Our mental muscle strengthens with daily exercise. Sitting for just 10 minutes a day will start to have an effect within a couple of weeks. Here is how it helps.
It reduces anxiety and tension
It has been proven that even a few minutes meditating every day can settle and calm both body and mind. A 2015 study conducted on student nurses described very significant stress reduction following regularly use of meditation and biofeedback.
It improves sleep
It is often our chattering mind that keep us tossing and turning at night.
Sleep is not something we do; so much as something we allow to happen, by giving permission to the thinking brain to switch off. There is increasing evidence that meditation and mindfulness in particular, can allow people to step back into what is known as the ‘observing self’, that detached part of your mind which is aware of being aware.
When you are in your observing self, you can allow thoughts to drift by like clouds rather than getting caught up in them.
It strengthens immunity
Following an eight-week study of mindfulness based meditation at the University of Wisconsin, there were demonstrable positive effects on both the brain and immune function of participants.
It calms inflammation
Inflammation is at the root of most diseases.
Inflammation begins the process of arteries clogging with cholesterol. More and more research programmes are showing that mind-body linked therapies like meditation, together with sensible diet and exercise, can have a significant effect on the underlying inflammatory processes which are at the root of many common illnesses.
It lowers blood pressure
It's no secret that stress raises blood pressure and, long-term, this can lead to heart disease and stroke too. One study in particular indicated regular mindfulness-based stress reduction reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure over an eight week period.
The evidence, then, is clear. Why would we choose to ignore it?
Meditation, mindfulness and mind management exercises like the STOP System are available to us all, have no nasty contra-indications or side-effects and, until someone finds a way of charging us for the air we breathe, are free. So why not give it a try?
Just getting going with mindfulness can be the hardest thing to do but there's no doubt that, if there's one thing you can do to dramatically reduce your chances of getting heart disease, taking ten minutes to STOP and be mindful is a really great starting point.