Atishoo! Mindfulness prevents colds and flu…
I’ve long suspected that my mindfulness practice helps prevent me from getting ill. In my old life, before Mindfulness, I worried a lot and I was sick a lot. If someone sneezed within a mile of me, then I’d catch it. Winter was one cold after another with maybe an episode of “wipe out” flu, thrown in for good measure.
It’s rare that I fall ill these days, I’m carrying a bit of cough right now, but it’s my own fault. I didn’t listen to myself and pushed harder and ate junk, when my body was telling me to rest and take on lots of vitamin rich food. But if I listen to myself, I don’t get ill and even when I do, it passes quickly and my symptom are usually much milder and shorter lasting than those falling ill around me.
I’ve long suspected that Mindfulness is good for your immune system. Maybe it’s simply because we are less stressed so the immune system functions better, and I’m sure this is true, but I’ve always sensed that there is something else going on too.
Mindfulness connects you to your body, and with practice you become acutely aware of what you feel. Gradually you’ll develop an awareness of subtle dimensions of feeling, unavailable to hard core “thinkers”. As the mind goes quiet, we begin to feel, we begin to sense, we begin to know, and a whole new language of communication arises, a language of feeling. We are sensing the energy field rather than thinking.
This communication, I dare to suggest, opens the possibility to engage consciously with the immune system and set it to work vigorously and with targeted precision. And over the years in this work, I’ve seen many dozens of people heal themselves or reduce their suffering from chronic conditions. I use these techniques nearly every day in my private work, and I know it’s real, because it’s helped nearly 300 people to recovery fully from what is widely believed to be an incurable condition.
It’s ok, I’m quite used to being labelled a nut case. I don’t really care what I think these days, or what anyone else thinks is of little concern. But it’s always lovely to come across some new research, which in part, supports my madness.
According to research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, adults who meditated suffered fewer colds and flu! The researchers followed the health of the volunteers through the winter from September to May. The participants were observed for cold and flu symptoms such as a runny nose, stuffiness, sneezing, and sore throat. Nasal wash samples were collected and analysed three days after the symptoms began.
The study, found that meditators missed 76 per cent fewer days of work from September through to May than those who did nothing.
In addition, they found that mindful meditation can reduce the duration or severity of acute respiratory infections such by up to 50 per cent. Those who meditated suffered for an average of five days; colds of participants in the control group lasted eight. In addition, tests confirmed that the self-reported length of colds correlated with the level of antibodies in the body, which indicate the presence of a virus.
“Nothing has previously been shown to prevent acute respiratory infections,” lead author Dr Bruce Barrett, a family medicine doctor and associate professor at the University said. “A lot of previous information suggested that meditation and exercise might have prevention benefits, but no high-quality, randomised trial had been done. Flu shots are partially effective, but only work for three strains of flu each year. The apparent 40 to 50 per cent benefit of mindfulness training is a very important finding.“
Damn right it is Dr Bruce – those flu shot contain all sorts of nastiness.