Meditation has great benefits for mental health.
This is no secret at this point.
I invest at least some of my time every now and then into meditation to calm my mind, but as many who have meditated for a while may understand, the mind and the body are connected. What brings calm in the head also brings stillness to the legs, the arms, the chest, and… the gut!
Many of you are probably thinking at this point ‘how am I supposed to know when my gut is calm?’. It’s a good question and it’s tricky to answer.
The best way to tell is to go by what normal has become for you. Many people who end up researching the gut and digestion have ended up here as a result of a myriad of physical manifestations of poor digestion.
The most common of these include: cramping, bloating, heart burn and diarrhoea, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. IBS, which is often caused by emotional or psychological stress as well as poor intestinal health can encompass many of these same symptoms and can be very embarrassing for someone if they experience anxiety doing simple tasks like shopping or even just leaving the house for short periods. Further along the scale, we have full blown auto-immune diseases like MS, Lupus, Arthritis and Fibromyalgia (not technically an auto-immune disease but often just as debilitating).
Wherever you are on the scale, it’s really important to track your own sensations, flare ups and typical symptoms. Once you know what the good, bad and ugly looks like for you on a typical day, then you’re ready to know how certain treatments and techniques might help with improving your gut!
So, back to meditation.
Say I had indigestion, or I bloated often after eating, or maybe I noticed that visiting the toilet was unexpectedly more unpleasant, either suffering with constipation or diarrhoea, then I know where my baseline is (if your baseline is this, I feel for you, I really do).
One thing to try (along with as many little changes as you can make to improve your diet), is meditation, either before or after you sit down for dinner. This may be most beneficial before a large meal where your gut will be under more stress than usual.
Meditating can contribute to more relaxed digestion. When you are stressed or anxious, busy, or distracted, your gut cannot work as efficiently on the food that it receives. This is all new research. Again, I have GUT to thank for this idea.
Remember, when your mind is relaxed and calm, so is your body and your gut!
So, 10 minutes on Headspace before dinner could really significantly contribute to better digestion and nutrient absorption. And surely, all of us here, trying our best to recover from poor digestive health, might want to try anything to ensure our bodies are primed for nutrients.
Some people may find it easier to do this after eating. I can understand it being harder to concentrate when you can smell food in the other room, just on the verge of cooked, or when your mind is racing with which recipe you want to cook for dinner. So do what works for you. This is a process after all, and you need to give yourself the room to find the best method for your needs.
Give it a try!
Track your digestion over the coming weeks. Has it improved? Have the symptoms unique to you subsided, diminished or gone away altogether? If it works, maybe you can keep doing it every so often and especially at meals where you know the offerings are more plentiful than usual! Anything that aids digestion and works should be considered on the road to recovery, no matter how seemingly unrelated it is on the surface.
The gut, the brain and the heart are all connected very closely. Anything that affects one or two of these systems certainly affects the other, though the relationship may not be apparent at first. These are the three branches of the human body which grow first in the womb. We should pay very close attention to that connectedness from conception as it has very important meaning in how we address our health issues as we continue learning about our bodies.
Good focus and good digestive health!