We all want to be healthy, but many of us find ourselves in less than an ideal state of health. How can mindfulness help us to deal better with the health issues that we find ourselves with and reduce the likelihood that we develop more problems?
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that up to 40 percent of trhe deaths from the top five causes were preventable: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, stroke, and unintentional injury. Nearly 900,000 Americans die prematurely every year from these causes. All of the preventive steps involved life style changes. Many more problems that are not necessarily life threatening, but require taking medications to keep them in check can be imporved through paying more attention to the underlying causes.
An important, but often underrated, fact is that choice requires awareness. We may know something intellectually but still find it difficult to change our behaviors. This is why diets don't work, and when their cardiologist tells patients that if they don't change their behavior they will die, only one out seven do so. The other six die. Without awareness we operate on "automatic pilot." We may know that donut is not good for us or that cigarettes are detrimental to our health as we eat the donut and smoke the cigarette. Awareness allows us choice and the choices we make in awareness will be in our best interest and the best interest of others.
Mindfulness practice increases awareness by strengthening our ability to stay present with what is rather than fall into patterns that have developed over time that have led to our current health problems. We can learn to stay with and tolerate unpleasant feelings that may lead to unhealthy behaviors. We want to avoid the unpleasant feeling so we eat the donut or smoke the cigarette. It works until the unpleasant feeling comes up again and we repeat the unhealthy behavior. We are on automatic pilot instead of in awareness.
Mindfulness practice can lower stress levels so that our bodies are more resilient and can deal with potential illnesses more effectively. Our immune system is not compromised. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure as, if not more, effectively than medication. By learning how to focus our minds on what is occurring internally and externally in the present moment without judgement, we do not have to get caught up in patterns that have developed over a lifetime that lead to health problems.
We want Mindgardens to be a place you can go to regain better health through increasing your awareness and leading to better choices in your life. Together, we can work toward a healthier world.