Cortisol is a hormone you produce in your pancreas. It’s part of a suite of hormones you make whenever you encounter stress. You make it, because it has benefits. During emotionally charged situations (life or death) you need a faster heart rate, you need some more glucose in your blood, and your brain needs to be prepared to memorize how you got in this situation so you can avoid it next time. Cortisol does this to help. It also turns down some of the resource heavy systems that aren’t helpful during hazardous encounters, like digestion and your immune system. Cortisol does this to help, when you ask it to.
Wait… I don’t speak pancreas. How do I ask it to?
Same way you squeeze your ass cheeks… you just think about it. Go ahead… squeeze your butt right now. The brain communicates with your glutes and your pancreas in the same way. At first you have to think really hard, keep it tight, keep it turned on. With enough practice you can eventually just squat and use the maximum strength in those ass cheeks without even thinking about engaging them. It gets wired into your reflexes. Did you ever think to flex your cortisol muscle? You know, just pump a little more of that stress hormone out. Come on, you can do it. Just think about your flabby arms, your fat ass, your frustrating person, job, or life. Think about all that is wrong. It’s better if it’s out of your control too so you can maximize the victim mindset. A lion isn’t scary until it’s in front of you. Your problems aren’t scary until you put them in front of you. Now, with enough practice you can eventually just wake up and use the maximum strength of your pancreas without even trying. Chronically elevated cortisol (focusing on thorns, instead of roses) increases your risk for…
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
Meditation is the reset. Disconnecting thoughts from emotional (chemical) responses.
Whoa! Haha, not for me. I can’t meditate… I can’t sit still. I can’t quiet my mind. I can’t stop thinking. My brain is different. My brain is too scary. I don’t have time for that shit. I tried it before and it didn’t work. I just fall asleep… yep, I’m a special snowflake. No meditation for me.
This is a muscle that requires building. Why do you always write with the same hand? Because you haven’t tried to use your other one. Go ahead and try to write your name with your non-dominant hand. Now do it 28 times every day for a year (5 minutes) and agree with me that it wouldn’t be very awkward after those 10,000 attempts. You get out what you put in. You will struggle and feel the most lost in the beginning. Eventually, it will feel comfortable and in time, intuitive. You can learn new movement patterns.
Meditation is a language that requires learning. Why don’t you speak French? Seriously, give me your best attempt at describing the room you’re in using only French. Uhhh… we!? Now look up 28 french words a day, speak and write them out (5 minutes) every day for a year and agree with me that it wouldn’t be very awkward after those 10,000 attempts. You get out what you put in. You will struggle and feel the most lost in the beginning. Eventually, it will feel comfortable and in time, intuitive. You can learn new language patterns.
Meditation is the movement pattern of your focus.
Meditation is the language pattern of your internal dialogue.
You already use them both, every second of every waking minute.
If you’re resistant to the idea, take 5 minutes a day and attempt to focus on a neutral sensation like breathing. Sit or stand, eyes closed or open, you will figure out what works best for you.
Watch your chest rise and fall. Feel the air moving in and out. When you notice that you started thinking about anything other than your breath, start again. The average thoughts per minute is 35-48 so you aren’t special or broken if you can’t focus on your breath for more than 2 seconds. You are normal. You don’t speak French or write with both hands, but you could if you practiced. If you can notice 27 of those non-breath thoughts each minute and return your focus muscle to the neutral breathing then you will collect 10,000 reps in a year. 5 minutes a day, watch your breath. Learn to speak the language of presence.
If you’re not resistant, do 30 minutes, but keep in mind that 5 minutes will still get you 10,000. Everyone learns new languages and new movement patterns at different speeds. Stick to yours. We also have different levels of environmental support or lack. If your life is too chaotic to meditate, you need it most. Even two intentional breaths an hour will get you 28 a day. So focus on your breath while you’re straggling it out of someone else.
If the stick up your ass remains fully intact and you will promptly dismiss all of the above. You can also workout, laugh, listen to music, get a massage, and increase your vitamin C to decrease your Cortisol. They are effective distractions, not sustainable solutions. Ignore your mind and you are swimming upstream… best keep those arms pumping or you’ll get swept away.