The idea that sitting in quiet contemplation can improve your physical health sounds like so much new-age mysticism.
However, science now confirms what yogis throughout the ages have long known — meditation can improve every aspect of your wellbeing, including boosting your immunity.
How does this mysterious process work? It sounds far less fantastical and much more common sense when you break it down.
Read on for a closer look at how meditation boosts your immunity, and why you should start your meditation practice and begin reaping the benefits today.
Meditation empowers better choices
Many people today recognise their lifestyle choices have much to do with their overall health. Breaking free of a habit is hard, but small daily decisions impact your body by forming behavioral patterns.
The problem is you may remain unaware of your actions in the hubbub of daily life — and you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.
Meditation raises awareness of unhealthy practices that influence your chances of getting sick. It does so in a gentle, non-confrontational way.
There’s no nagging boss or spouse demanding you change your habits. It’s your own deep wisdom welling up from inside, reminding you, “If you love yourself, you’ll make healthier eating choices, exercise a little and get adequate sleep.” These behaviors all boost immune function.
A simple way to begin your practice is with a Naikan meditation, practiced by many Buddhist monks before sleep. Give yourself a few silent minutes to contemplate your answers to the following questions:
- What have I received or learned today?
- What have I given or taught today?
- What can I do better tomorrow?
Experienced meditators can sit for 30 minutes or more, but you don’t need that much time. One to two minutes is fine as a starting point, and developing your practice from there.
Meditation lowers cortisol levels
To understand health, you must first grasp the concept of homeostasis.
It’s perhaps best described as having all your body’s chemicals working like Baby Bear’s chair — just right. Having too little of a necessary hormone is harmful, but so is having too much. Maintaining the ideal balance is the trick.
This rule applies to cortisol — a stress hormone many people in the modern world have in excess. The right amount promotes the healing inflammation that occurs after injury or illness to help you recover.
However, when this system remains under constant pressure from micromanaging supervisors, too little pay checks and too many bills, it goes into overdrive, causing trouble.
As a result of having too much cortisol, your immune system becomes resistant to its effects. The accumulation of stress hormones and the pro-inflammatory molecules they produce in your body creates a vicious cycle, slowly destroying your ability to fight disease.
Recent research confirms meditation decreases cortisol levels. As this stress hormone dissipates, your immune system has time to recover. Your body gradually returns to homeostasis over weeks and months of practice without adverse side effects.
Meditation helps your body use vitamin D
Meditation is a self-care technique anyone can do daily. It’s free, requires no physical ability and takes only minutes. However, if you want to supercharge your results, you might want to take your practice outside for the magic of vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays an important role in immune function. It’s actually a hormone your body produces with adequate sun exposure. Deficiency is associated with an increased risk of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Researchers believe vitamin D metabolites kick your innate immune response into gear, providing the first line of defence against bacteria and viruses.
However, meditation might make it even more effective. Researchers recently investigated the effects of vitamin D supplementation and mindfulness meditation on disabling chronic pain and neuropathy. While both the meditation and supplement-only groups showed benefits, those that combined the two protocols significantly reduced their pain and related disability.
Perhaps the best thing you can do to prepare for an upcoming cold and flu season is to spend a few minutes meditating daily in a sunny spot.
Try meditation to boost your immunity
It seems kooky that sitting in silent meditation can boost your immunity.
However, science now confirms what mystics and yogis have long suspected. After all, these practices haven’t survived for millennia without good, solid health reasons.
Now that you understand how the magic works, it’s time to let meditation boost your immunity. A few minutes per day might be all you need to stay healthier.