For me the word ‘mediation’ and ‘mindfulness’ have been a turn-off, for a long time I conjured up images of slightly condescending people asking me to take a deep breath and relax, always seeming to know better than I did about what was going on in the world. (Perhaps the do?)
Even after I started opening my mind to anything that might be able to move me away from illness and ‘un-wellness’ towards optimal well-being and performance. I still resisted anything to do with meditation or mindfulness.
That was until I found myself on military deployment in the desert talking with a SAS soldier, he showed me a video which changed my perspective on what mediation actually was which I will share with you at the end of this email.
I thought to myself… if this guy meditates… then so should I!
So I watched the video and gave it a go, during my deployment my unit was living in a small compound for 4-5months at a time (which I did twice over 2 years), given that there was an insurgency going on, there was nowhere to really go out to relax. So this became another reasons to try meditation.
During that time I became very aware of how my mental health and mood were being affected negatively and meditation seemed to give me an outlet and some relief from the day-to-day pressures of deployment.
Science has in fact shown that there are real health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation.
Before we dive in, first let’s just get clear on what “mindfulness” and “meditation” actually are:
“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.
“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.”
You can be mindful when you exercise, cook, garden, write etc, or you can do the full monty and try a still, eyes closed meditation practice.
If you ever walk into Witterings Fitness you will be met by a lovely group of non-judgmental members, who I would say on the whole, are quite a mindful bunch!
Because they are mindful, they are conscious of what it is like to complete your first fitness session, particularly if you haven't been in a gym before. They all know what it is like to walk into a gym for the first time. Let's face it, it is scary and can cause more stress!
There are a staggeringly huge amount of doctor visits due to stress. Stress causes inflammation in the body, and that subsequently causes health problems.
So, it makes a lot of sense that anything that can reduce stress can also reduce health issues.
Mindfulness reduces inflammation and the level of cortisol, a hormone released when the body is stressed and also improves sleep.
All good important stuff as far as your well-being is concerned!
The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood.
I know when I am in a better mood, I work much better and am a better partner.
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 programme 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.
Studies also show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Index).
How can this be?
As mentioned mindfulness is linked with reducing stress, which may also then reduce stress-related and emotional overeating.
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 are. It’s not allowing yourself to be distracted by other things while you’re eating, like what’s on TV or your smartphone.
People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. So it seems that more mindful eating = less junk.
Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight.
Positive improvements in gut health and a reduction in IBS symptoms have also been linked with mindfulness practices. Again this is likely due to the reduction in stress.
Science is confirming some amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation. For moods, weight, gut health, and more.
Do you regularly include it in your life?
If so, have you seen the benefits? Would you consider trying it?
Here is a video for you to watch, which is the one I mentioned was sent to me by the SAS soldier who changed my perception on meditation. I hope you enjoy it.
Leave a Reply.