The Effect of Meditation on Inflammation
What do meditation and inflammation have in common? Besides the fact that they rhyme, not a lot at all.
Meditation, defined as, “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment”, is a powerful tool that can help reduce our stress, support our mind's thought process and help to reduce inflammation in the body.1
Did you know that inflammation is the body’s first line of defence against injury? When we have long-term inflammation in our body, our susceptibility towards developing several health conditions can increase.
Stress, Anxiety and Inflammation
To fully understand the benefits behind meditation, we must first look at one of the main reasons most of us turn to meditation: stress reduction.
Our adrenal system performs various functions, including producing our stress hormone, cortisol2. While cortisol gets a bad rap, it is essential for keeping us alive and out of harm’s way. Without any cortisol, cave dwellers wouldn’t have run from tigers, and hipsters wouldn’t run from gluten. Cortisol helps control our blood sugar levels, regulates our metabolism and assists with memory formation. However, sustained chronic levels of high cortisol send our bodies into overdrive and heighten inflammation, leading to a weakened immune system and poor digestive health.
Reducing Inflammation Through Meditation
Make some room for our go-to mindfulness friend, Meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a tool that cultivates mindfulness in an otherwise chaotic world and is associated with a decline in pro-inflammatory processes that would typically cause our cells to age.3
Meditation helps us slow down and turn off our fight-or-flight response. It offers many beneficial benefits, including causing our biological markers of inflammation to drop, cortisol to decline and slowing down our heart rate.4 It enhances clear thinking, focus, presence and mindfulness.
How to start meditating
Meditation experts say practising meditation for a few minutes daily can have profound effects on your biology and mental clarity. At all Swisse Wellness offices around the world, all teams are invited to practise mindfulness and meditation for up to 20 minutes from 3:00pm.
When you meditate, you slow down and move into a state of relaxation, allowing your mind and body time to rest. There are many different meditation styles. Not sure which one is right for you? Here are our 5 favourites.
Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for 2-5 minutes every day. You can also try a variety of guided meditation methods through apps. The time is now. It’s time to add a new daily practise into your lifestyle and routine.
1 Kabat-Zinn J. Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology-Science and Practice. 2003;10(2):144–156
2 Braun & Cohen, 2007
4 (Daniella K. Villalba, et al., 2019 Mindfulness training and low-grade systemic inflammation in stressed community adults: Evidence from two randomized controlled trials