The science behind meditation

Having shed its “hippy” image, meditation now enjoys its status as a medically endorsed complementary therapy.

Originally practiced to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life, meditation nowadays is typically used for relaxation and stress reduction.

Its effectiveness has become widely regarded; some of the biggest and most innovative companies incorporate it into their working week. Google, Adobe, Ford and even Goldman Sachs treat their employees to meditation classes.

Proclaimed as the newest corporate productivity hack, meditation is a practice that improves creativity and carves out precious time in our switched on, technology-reliant world.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is the type of meditation employed in the workplace. It does not focus on a single purpose or particular ‘result’.

Instead, it accommodates all thoughts, feelings, sounds, or images that pass through your mind. Typically, MBSR meditation involves slow, regular breathing and sitting quietly for at least 15 to 20 minutes.

Its results are encouraging; The Mindfulness Report found that the participants on their study reported being more engaged with their work, more energized and less anxious.

Furthermore, MBSR meditation impressed doctors by alleviating mental and physical medical conditions of their patients– including those suffering from chronic pain, which reduced the need for prescribed medication.

Mindfulness: the ultimate stress reliever

Whilst mainstream medical professionals now cite the effectiveness of MBSR meditation on stress reduction, the mind-skin connection has also been addressed.

In the emerging field of medicine called Psychodermatology, research has examined the underlying emotional and mental states of those suffering from challenging skin complaints.

‘Mind Matters’ are linked to skin conditions such as acne, eczema, urticaria and psoriasis.

The Harvard Medical School Health Publication (2006) found:

considerable data suggests that… stress and other psychological factors can activate or worsen certain skin conditions.”

Can meditation help my skin?

I’ve talked before about the links between skin, stress and our immune systems.

The science bit is this: stress results in a release of cortisol in the body.

Rising levels of cortisol are the damaging primary contributor to a compromised immune system.

If the effects of stress are suppressing your immune system, then your skin is likely to be suffering too!

Stress is one of the biggest and most common triggers for causing unpredictable skin.

With its proven powers in lowering levels of cortisol, MBSR meditation can have a powerful effect on helping to improve sensitive complexions.

Where to start

If you’re new to meditation, start slowly and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t immediately slip into a monk-like trance!

Think of MBSR meditation as a new skill that could potentially help your skin, and go easy on yourself – it shouldn’t be a chore.

A guided MBSR meditation is a great place to start de-stressing and soothing your complexion.

Just 26% of British adults currently practise meditation, whilst 81% agree that the fast pace of life nowadays is a major cause of stress – and they’d love to find a way to relieve it.

With science to support it – there’s surely no reason not to give it a go!

Looking to give it a go now?

Try following our exclusive recording with the amazing yoga and meditation teacher, Nadia Narain.

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