Do you know what “Meditation” and “Mindfulness” mean?
“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body.
Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Does practicing mindfulness really work?
From personal experience I can tell you it does work.
Granted, if you had asked me this question several years ago I would have answered “I don’t really see the benefit. My mind wanders all over the place and I find it so boring.” But now that I a mom of two beautiful, healthy, and veeeeery active boys I can definitely appreciate the silence and the opportunity to ground myself, let go, and be present. It really makes a difference on how my day goes, my mood, overall in my life.
Beyond my experience the fact is, mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk to you about a few of them below.
What is the connection between mindfulness and health?
Did you know 75% to 90% of doctors' visits are due to stress?
Incredible, 75% to 90%.
So, if we find a way to reduce stress then we should be able to reduce health issues too, right?
The connection between mindfulness and health is reduced levels of stress.
Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. It sounds like practicing mindfulness would help you become a healthier version of yourself, doesn’t it?
For me it does, because all of these benefits can have very good positive effects on your physical and mental health.
Below, I'll be sharing some facts from studies done in three main areas: mood, weight, and gut health. But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is expanding.
Mindfulness for Weight
Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Index).
One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to reduced level of stress. Mindfulness can reduce stress and emotional overeating. It can also help reduce cravings and binge eating.
Another way it can work for weight is due to "mindful eating." Mindful eating is a "non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating." It's the practice of being more aware of food and the eating process. It's listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are. It's about being present, “in the moment” so basically eating without distractions. This means NO cell phone, laptop or work while eating your meal.
People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy dense foods. So, it seems that more mindful you are while eating the less junk you’ll consume.
Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight.
Mindfulness for Mood
The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is better mood.
In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that the mindfulness training was key to lowering symptoms.
Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression.
While mindfulness isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods.
Mindfulness for Gut Health
Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in your gut flora (your friendly bacteria and other microorganisms that help your digestion). In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut's flora.
Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut flora. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care.
The research here is just starting to show us the important connection between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help.
I just shared with you evidence from research studies that confirm some of the amazing health benefits the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation has for your mood, weight, gut health, and more.
I would love to hear from you. Do you regularly include mindfulness in your life? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, would you consider trying it?
Let me know in the comments below.
To enhance the benefits of mindfulness meditation even more, I’m sharing with you some Relaxing Herbal Teas ideas:
Try any of these by steeping in boiling water:
● Green tea (has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated green tea)
● White tea (also has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated white tea)
● Rooibos tea
● Peppermint tea (or steep fresh peppermint leaves)
● Ginger tea (or steep slices of real ginger)
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a touch of honey if desired.
Now that you have decided to start practicing mindfulness meditation or do more of I want to share with you some tools that can move you in the right direction.
BONUS Guided Meditation “Recipes” (videos, apps & podcasts)
How to Meditate video
How to Meditate in One Minute or Less Every Day video
Headspace App (free 10-day trial)
Daily Meditation Podcast
Hay House Meditations Podcast