Mindfulness and Meditation...Do They Really Work?
This week I wanted to talk to you about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. They are health buzzwords nowadays. Everyone, even those who aren't health practitioners, tout the amazing effects of being mindful and practicing meditation.
But just because it’s popular doesn’t mean you should do it...or does it?
As a Health Coach, I recommend it. This post gives you the lowdown on why it may be something you should start (or do more of).
And I bet you can't wait to see what kind of "recipe" I have for you on mindfulness and meditation, can you? You know I always offer some goodies at the end of my blogs. Not to worry, if you are new to this practice, there are some treats for you at the end as well.
No cheating and skipping ahead though! HAHA!
Mindfulness and Meditation...Do They Really Work?
Well...yes, they do really work. The fact is, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation.
Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.”
“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.”
Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post.
The link between mindfulness and health = stress reduction
Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors' visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent! This is just crazy and quite frankly sad.
So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too.
Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. All of these can have massive effects on your physical and mental health.
I'll briefly go over the research in three main areas: mood, weight, and gut health. But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is branching into many other exciting new areas too.
Mindfulness for mood
The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood.
In one study, people who practiced an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who practiced a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that 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 it isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods. As a lady of a certain age, well, let's just say mood is huge! LOL!
Mindfulness for weight
Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indexes).
How can this be?
One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to stress-reduction. Mindfulness can reduce stress-related 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 "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 not allowing yourself to be distracted with 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. Win, win!!
Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight.
Mindfulness for gut health
Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in gut microbes (your friendly bacteria and other critters that help your digestion). In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut's microbes.
Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut microbes. 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 link between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help.
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 benefits? If not, would you consider trying it?
I personally practice mindfulness during my quiet time in prayer as well as a few other nifty tricks that I teach in my coaching programs. Please let me know if you would like more information on mindfulness practices to better your health.
As always, I hope you find this information helpful and applicable. Your health is important to me. Please let me know if you ever have any questions or concerns about anything you read in my blogs. I am here for you!
Have a wonderful week!
Here are some great recipes to try!
Recipe (Relaxing Teas): Relaxing Herbal Teas
There are many relaxing herbal teas that would be great after meditation.
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.
I told you I had some goodies waiting just for you at the end of this blog! Check out these amazing tips, tricks, and apps.
BONUS Guided Meditation “Recipes” (videos, apps & podcasts)
How to Meditate video
How to Meditate in One Minute or Less Everyday video
Headspace App (free 10-day trial)
Daily Meditation Podcast
Hay House Meditations Podcast
Of course, I have also added several amazing resources for your reading pleasure also.