“The quieter the mind the louder the life.”
– Matshona Dhliwayo
Achieving a state of inner-silence through mindfulness practices will turn your life up to 11! Inner-silence is relaxation to the point where your mind is free from thoughts and emotions. It will allow you to overcome life’s challenges and has been proven to enrich your life in more ways than you think. Regaining trust in your body again starts by breaking down the life-limiting boundaries that stress and pain create. It allows for enhanced neuroplasticity within your brain which will improve your working memory, attentional focus and cognitive flexibility. Sustained accountability to daily mindfulness practice will optimise your health and wellbeing by boosting your immune function and may help to reduce your risks of developing a stack of chronic illnesses – osteoporosis, arthritis, type-2 diabetes, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, dementia, chronic pain and sleep disorders to name just a few. Have I got your attention yet?
Mindfulness is the idea of learning how to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of your thoughts and feelings without distraction or judgment. The exact origin of mindfulness is unknown though evidence of it’s use in early Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and yoga exists. The modern-day popularisation of mindfulness has been spurred along by recent research that proved the amazing biological benefits of its practice. You may be aware of some of the apps like Headspace, Calm and Smiling Mind. These apps have been designed to guide people through meditations and breathing techniques which allow people to access these benefits. They can be immediate and long-term but what’s even better is that the more you do it the more you get out of it. It’s like having your own fountain of youth which you can access whenever you need it. By fountain of youth, yes, I do mean that you can decrease your biological aging by diving headfirst into a regular mindfulness practice. It enables your body to unplug itself from the constant stimulation of modern life which seemingly is becoming more and more stressful than ever before – hello 2020.
The benefits of mindfulness have been measured at a biomolecular, neurotrophic, epigenetic and DNA gene expression level. There have also been benefits measured via MRI and an ECG. Oh… and people who practice it have also say it goes alright as well. What I’m saying is that there is a stack of contemporary evidence for this ancient practice. Here are my top 3 reasons to get around mindfulness practice.
Reduce Your Stress Levels
You may not be aware that stress in our body releases a hormone called cortisol – commonly known as the stress hormone. It works as a potent anti-inflammatory. Our body uses inflammation as a mechanism to heal. In fact, each night our body’s inflammation levels increase as a result of our cortisol levels decreasing. This allows for a nightly tune-up. When we need to be on guard for potential threats – aka during daylight if you think back to the cavemen – we haven’t got time to heal! Hence the release of cortisol to inflammation. Now modern humans don’t need to be on guard for predatorial animals during daylight. Although, we have do have a bucket load more stress placed on our system due to the modern way of living. Having consistently high-stress levels will there affect how your body functions. Your body will start to lose its ability to respond to stressors. This can lead to anxiety and depression disorders. It will also cause your body to become less responsive to cortisol. This means your body’s natural anti-inflammatory will be less effective. Studies have shown that regular mindfulness practice will reduce your cortisol – aka your stress levels – by 56%! This means that with an acute injury or flare-up, mindfulness practice will assist your body into a restorative healing state. More importantly, mindfulness practice will lower the risk of your body developing a resistance to cortisol. If you’ve had an ongoing niggle in one of your joints or if you have a chronic disease that causes excessive inflammation – arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, type-2 diabetes and even some cancers – it will help increase your body’s ability to utilise cortisol for its anti-inflammatory properties. Now you know why there has been such a buzz around mindfulness practice!
Reduce Your Pain Sensitivity
Sweet, so I just told you how reducing your stress will reduce your inflammation which will reduce your pain. This is just one of many ways your pain sensitivity can be reduced by mindfulness practice. Firstly you need to understand that pain is not a message sent to the brain from your knee, back or whatever. The emotion of pain is actually output from the brain. Your pain experience is the result of a complex interplay between a heap of factors that can adjust your pain sensitivity dial. Basically what I’m saying is your pain experience is not as simple as you think.
When we are in pain we generally are sitting in this state of fight or flight. Our brain doesn’t have time to critically interrupt messages that are being sent to it. It enters threat mode and focuses on survival. This is why sometimes a small niggle from your lower back can be amplified into a full-blown 20/10 pain experience. Mindfulness practice helps will guide your body away from a fight or flight response to a more relaxed state. This improves your brain’s cognitive flexibility allowing you to focus on the present moment. This means your 10/10 pain experience could be critically interpreted as a much less intense 3/10. You will be able to respond more favourably to stressful or negative situations.
This pain sensitivity dial can be adjusted by a heap of factors, however, the quality of your sleep is a huge player. I’m sure you’ve noticed how when you haven’t had a restful sleep you feel more pain the next day. Regular mindfulness practice will increase your deep restorative sleep by 218%!
Improve Your Wellbeing
This is another feeling which can be measured accurately by hormones in your blood. Prolactin is the hormone at play this time and it is very versatile. It’s involved in neuroplasticity, neuroprotection, emotional wellbeing and the body’s stress response.
Neuroplasticity is how our brain adapts and learns. Studies have shown that mindfulness practice will boost the amount of grey matter within your brain. It has also shown to improve your attention, focus and also your working memory. Generally, you will feel less fatigued at the end of the day and you’ll be more productive if you practice mindfulness.
Improving your neuroprotection means you’ll reduce your risk of developing a bunch of neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia. One of the ways you will help protect your nervous system is through achieving a state of deep sleep called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. As I mentioned earlier, you have a 218% increased chance of achieving this with regular mindfulness practice.
An interesting fact is that 30-40% of people suffering from a long-standing painful niggle will have depression. Regular mindfulness practise will improve your wellbeing by up to 50%. Increasing your wellbeing will help to improve your quality of life and ultimately allow you to trust your body again.
The Bottom Line
Some people pay thousands of dollars to improve their productivity and reduce their body from the effects of aging. In effect, practicing mindfulness will give you time… the ultimate commodity. What’s great is that it’s free! This is why finding your inner silence will turn your life up to 11! You will regain trust in your body again which will allow you to live life without boundaries and unlock your true potential.