Chronic irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive disorder but research suggests that mindful meditation techniques may ease systems.
While you’re sitting reading this, take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a moment, and now slowly release the air through your mouth. Think about how you feel. Better yet, try it again, maybe a few more times.
Taking these brief moments to really focus on our breathing can benefit our overall health.
Breathing exercises and meditation are increasingly popular as more benefits come out linking the positive effects. From relieving stress, to lowering blood pressure, to even simply clearing your mind – if you haven’t tried meditation, it’s time you did.
One benefit in particular has caught my attention: Meditation can do good things for your stomach. And with stomach issues on the rise, a natural remedy is always welcome. Steer clear of those antacid tablets in your medicine cabinet and try a few minutes of meditation to calm your mind and your stomach.
Mindful meditation to reduce irritable bowel syndrome symptoms
As we learn more about the stomach as a control center for mood and other brain functions, studies have established a strong link between stress and your gut. Stress can disrupt your digestive system and even cause heartburn. Reducing stress may give you the relief you need when it comes to any stomach problems you may be having.
One study from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine examined the relationship between meditation and the stomach. In particular, researchers looked at patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). For the study, 75 women were assigned to either a group for mindfulness-based stress reduction or a support group with other patients with IBS. The patients attended weekly meetings along with a half-day retreat.
After an eight-week period, IBS symptoms reduced for those in the mindfulness-based stress reduction group compared to those in the support group. In fact, those who reduced their stress had symptoms drop by 26.4 percent in comparison to only 6.2 percent.
Better yet, researchers found that the reduction of symptoms lasted well after the study was over – past three months. Those who were in the stress reduction group still experienced a reduction in symptoms by 38.2 percent in comparison to 11.8 percent in members from the support group.
Ease your mind, ease your stomach
If you’ve been experiencing an increase in stomach-related issues lately, take a look at your stress level. If you have a lot on your mind, stress could be taking a toll on your stomach. And if you’re looking for a natural solution, meditation may be your answer.
Starting a meditation is easy to do and can be done anywhere for any amount of time. If you’re unsure how to perform a meditation you can always join a class to begin.
Ideally, you’re in a room with no distractions or loud noises. Closing your eyes is also a good method as you can focus on your body and your breathing more. Take in some deep breaths through the nose and release them through your mouth. Beginning like this can really allow you to detach from the busy world around you and focus on your body.
You may like to follow up your breaths with some light stretching. When oxygen reaches the muscles quicker with your deep meditative breathing, it makes them easier to move and stretch. Likewise, stretched and relaxed muscles increase blood flow within the body, which helps with healthy functioning. Better blood flow will also allow you to fully relax and let go of any tension you may be holding onto.
Become aware of your body and each body part, and notice the feeling of complete relaxation.
If you’re having trouble getting into the mood to meditate, listening to soft music or nature sounds from a CD can also help.
Reducing your stress through daily meditation is an easy and natural way to help alleviate any health issues you may have, especially when it comes to your stomach. If you’re noticing an increase in tummy troubles, pause for some deep breaths – it may have more to do with your mind than it does with your stomach.