chronic pain, anxiety, and depression
Without awareness, we are prone to believe our thoughts, rather than examine them. When this happens, the brain signals the body and tells it to respond as if our thoughts were true. We literally become our mental state — a phenomena known as “embodied cognition.”
Thoughts like “I am angry,” or “I am depressed,” look (and feel) very different from thoughts of “I am joyful,”or “I am in a state of ease.” Thoughts change our perception of events and how we respond to them!
Research shows that mindfulness can be used to manage chronic pain, eliminate anxiety, and prevent depressive relapse.
Stress is caused when the demands placed on a system are greater than the supply of energy a system has to meet the demands.
Eating is one way for our body to adapt to the increased demand of stress. It is also a way of comforting, grounding, and nourishing ourselves. Unfortunately, when we are stressed, we don’t crave a kale or spinach salad. We want the sugary, fatty or salty foods that activate the brain’s satiety centers.
This pattern of stress eating can lead to weight gain or other health issues. Attempts at changing the behaviors often leave us feeling defeated, because they haven’t taken into account how our brain is wired to use food to cope with stress!
Mindfulness offers us a way out.
The space we create through mindfulness practice can decouple the stressor (an email from your boss) from the stress response (eating a whole pizza). One moment at a time, we can use mindfulness to become aware of the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations related to eating, rather than feeling overwhelmed when scary cravings set in, and reconnect with our inner wisdom about hunger and which foods to eat.
addiction psychiatrist, Judson Brewer, explains how we can use mindfulness to rewire the brain's habit-forming process:
If you find that the moment your head hits the pillow, your brain starts worrying about tomorrow’s meeting or today’s email, mindfulness can help.
As psychologist Carl Jung said, “what we resist not only persists, but grows in size.”
Mindfulness practice teaches us how to turn toward the resistance, and relax our body and mind, so we can fall asleep and stay asleep. It gives us a way of working with our thoughts and bodily sensations that is far more effective than staying up all night obsessively worrying about the next day.
Check out this video to learn more about how mindfulness can help you get to sleep:
Benefits of mindfulness for the body
Improve sleep quality
Enjoy more physical energy
Mental focus and stamina
Slow disease progression
Reduce pain and suffering
Develop immune system resilience
Relieve depression and anxiety
Elevate your mood and peace of mind