Author Anna Tobin looks at the scientific evidence to explain why everyone can benefit from incorporating meditation and mindfulness into their daily routine.
Meditation and mindfulness are rooted in the same philosophy, they have many similarities and are often practiced together. Your health and wellbeing should benefit from doing both on a daily basis.
What is meditation?
Often forming part of a yoga routine, meditation has been practiced by civilisations across the world for centuries. Meditation is difficult to explain without doing it, but it essentially involves training your brain to focus on one particular thing that is happening right now, most commonly your breathing or a particular sound you can hear.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness involves training your brain to focus on what is going on in the present and concentrating on everything your senses are experiencing in the here and now — the things that you are seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching at this point in time.
How can meditation and mindfulness benefit your health?
Although people have espoused the benefits of mindfulness and meditation for years, only recently has science begun to investigate. While much of this research is still in its preliminary stages, the findings are very encouraging.
Supporting a healthy heart
Two recent research papers indicated that mindfulness can improve the health of your heart. A US trial that put a group of men and women on a weekly two-and-a-half-hour mindfulness-based stress reduction course found that it led to a reduction in clinical systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In another Dutch study, patients with heart disease were put on a 12-week online mindfulness training course. Following the course, those who were practicing mindfulness were found to have lowered their heart rate and to have a greater capacity for exercise than the control group.
Slowing the ageing process
There is ongoing research into whether mindfulness and meditation can slow the effects of ageing, and early results look promising. This University of California study speculates that by reducing cognitive stress and stimulating positive feelings, mindfulness meditation can slow cellular ageing. This Canary Islands study found that mindfulness techniques could slow the progress of Alzheimer’s Disease. Three weekly sessions of mindfulness, cognitive stimulation therapy and progressive muscle relaxation carried out over two years in a group of people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease indicated that mindfulness helped to slow the cognitive impairment in the sample group.
Improving mental wellbeing
The UK’s National Health Service advocates using mindfulness to enjoy better mental health. It claims that by learning to focus on the present moment we can train ourselves to recognise signs of stress and anxiety and learn to deal with them better. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence also recommends mindfulness for preventing depression.
Mindfulness and meditation at Soneva’s resorts
Soneva’s resorts are all designed around the principles of mindfulness. As soon as you check in, you are encouraged to appreciate the wonderful sights, sounds and textures found in the natural beauty of their surroundings. Elements of mindfulness and meditative practices are woven into many of the wellness activities and experiences at Soneva Fushi, Soneva Jani and Soneva Kiri, with complimentary morning yoga sessions and mediation on the beach.
If you have never attempted mindfulness or meditation before or have struggled with your practice, one of Soneva’s experienced practitioners can create a bespoke programme to help you learn these new techniques.