IMPROVED WELLBEING THROUGH MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS
Stress is part of everyone’s life. A limited amount of stress is good; it spurs us on to perform better at whatever we’re doing. However, too much stress causes both mental and physical problems. It can cause high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart disease. It can exacerbate existing problems such as diabetes, obesity, insomnia, fatigue, digestive problems and much more. That’s why we all need to learn how to manage our stress and this can be achieved through meditation and mindfulness.
Meditation and mindfulness have been practiced for millennia in many cultures around the globe but it’s only in relatively recent times that these life restoring practices have been embraced by the Western world. Both meditation and mindfulness train us to focus our mind, while banishing negative thoughts from it.
Professor Mark Williams, a professor of clinical psychology at Oxford University and director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says “Over time, mindfulness brings about long-term changes in mood and levels of happiness and wellbeing. Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness not only prevents depression, but that it also positively affects the brain patterns underlying day-to-day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability, so that when they arise, they dissolve away again more easily.”
Scientifically Proven Health Benefits – remembering reducing stress is key
1. Anxiety and Depression
When we’re stressed we experience elevated levels of cortisol which in turn release cytokines which cause inflammation. Meditation and mindfulness have shown to significantly reduce this inflammation and so decrease the stress levels, which lead to depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
2. Metabolic Syndrome – overweight, high blood pressure, low HDL
Metabolic syndrome is a condition experienced by people who are at risk of contracting diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Clinical studies have shown that subjects experienced improvements to metabolic risk by practicing meditation, and this was without weight loss.
3. The Gut
The fact that our gut plays a vital role in keeping our immune system healthy and reducing inflammation in the body has become widely discussed in recent years. When we’re stressed, we can experience various digestive issues due to an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness assist in the prevention of negative changes in the microbiome.
It’s a fact that chronic stress increases your chance of experiencing most diseases, and cancer is no exception. Meditation and mindfulness not only help ward off cancer, they also help with fighting the disease should you be unfortunate enough to fall ill. These practices increase melatonin in the body, which is a hormone known to boost the immune system.
The practice of mindfulness and meditation both have a positive effect on every aspect of our health, both mental and physical. Training our minds to be in the present rather than dwelling in the past or wondering what tomorrow may bring, allows us to enjoy life as it happens. It’s long term effects promote happiness and contentment, which is everyone’s goal in life.