Meditation is probably best known for its ability to bust stress and support our overall mental health. And that’s so important, but it’s not all meditation can do for us. Any type of regular meditation or mindfulness practice may benefit our physical health too.
Growing evidence now suggests that as little as 15 minutes of meditation each day can have a host of positive effects on anything and everything from our stress and anxiety levels to our heart and stomach woes—often immediately.
Meditation may reverse some of the reactions in our genes that cause depression and other illnesses, according to a review of 18 studies that included 846 participants and followed them for more than 11 years. In a nutshell, a stressful event kick starts our body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ response which in turn increases production of a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB).
NF-kB calls on genes to produce inflammation-causing proteins. Inflammation is linked to a host of diseases and conditions including heart disease, certain cancers and psychiatric disorders like depression. But, the study found, that people who practice mind-body interventions such as meditation or mindfulness exhibit a decrease in production of NF-kB and related inflammation markers.
For some of these reasons, Arcari offers daily drop-in meditations to people being treated for cancer at her hospital. “When we stop focusing on the infusions, tests and scans and really move out of our thinking mind, there is an innate sense of inner peace.”