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How can I boost my immune system with mindfulness?

Updated: Feb 3


Chris Maragkakis. Blog author and Life Coach

Did you know that being mindful not only helps you to regulate your emotions and manage your thoughts but it also helps to keep you healthy too?



Let me explain what mindfulness is.


Mindfulness is the act of being aware without judgement.


This could apply to awareness of your breath, awareness of your emotions, awareness of your thoughts or awareness of whatever it is that you are doing in that moment.


We are not trying to control what we are doing, we are not assigning any value such as good or bad to it we are merely a curious observer to see what arises for us.


We do this so that we can learn through observation, so that we can connect to the awareness within, so that we can identify, challenge and change what is not working for us and so that we live fully every moment rather than spending some or all of our life on autopilot. You know what I mean, you remember getting on the car, you know that you drove but as for the journey, not a clue because you were totally absorbed in what was going on in your head rather than being present with the job in hand.


And just as an aside. If missing out on chunks of your life wasn't enough, let me just point out that you were not present as you operated one of the deadliest machines on our planet. Scary huh? Anyway.When we are being mindful, we have the opportunity to take full responsibility for our thoughts, emotions and actions which are the creators of our lives.


How we think about things, triggers our emotions, how we feel about things triggers our speech and action and how we speak and behave is responsible for the life we are now living. Without mindfulness, this process runs through our life without us having to think about it and we find ourselves in a cycle of event, trigger and reaction.


With mindfulness, we can become aware of what we are feeling, question the thinking behind the emotion and then choose how we want to respond. This puts us into a process of event, self enquiry and response.


Trigger and react is mindlessness Enquiry and response is mindfulness.


The key difference is that we when are choosing to respond, we are in control but when we are being triggered, we are giving that control to someone or something else.


A triggered emotion and reaction is often stressful and causes adrenaline and cortisol to be released into the body. These are the stress hormone and while they are exactly what we need in short bursts to get us through a particular situation. This is the sympathetic nervous system doing its thing. If we are triggered over a longer period of time or very often, then these hormones can have a debilitating effect on our body and our brain.


When we are mindful, it is difficult to be stressed, anxious or overwhelmed because we are not assigning a value to an event and this means that we are not releasing stress hormones to the body and are actually spending more time in the parasympathetic nervous system response which is our rest and repair process.


So, there are seven pillars of mindfulness and they are: 1. Non judgement - the world isn't black and white and we don't know the reason behind a lot of things so if we refrain from judgement, we can remain open to possibilities


2. Patience. Everything happens exactly when it is meant to.


3.Beginners mind. Approach life with openness and curiousity. Try looking at something familiar and see what new things you notice. When we assume we already know something, we are missing out on the wholeness of it.


4. Trust. Have faith in yourself, in your intuition and your ability to shape your life.


5. Non striving- accept who you are in the present moment and do not compare yourself to others or measure your worth by external objects.


6. Acceptance. This often gets confused for complacency which it most definitely isn't. This pillar shows us the when we accept the reality of a situation rather than argue against its existence because we don't think it should be that way or we don't like what is happening we will only cause pain and suffering and when we have calmed down, we will still have to deal with the issue at hand. Acceptance enables us bypass the thoughts we tell ourselves and the emotions they cause and go straight to the problem solving stage.

And lastly,

7. Letting go. The past has gone. Don't hold onto events, people or thoughts that belong there. Thank them for their contribution to your journey and let them go.


When we try to live through these principles as I said before we are less stressed. Here are 5 ways that mindfulness can boost your immune system to improve your health and wellbeing.


1. A calm,relaxed body and mind produces less adrenalin and cortisol which over a period of time can put all of the bodily processes under pressure which makes us more susceptible to illness.


2.Mindfulness and meditation can improve heart function. This results in more oxygen rich blood pumping around the body causing immunity cells to leap into action.


3.Mindfulness can boost antibodies through increased activity in the part of the brain that regulates the immune system.


4. It can reduce the production inflammatory gene. And it is inflammation of a cell that is a precursor to illness.


5.Reduced cell ageing. Prolonging the live of our cells enables them to remain efficient for longer and slows down the process of degeneration which leads to a weakened immune system and ultimately illness.


To harness the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, both need to become a regular part of your life.


Don't be put off by the term meditation, instead think of it as quiet time where you withdraw from the stimulation of the world and your mind and you create calm through noticing your breath or focusing on a task or object.


Regular practice helps us to reduces stress and anxiety, become better problem solvers, life proactively and manifest a calmer and more positive life which benefits us in a improved immune system which means we are healthier and function better for more of the time which in turn helps us to feel less stressed and anxious so creating a calmer and more positive life.


This is the cycle that we want to be encouraging.

So I hope you've found this helpful. As always if you want to know more or you would like to discuss working with me, then please get in touch.

Chris.

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