While more research on the positive effects of meditation is carried out, one intriguing conclusion that is being drawn is that meditation can, in reality, boost your immune system. To be more precise, when you practice mindfulness meditation (paying full attention to the present moment without passing any judgement), your body responds by giving you a sense of calm. This is what enables your immunity to carry out tasks it needs to carry out to take adequate care of you.
How Does Meditation Break the Stress Cycle?
When you practice meditation (sitting or standing still, with the focus on your breath, your body sensations, or the sounds you hear), you begin to breathe in a slower manner, even if you are manipulating your breath intentionally. This is precisely when your immune system goes about its business of protecting you.
If you are a regular practitioner of meditation, you can give yourself wellness breaks, eventually disrupting the harmful cycle of stress, exhaustion, and depletion that you find yourself caught up in. This is why meditating for as less as 10 minutes can be as refreshing as taking an afternoon nap. Moreover, when it comes to re-engaging with the tasks that were stressing you out, they may not be as overwhelming as before. This is because you have developed more self-compassion and patience.
Thus, when it comes to meditation for immunity, researchers are highly intrigued by the growing evidence that shows that mindfulness has a positive, beneficial effect on your immune system.
The Floating Brain: The Body’s Best Defence
The immune system is a critical purveyor when it comes to physical fitness. It’s your primary defence system or armed forces that work round the clock to protect you from foreign invaders such as bacteria and viruses. It is designed so precisely that it can rightly distinguish between unwanted, harmful pathogens and your body’s own healthy cells.
Your immune system is so wise that it is often called the floating brain, rightly named for its superb ability to effectively communicate with the brain through chemical messages that seem to float around inside your body. This eventually means that when your immune system is weak (maybe due to invading pathogens or chronic stress), your body will not be healthy. When your immune system is affected, it is a welcome sign of disease and infection.
Mindfulness and Immune System
A recent, pathbreaking review closely looked at 20 randomised control trials that examined the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation on the body’s immune system. When it came to reviewing the results, researchers found that mindfulness meditation carried three important tasks:
- It reduced inflammation markers. High levels of these markers are strongly associated with weakened immunity and disease.
- It caused an increase in the number of CD-4 cells, which serve as the helper cells of the immune system, primarily involved in the sending of signals to other cells instructing them to destroy pathogens.
- It increased telomerase activity. Telomerase helps in promoting the stability of chromosomes and preventing their deterioration. Telomerase deterioration can lead to premature ageing and cancer.
These results need further replication with increased rigorous methodology. However, they are quite promising and have paved the path for utilising mindfulness-based techniques to boost your immune system, thus enhancing your defence mechanism against disease and infection.
The Final Word:
Despite a lack of understanding of the precise mechanism, there is considerable evidence to show that mindfulness meditation helps boost your immune system against disease, thereby fostering health and wellness.
This article is reviewed by Suchitra Marwah