Mindfulness is a practice that is growing increased attention and popularity in recent times. Research is showing; it not only changes the way you live, it changes the way your genes are expressed!
As we speak, more and more research is being conducted in this field, and the evidence coming out is very encouraging. Studies are showing that regular practice of Mindfulness Meditation and breathing exercises are producing extremely positive results for people’s mindset, physical health, general wellbeing and satisfaction with life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply about paying attention. It’s about ‘being present’, focusing our awareness on the moment to moment experiences, rather than being caught up with our thinking, wandering mind. Our brains are designed to wander, often thinking about the past or worrying about the future, always trying to stay a few steps ahead of us. And this is not the problem. The problem is that we quite often ‘go wandering, right along with it’.
We get hooked up in our thoughts, disconnected from the present moment, disconnected from our sensing environment. This often leads us into a ‘chronic stress cycle’, taking on the burdens of the thinking mind, rather than enjoying the beauty of the moment to moment experiences available to us. Mindfulness takes us out of our ‘busy mind’ and into a state of physical calm.
Mindfulness influences our genes
We are living in such exciting times. The mind-body connection and the scientific landscape supporting this fascinating relationship is rapidly expanding. The study of neuroscience, epigenetics, behaviour, and the effects of emotional states on the body’s physical health and wellbeing is growing momentum and changing the way we think about health, disease and psychological wellbeing.
Evidence is now showing that regular mindfulness practice not only changes the way we live and feel, it changes the way our genes are expressed. This means we can actually influence the way our brain talks to our genes, and in effect determine whether particular ‘disease states’ or chronic illnesses get switched on or switched off.
Until recently scientists thought that our genetic blueprint was locked in – fixed. We are now discovering that this is only part of the story. The newest epigenetic research is showing that although our genes do not change, the way our genes are expressed is flexible. This is pretty exciting.
So, how does Mindfulness come into the picture?
Gene expression is dependent on the individual’s environment, and the way or brain talks to the rest of our body. In effect, our lifetime environmental exposures (nutrition, stressors, trauma, emotional burden, toxic load) and the way or brain copes with this, impacts on whether particular gene switches are flicked on or off. Given enough stress or pressure, the sensitive gauge on certain genes are put on high alert, and eventually pops to the ‘on position’ once a certain threshold is reached.
Mindfulness Meditation and breathing exercises reduces this pressure, minimising the allostatic loading on our body. It desensitises our vulnerable genes to remain calm, regulated and resilient by influencing the way our brain talks to our DNA. In fact, evidence is now showing that Mindfulness has the power to even reverse and turn down the dial of previously activated disease producing genes. This means there is far more that we can do for our health, than ever previously thought.
How do I go about learning Mindfulness Meditation?
Like any new skill, learning takes practise. Just like riding a bike, Mindfulness and Meditation are skills that need time, patience and dedication. A good place to start is to learn more about the practice, and begin a daily routine. Research is showing that just 10 minutes a day can start having profound benefits on your health.
Check out these websites for great support, and start your personal genetic engineering today!
Happy mindfulness in May!
Yours in vibrant health,
Occupational Therapist, Wellbeing Consultant, Mindfulness Meditation Instructor
If you would like any advice or 1:1 mindfulness training sessions, don’t hesitate to contact me. I also conduct group sessions on request.
Ph: 0401 911 250
©Jess Leggatt 2015