out on nourishing blood flow, which causes accelerated skin ageing. You also start to see more conditions like psoriasis and eczema. We often notice when people start to meditate and relax, blood starts flowing properly to the outer capillaries and their skin has a rosy glow.
3. IT PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN
If you lock your body into a fight-or-flight loop for long enough, it has the effect of deactivating the memory centre of the brain. Today, we’re seeing enormous issues with increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementia. The opposite is stay-and-play, which we sometimes call the state of read-and-digest. When our mind and body is returned to a healthy, de-excited modality, it not only helps turn the digestive and reproductive systems back on, but also protects the memory centre.
4. IT MIMICS AND PROMOTES SLEEP
Our bodies don’t need sleep – they need rest and relaxation. In the type of meditation I practice, Vedic meditation, we can access states of relaxation five times deeper than sleep. That means 20 minutes Vedic meditation is equivalent to about 3-4 hours in bed. Meditate twice a day, and that means you’re getting 6-8 hours’ rest and relaxation before your head hits the pillow at night. It sounds far-fetched but I’ve had people who wear smartwatches learning to meditate with me who can see the data later showing what a profoundly deep state of rest and relaxation they went into during their practice. That’s why I call Vedic meditation the Formula One pitstop of meditation. It’s fast but profoundly helpful.
5. IT IMPROVES EVERY PART OF YOUR MIND AND BODY
One of transcendental meditation founder guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s famous sayings is, ‘Water the root and enjoy the fruit’. That means don’t try to water the apple, the leaf, the twig, and the branch. Just water the root, address the fundamentals, and it will nourish every other aspect. That’s the principle meditation is fundamentals, and it will nourish every other aspect. That’s the principle meditation is founded on: relax and settle the mind, relax the body, destress, and process, move from flight-and-fight to stay-and-play, then watch this incredible organism – the body – do what it’s designed to do.
TRUST ME, ANYONE CAN DO IT
I’ve taught over 6,000 people to meditate during the last 20 years. And it’s never too early – I taught my three kids who are now 15, 16 and 17, all to meditate at four years of age. I teach a lot of kids, as well as mums and dads, corporates, and creatives and elite sportspeople, including members of the Australian cricket team, professional golf players, tennis players and Olympians.
SO, WHERE TO START?
People are surprised to hear I love meditation apps. Yes, an in-person teacher is ideal, apps are an accessible place for people to start and get a taste of what’s possible. If it’s 3am and you can’t sleep, downloading something like Calm from the Appstore can really help. For adults I recommend Headspace, Insight Timer and of course, Calm. For children, Smiling Minds is wonderful. If you want to take the first step, start there. Then if you want to progress to the next layer and really establish a deep practice, then it’s time to get instruction.