Are you looking for a natural way to improve your gut health? Look no further than meditation.
Recent research has revealed that regular meditation can have significant benefits for your gut because of the close connection between the gut and the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. Not sure if you believe us? Let us break it down for you.
Your Gut and Meditation
The connection that forms the gut-brain axis is made up of both physical and biochemical connections. We aren’t going to dive too far into the science of how this connection works today because it can get a little complicated, but here’s what you need to know—the gut-brain axis is bidirectional meaning it can send signals both ways. This means that the actions you take to foster a healthy mind can ultimately have a positive impact on your gut as well. This is where practices like daily meditation come into play.
Historically, research in regards to meditation has been focused primarily on the benefits it provides to mental health; however, in recent years scientists have been interested in exploring if this mindfulness practice has any impact on our gut health. And, the results of these studies have been promising.
For example, one study published by BMJ General Psychiatry in 2022 analyzed the impact that daily meditation had on the gut microbiomes of 56 Tibetan Monks. The monks who participated in the study were not only devoted to meditating every day, but they also were not taking anything that is known to alter the gut microbiome such as antibiotics or probiotics. When the composition of their gut microbiota was compared to that of the control group, the researchers found that the monks had more strains of good bacteria, particularly strains like Bacteroidetes which are associated with positive mental health.
The research on this specific topic is only getting started, which means there is a lot we don’t know about how exactly meditation influences your gut. With that being said, we can use what we already know about gut health in general as a basis for understanding why meditation may have such a substantial impact. For example, here are just two of the things that impact your gut that we know meditation can help with.
When your fight-or-flight response is triggered by a stressful situation, the cortisol that your body releases can impact a number of areas of your health, including your gut. A daily practice of meditation is known to help reduce stress levels, which is likely part of the reason why this practice is also so good for your gut health.
We all know that meditating regularly can help increase our mindfulness in other areas of our life. Taking the time to slow down, tune in with our bodies, and let our thoughts and worries be set aside for a few minutes can do wonders when it comes to helping our minds be fully present and aware at other points throughout our day. This allows us to be more in tune with our body’s signals, so we are more likely to understand which activities we need to partake in to support our gut as well as the rest of our body. For example, being mindful can help us identify when we need to rest, what kinds of foods help us feel our best, which exercise routines work best for us, and what self-care activities help us relieve stress and feel more like ourselves.
Meditation Tips for a Healthy Gut
We all assume that meditation involves only sitting down cross-legged and chanting affirmations over and over again. While this can be true in some cases, the reality is that meditation can take on any form you’d like it to. It can be a drawn-out process where you sit in a quiet, dimly lit room, say affirmations, take deep breaths, or hum to yourself, or it can be a short period of time where you close your eyes, breathe deeply, and spend a minute or two checking in with your body. This variation in meditative practices is part of what makes it so easy to incorporate into a routine. Whatever type of meditation you choose to partake in, here are a few tips to help you make the most of it.
1. Set the Mood
This is especially important if you are choosing to sit down and meditate for 10 to 15 minutes (or more) at a time. Finding a nice quiet place where you can sit comfortably for an extended amount of time will allow you to fully relax and focus on your meditation practice. If you want, you can even turn on some soft calming music or add some comforting scents to the area using candles or essential oils. Do whatever helps you relax and feel comfortable.
2. Find Your Posture
Yes, you can sit cross-legged on the floor if that is comfortable for you, but that isn’t the only way to meditate. If the “traditional” posture that we associate with meditation doesn’t work for you, you can find a comfortable place to sit upright with your feet on the ground, or you can even lay on your back on your yoga mat or another comfortable surface. However you choose to sit, the important thing is that you are making sure your back is straight so that your posture is conducive to deep, belly breathing.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
Ideally, your meditation practice will help you clear your mind and fully relax your body for at least a brief period of time. However, we are not living in an ideal world, which means that there is a good chance your mind will wander, you’ll feel the urge to adjust your sitting position, or you’ll get a random itch partway through your meditation. When these types of distractions happen, be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for getting distracted. Just remind yourself that it’s okay and then gently guide your mind and body back to that calm, clear, relaxed state you are striving for. The more you practice, the less your mind and body will wander, but only if you redirect them with kindness from the beginning.
4. Start Small and Make it a Habit
You will get the most out of your meditation practice if you can make it a daily habit. Start small by picking a time and committing to meditating for only 2 to 5 minutes at first. Do that every day until you feel like it’s habitual. By starting small, the task of meditating every day won’t seem so big and daunting, which means you will be much more likely to stick to it. Then, if you want to expand your practice, start slowly increasing the length of time until you’ve reached your goal meditation length. Before you know it, you will have a daily habit of meditating that you won’t have to think twice about.
Live the #NewEarthLife
By taking just a few minutes each day to tune in and quiet the mind, you may find that you feel more centered, balanced, and nourished from the inside out, which is why we consider daily meditation a vital part of caring for your gut and living what we like to call the #NewEarthLife.
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