Meditation & Gut Health.
How Are They Related?
When you think of meditation you probably don’t associate it with better digestion and gut health. I know I didn’t until I learned just how much chronic stress influences our gut health and just how powerful meditation is for decreasing stress.
What Does Evolution Have To Do With Healthy Digestion?
Issues like leaky gut often come from living a high-stress lifestyle. Most of us are under a lot of stress in today’s world. When you’re feeling anxious or rushed, your body goes into fight or flight. This is a survival mechanism that’s been with us since long before our frontal lobes developed. Back when we had to struggle just to survive, fight-flight -freeze was useful, but nowadays we don’t have to fight off predators and run for our lives (at least not often). This response to external stress kicks in anytime something triggers our stress response.
When your body is in fight or flight it isn’t able to direct much energy towards proper digestion. The food we take in when we’re in a hurry, working, or worried just sits in our guts until we’ve calmed down enough to initiate digestion. But a person’s still gotta eat and that’s where things get tricky. If you want healthy digestion, more energy, clear skin and a calm nervous system, meditation is the answer.
How Meditation Helps Our Digestion
Overtime, developing a meditation practice can help you to decrease stress and regulate the fight-flight-freeze & delight response. The nervous system and the gut are inextricably linked. Humans were never designed to be stressed out all the time, and when we learn to calm our nervous systems our health improves dramatically.
It’s important to remember that there are a lot of different ways to meditate. For many, taking time to scan their horizon and soften their gaze onto a point of interest will be the most accessible. For others, it will be a process like: tuning into the breath, observing or naming the thoughts that arise, letting those thoughts go, and then once again returning to the breath. What ever technique or strategy works best for you in the moment is always the right one… although you’ll likely adjust and refine “what’s best for you” over time. As your stress levels lower and your nervous system regulates, your digestion will improve and you’ll have more energy for doing the things in life that bring you joy.
Find Time For Five
We all have five minutes to spare. It’s just five minutes. Maybe you subtract it from the time you spend on social media or the time you spend watching TV. You can like snag a quick five-minute break at work or take five at lunch. Schedule it into your calendar each and every day. Set an alarm. Whatever it takes to pause and breathe…
It is always easy to come up with reasons why we “can’t find the time.” But have you ever considered that taking the time to breathe can make all of those other moments feel less frantic and more productive. They may even feel more meaningful and soulfully satisfying. But most importantly, taking a little bit of time to attend to yourself can go a long ways towards shifting your physiology and supporting that lovely internal ecosystem that resides within your gut.
Four Easy Ways to Incorporate Meditation Into Your Life
- Take a few minutes in the morning or evening to watch the Sunrise and/or Sunset. Soak in the beauty, drink in the calm, and let your soften out onto the horizon.
- Give yourself 5-10 minutes a day to sit down in a quiet comfortable place and focus on your breath. A little bit of quiet each day can go a long way.
- Take a few. Take a few seconds or minutes before your eat or sip your cup of tea to take in the smells, the temperature, and the moment. You might even add in a prayer or acknowledge the effort that has gone into what you’re about to consume (i.e. gratitude)
- Enjoy a guided meditation. Letting the voice of another guide you into relaxation can be so much easier than doing it on your own.
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