Mindfulness and meditation aren’t just good for your overall well-being — especially during the uncertainty of a pandemic — but they can have real health benefits, too.
Lowered blood pressure.
Not only does mindfulness significantly reduce stress-related blood pressure spikes, but according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, it also lowers inflammation that can contribute to long-term blood pressure elevations. Their study found that those who practiced mindfulness daily experienced blood pressure drops of up to 11 points in just two months’ time.
Powered up immunity.
Experts in the field of psychoneuroimmunology, which examines the connection between the immune system and the brain, have discovered that mindfulness amps up alpha brain waves to increase the body’s immune cell production. In fact, findings from a Spanish study reveal that people who engage in mindfulness regularly produce 68 percent more natural killer cells — immune cells that attack infectious invaders — than their less-mindful counterparts.
Mindfulness can prove more effective than morphine for easing lower back pain, notes physician James Dillard, M.D. Indeed, an eight-week study published in JAMA found that adults with chronic back pain who practiced mindfulness for
two hours a week reduced their pain by 44 percent — almost twice the improvement seen in people who used drug treatments.
Practicing mindfulness improves memory and mental focus by training the brain to release distractions that use up its resources. So say authors of a study published in Scientific Reports, who determined that engaging in mindful breathing for 10 minutes a day, four times a week, improved a key marker of brain efficiency (how much activity the brain generates to complete a task) by 88 percent within eight weeks. This also helps the brain stay young.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Kindfulness (Buy on Amazon, $12.99).