Mindfulness: Where Science Meets Meaning — Part 2
Dear Longevity Insider,
Relax and take a breather.You deserve it. You see, when we slow down, we can cultivate more awareness in our lives.
And in my book, The Longevity Equation, I offer a couple of methods to explore:
Mindfulness meditation: Mindfulness is your ability to be entirely present and aware of where you are and what you’re doing — without being overly reactive to the things happening around you or becoming overwhelmed. Over time, practicing mindfulness meditation not only increases your awareness when you’re sitting alone quietly but also while doing every-day tasks. It can bring clarity to your life and increase the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, like serotonin. (Bajnath, p. 155)
Breathing: Alternate nostril breathing is an extremely simple yoga breath control practice. This technique is beneficial for reducing stress, relaxing the body, and promoting overall vitality. The best part is it only takes minutes to do. Research shows that this simple technique can help lower your blood pressure levels, improve respiratory function, support your nervous system, reduce anxiety, and relax the body and mind. Alternate nostril breathing is a fantastic way to kickstart your day with a boost of vitality. Here’s how it works:
- Step 1: Sit comfortably on the ground with your legs crossed or in a chair
- Step 2: Take your pointer and middle fingers and place them on your forehead right between your eyebrows
- Step 3: Place your thumb gently on your right nostril to form a seal and breath in through your left nostril
- Step 4: With your thumb still covering your right nostril, breath out through your left nostril
- Step 5: Now switch your thumb to your left nostril and inhale through your right nostril
- Step 6: Finally, exhale through your right nostril
- Repeat steps 3-6 for 5-10 minutes. (Bajnath, pp. 118-119)
More gifts in being present
In addition to the emotional benefits, mindfulness has a physical effects on the body as well!
It was reported in The Annals of Family Medicine in 2012 that meditation can have preventive effects on your immune system. Researchers showed that mindfulness meditation is about as effective as exercise in reducing acute respiratory illness.
In 2011, researchers revealed that after only four days of mindfulness meditation training, participants reduced the unpleasantness of pain by 57% and reduced the pain-intensity by 40%. They also suggested that meditation has the capacity to “modulate brain regions associated with constructing the pain experience.” In other words, it could actually alter the way we perceive pain!
Massachusetts General Hospital found that in only 8 weeks, mindfulness meditation training can change the structure of the brain! They state that, “The results suggest that participation in [Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction] is associated with changes in gray matter concentration in brain regions involved in learning and memory processes, emotion regulation, self-referential processing, and perspective-taking.”
This is where we connect
It’s clear that mindful awareness has the potential to powerfully impact our lives. In fact, it is in this space that important life decisions are made. If you’ve realized that you would like to ensure that you live a long healthy life, I want to share something improtant with you.
I've made longevity my life's mission. And here's my most prized longevity research.
To your longevity,
Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ