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Can mindfulness practice boost your immune system?
I read a research article recently that suggested this link. The study was a literature review that looked at 20 randomized controlled trials. All the trials looked at mindfulness based practices and immune markers in the body.
The results suggested that mindfulness based practices may:
1. Decrease the expression of NF-KB. This is a molecule in your body that's a precursor to the inflammatory response.
2. Decrease C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a molecule that is pretty routine to check for when doctors are looking for signs of inflammation. CRP is high in a lot of common inflammatory processes. Things like infection and flare-ups of inflammatory bowel disease can increase CRP levels.
3. Increase telomerase activity. Telomerase is an "anti-aging" enzyme in your body. Increased activity of telomerase is a good thing.
How amazing is that? Not only can meditation calm your mind, but it can affect your physical body too! These results suggest that mindfulness meditation can boost your immunity. When your immune system is strong, you're less prone to infections and illness.
So, what's mindfulness?
It's being present to the moment without judgement.
How do you practice mindfulness?
There are SO many ways to practice mindfulness! Here are a few examples:
1. Set a timer on your phone to go off 3x/day. When the timer goes off, pause whatever you're doing. Take a breath. And, look around. Take a moment to observe what's going on in the moment. What's going on in your body? Your breath? Your surroundings? Let go of any judgement that comes up in your mind about it. Simply observe.
2. Go for a walk. Thich Nhat Hanh says "walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet." What a beautiful description of mindful walking! When you walk, be aware of each step. Notice how your foot feels as it touches the earth. How is this different if you're walking on the city sidewalks, or suburban gravel trails?
3. Meditate. Meditation helps you practice bringing your awareness back to a focus point. In mindfulness meditation, your focus point is the present moment. The first session on my new guided meditation series is on being present. If you're new to meditation, following a guided meditation like this one is a great place to start!*
So, I'm curious to hear from you! Were you aware of this connection between mindfulness and your immunity? Are you surprised by this finding? Do you already practice mindfulness in your daily life? If not, are you interested in trying it based on this study? Leave a comment below and let me know!
*Use this link for a free 7-day trial of the Simple Habit App. Note: This is an affiliate link, which means I may receive compensation if you buy something using this link.