Meditation helps us process our thoughts, belief systems, and attachments. It helps us digest change mentally and physically it helps us digest our food. Yes, meditation can help optimize your digestive system.
Rest and Digest
When the body perceives stress whether that is emotional or actual life-threatening stress the body’s sympathetic nervous system activates. This is the part of the autonomic nervous system that is responsible for the fight or flight mode.
Originally this mode was activated temporarily as a response to life-threatening circumstances. Currently, in our society, many people are experiencing high levels of stress which then chronically triggers the flight or fight response.
When our body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released into our system. The body suppresses all nonessential functions such as digestion, the reproductive system, and the lacrimal gland which regulates salivation.
In addition, cortisol blocks the release of insulin in order to guide glucose to be available for immediate energy. The other half of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system.
It is known for calming the body and activating the rest and digest response. In order for our body to be able to have healthy digestion, it needs to be able to reduce its perception of stress which can be rewired through meditation!
Boosting Oxygen and Circulation
For our bodies to embody their optimal digestion, oxygen and circulation play a vital role. This is due to the fact muscle contraction is what produces the food to move along the tract and be broken up.
Through the meditative practice of pranayama, which is extending our breath we are able to circulate not only prana throughout our bodies but also oxygen throughout our circulatory system. Other meditation techniques not specifically breath-focused are also able to increase circulation and aid digestion.
Such as the one performed by Dr. Herbert Benson, a professor at Harvard Medical School. He went to Upper Dharamsala, a Himalayan Indian town in 1981 to study the yogis who practiced tummo meditation. The yogi’s practiced in about 4 degrees celsius conditions and placed sheets dripping with icy water on their naked bodies.
The yogis were able to not only dry the sheets but to make them steam by increasing circulation. In these conditions, the average human would not be able to stop their body from shivering uncontrollably.
Bensen measured the monk’s internal temperature and found the rectal temperature did not change but within the fingertips and toes found an increase of up to 8.3 degrees celsius. Through meditation, the yogis increased their circulation. This can also be linked to increasing your libido!
Through meditation, we are also able to more easily break habits such as overeating. This is due to the fact meditation strengthens our muscles of letting go. Through single-pointed mental focus based meditation, the mind becomes attuned to continuously releasing distractions and cravings.
Food is one of the most common distractions people use. When we practice staying present through life we are able to empower ourselves to stay in integrity with healthy decisions.
Overeating creates the need for more enzymes to be released as well as cause your organs to need to work harder to digest. When we overeat our mental and physical bodies become more tired due to the energy spent digesting.
Begin Meditating and Aid Your Digestion
Whether you are just getting started with meditation and want to check out our 30-day course that will introduce you into the basics of meditation or as an avid practitioner already you may enjoy introducing new mantras into your practice, we are here to support you on your journey!